Special Issue on the Economic Effects of COVID-19 on African Economies

The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread to over 180 countries. Recognizing the speed of the spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it as a global pandemic in early March 2020. By early June 2020, over 380,000 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported with more than 4.5 million confirmed cases across the world according to John Hopkins COVID-19 Resource Center. Around the same time, Africa recorded over 160,000 cases and 4,500 deaths based on statistics provided by African Union's Center for Disease and Control Prevention. These data are, invariably, only indicative. We need more carefully collected and rigorously analyzed data.

This special issue serves as one such vehicle. While the effect of the 2007/2008 Global Financial Crisis (GFC) on African economies may have been subdued as a result of the continent's under-developed financial markets and weak inter-connectedness with the developed economies, African economies cannot, however, be protected from the ravaging effects of the current COVID-19.

Apart from job and productivity losses, the collapse in the oil prices in April, 2020 is expected to have a headwind on revenues and economic growth. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) estimates that, Africa's economic growth in 2020 is projected to fall between -1.4% and -2.6% (UNECA, 2020). More fundamentally, as noted in a recent special issue of AREF (Obeng-Odoom, 2020), COVID-19 appears to be accentuating existing inequalities and social stratification in Africa.

In order to halt the spread of the virus, various governments in Africa have instituted several measures. While these containment measures have helped to reduce the spread of the virus, the economic effects have been catastrophic. For instance, at the macro level, these restrictions have disrupted travel and tourism, supply value chains, and trade flows, but we do not fully understand the resulting productivity losses and revenue shortfalls. At the micro level, the loss of jobs and livelihoods, particularly for the informal economy workers, and their effects on daily wages, lower incomes, and existing inequalities and stratification complicate the picture.

By recognizing these economic effects and to respond to global call to unearth the economic cost of the virus to Africa, the African Review of Economics and Finance (AREF) is calling for relevant empirical papers. We seek empirical analyses that quantify the economic costs of the COVID-19 to African economies, but we also encourage careful qualitative research that seeks to untangle existing complexities and uncertainties. More specifically, this special call is particularly interested in studies that aim to examine the different effects within and across African countries using actual data, as well as designing economic response architecture to COVID-19 for African economies. Topics on the empirical effects of COVID-19 on Africa should focus on the following areas although other important areas may also be considered:

  1. Overall economic growth and trade flows
  2. Migration and remittances
  3. Urban and regional economic change
  4. Tourism and tourism receipts
  5. Financial markets
  6. Productivity and employment
  7. Informal economy and domestic revenue mobilization
  8. Public health and public wealth
  9. Effects of monetary and fiscal policies on economic recovery
  10. The African economy post-COVID-19

Empirical studies in these areas that discuss the key implications for policy, while providing practical recommendations are welcomed. Other themes, including the socio-economic effects of stigmatizing labour and, generally, Africans who contracted COVID-19, can be discussed with the Guest Editors. Consistent with the aims and vision of AREF (Obeng-Odoom et al., 2019), our emphasis is on Africa, but also 'Africa in the world'. So, we encourage papers that empirically analyze the troubles and triumphs of Africans in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere in the world. We strongly encourage contributors to engage the ongoing AREF conversation on COVID-19 (Obeng-Odoom, 2020), but based on their more empirical data and analysis, reflect on the methodological and ontological adequacy of mainstream economics models mostly centered on certainty. Can they also grapple with the complexity of African economies in these times of uncertainty?

Submission Details

Full papers should be submitted in English with an abstract. Abstracts should not exceed 250 words. All papers should contain the title, name(s) of the author(s), affiliation, email address, keywords. Papers should be submitted to any of the Guest Editors.

Guest Editors:

  1. Dr. Muazu Ibrahim
    School of Business and Law, Department of Banking and Finance
    University for Development Studies (UDS), Wa Campus, Upper West region, Ghana.
    Email address: imuazu@uds.edu.gh
  2. Dr. Gideon Boako
    Center for Global Finance, School of Finance and Management - SOAS, University of London, London, UK
    Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana
    Email address: gb42@soas.ac.uk

Important Dates:

  • Paper submission deadline: 30th September, 2020
  • Notification of first review: 30th October, 2020
  • Expected publication date: 31st December, 2020


  • - Obeng-Odoom F, (2020), 'Covid-19, Inequality, and Social Stratification in Africa', African Review of Economics and Finance, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 3-37.
  • - Obeng-Odoom F, Mensah J.O., Botha F, (2019), 'African Review of Economics and Finance: Past, Present, and Future', African Review of Economics and Finance, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 3-18.
  • - UNECA (2020). 'COVID-19 in Africa: Protecting Lives and Economies', Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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