By Fridah Nkibugah

The World Bank has warned that the three West African states worst affected by Ebola virus could plunge into an economic crisis if the epidemic is no contained.

An analysis of the Ebola epidemic by the bank released Wednesday finds that if the virus continues to surge in the three worst affected countries – Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the economic impact could grow eight-fold, dealing a potentially catastrophic blow to the already fragile states.

However, the analysis finds that economic costs can be limited if swift national and international responses succeed in containing the epidemic and mitigating “aversion behavior” – a fear factor resulting from peoples’ concerns about contagion, which is fueling the economic impact.

 

By EA Trade Review Reporter

The World Bank Group has approved a $105 million grant to finance Ebola-containment efforts underway in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

According to the bank, the funds will help families and communities cope with the economic impact of the crisis, and rebuild and strengthen essential public health systems in the three worst-affected countries to guard against future disease outbreaks.

The new grant is part of the $200 million Ebola emergency mobilization first announced by the WBG in early August.

The WBG said that its new Ebola Emergency Response project will mobilize $52 million for Liberia, the country with the highest number of Ebola infections, $28 million for Sierra Leone, and $25 million for Guinea.

 

By Agencies

Kenya is optimistic that the East African Community (EAC) can sign the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union within the next two weeks.

The trading bloc has until September 30 to sign the deal or lose the preferential export market access its partner states have enjoyed for decades.

However, Kenya is under intense pressure to meet the October 1 deadline for the signing of the long-term trade treaty because it does not enjoy market access given to all poor countries under the Everything-But-Arms (EBA) affirmative clause.

Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi are all classified by as poor countries and will therefore continue to enjoy market access under EBA. They will however lose out on other benefits envisioned under the EPAs treaty.

 

By Fridah Nkibugah


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the East African Community (EAC) have launched a collaborative programme to improve the compilation and dissemination of government finance statistics.

The programme involves all the five EAC partner states, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The inaugural workshop was held in Arusha, Tanzania, from August 25-29.

The workshop provided an opportunity for statisticians and economists from the EAC region to identify the needs for technical assistance (TA) to strengthen GFS to be provided by the IMF.

The program will assist the EAC Partner States to meet the fiscal data requirements associated with the East African Community Monetary Union (EAMU) protocol, signed by EAC Heads of State in November 2013.

Dr Enos Bukuku, EAC Deputy Secretary in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, welcomed the opportunity to host the workshop and launch the GFS programme.

“The intervention is timely in facilitating production of robust statistical data required for the establishment of EAMU and transition to EAC single currency by 2024,” said Dr Bukuku.

 

By Jim Yong Kim and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

For only the third time in its 66-year history, the World Health Organization has declared a global public health emergency.

This time it is for the Ebola outbreak in the three West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. After their traumatic ordeal in recent months, governments and communities in those three countries are looking desperately for signs that Ebola can be stopped in its tracks.

As medical doctors who understand well both the continent of Africa and infectious disease control, we are confident that the Ebola virus disease response plan, led by both the countries and the World Health Organization, can contain this Ebola outbreak and, in a matter of months, extinguish it.

Let’s also keep in mind that this is not an African problem, but a humanitarian one that happens to occur in a small part of Africa.

The emergency response must focus on four key areas.

First, we must support health workers who are the front line in fighting this epidemic. They have paid too great a price thus far with close to 100 workers having lost their lives attending to the sick.

 

By Karanja Kibicho

Recently, I led the East African Community-European Union delegation to a meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, that had been convened to resolve three outstanding issues on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).

For some time now, the EAC-EU have been negotiating on how to engage in trade, and before Kigali, eight issues out of 11 had been resolved. The three outstanding issues include tax and duties on exports; export subsidies provided to farmers in the EU; and non-trade provisions in the Cotonou Partnership Agreement.

Although the meeting did not agree on these issues, we made a lot of progress. What remains now is to agree on a few points of concern, basically to do with the phrasing of some sentences.

The issues have now been escalated to the ministerial level. It is our hope that agreement shall be achieved quickly at this level and the parties will just initial the agreement and beat the October 1 deadline.

 

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