Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic in March 2020, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has gone to exceptional lengths to help alleviate the economic and social impact of the coronavirus pandemic on livelihoods and Africa’s economies.

The AfDB stands at the forefront of Africa’s efforts to mitigate the economic, health, and social impacts of the pandemic on the continent.  In April 2020, the Bank announced the creation of a $10 billion Response Facility approved by its board to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic across the continent. And since then it has provided a €188 million loan to support the Government of Kenya, and a $13.7 million grant to finance the COVID-19 response in Zimbabwe among many others.

Egypt is one of Africa’s hardest-hit countries, with 17900 confirmed cases of coronavirus. The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank on 25 May 2020 approved a $500,000 emergency assistance grant to Egypt, to provide food relief, and to contribute to restoring the livelihoods of vulnerable populations affected by COVID 19 in the country.

The intervention will complement ongoing activities by Egypt’s Government to mitigate the effects of the virus pandemic on Egyptians. The emergency assistance will prioritize and contribute to critical interventions to ensure food security for all following the outbreak of the pandemic, which has left millions struggling to make ends meet.

Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on 11 March 2020, Africa has recorded over 118,000 confirmed cases across the African continent. Egypt is one of Africa’s hardest-hit countries, with 17,900 confirmed cases to date. Despite Egypt’s strong economic growth, the pandemic is expected to particularly hurt the informal sector, which provides livelihoods for the majority of the poor and vulnerable.

The Egyptian Government’s Action Plan for COVID-19 aims to preserve the gains made by the Egyptian economy, which stabilized recently and has earmarked EGP 100 billion (approximately $6.6 billion) in a funding package to help fight the spread of COVID-19 and fund treatment.

Egypt’s cabinet has also announced a raft of measures to mitigate against the effects of the pandemic. These include applying a one-time stipend of EGP 500 for 3 months to informal workers, whose livelihoods were disrupted and are not receiving any other form of subsidy. Providing EGP 1 billion for exporters as part of a package of measures aimed at supporting the industrial sector, and easing measures and procedures for MSMEs to allow access to finance in support of business operation and employee retention.   

The Bank’s extension of emergency assistance funding is based on the scale of the emergency triggered by the pandemic which is clearly an urgent challenge the Government is combatting, and the proposed activities can be carried out expeditiously and effectively within the required time frame.