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Workers unload boxes of goods at market in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo Simon Dawson/Bloomberg


(Bloomberg) -- Thirteen East African economies are projected to collectively expand by 4.1% in 2021 from 0.4% last year, supported by a global recovery, according to an African Development Bank report.

East Africa is the only region on the continent to have avoided a recession in 2020, thanks to agriculture, sustained public spending on large infrastructure projects, and increased regional economic integration,” according to an AfDB report published on Thursday. The lender reviewed the performance of 13 economies: Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. 

The slow roll out of Covid-19 vaccines and risks of spikes in infections could dampen that outlook, according to the study. The coronavirus pandemic could hold back progress on reducing poverty in the region, after 12.3 million people, or 3.4% of the 2019 population, slid into extreme poverty, it said. 

“The pandemic has had sharper impacts on the poor, with the number of people falling below the poverty line projected to increase,” AfDB said. “Covid-related shocks have increased poverty in the region, with the share of people living in extreme poverty rising to 35% in 2021, or 134.3 million human beings.” - Eric Ombok, Bloomberg News

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