The International Monetary Fund on Thursday warned the West African Ebola epidemic requires a “large scale” global intervention to control a crisis that is ravaging economies in the region.
The IMF, the world’s emergency lender, said it is in talks to boost bailouts for Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia as the disaster slams economic output and overwhelms government financing. Each of the three countries faces a financing gap of between $100 million and $130 million due to the havoc hitting agriculture, trade and other commerce, the fund said.
“Beyond the human toll that this outbreak is exacting, the Ebola outbreak looks set to cause significant harm to the economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone,” IMF spokesman William Murray said in a news conference Thursday.
This year was supposed to be a bright one for the three deeply poor governments bearing the brunt of West Africa’s Ebola problem. After 50 unbroken years of dictatorial misrule, Guinea—a democracy since 2010—had planned to auction off a multibillion iron-ore concession. Liberia, scene of a horrific 14-year-long civil war, had begun auctioning off offshore oil blocks. Sierra Leone was set to be Africa’s fastest-growing economy for the second time in three years, the IMF had projected.
But now the fund estimates the epidemic will cut growth in Sierra Leone to 8% this year from a previous rate of 11.3%. Liberia’s growth will more than halve to 2.5%. Guinea will see its prospects fall to 2.4% from a previously expected rate of 3.5%, the fund said.
Mr. Murray said the IMF is negotiating expanding the countries’ current financing programs to ensure they have the resources they need to fight the outbreak and keep their economies afloat.