The global crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has created inequalities in socio-economic conditions that has resulted in poor people in Africa and billions of others around the world being left behind, World Bank Group President, David Malpass, has said.
Malpass was speaking in Khartoum, Sudan on the topic “Development in a Time of Upheaval,” in an event leading-up to the Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group.
In his presentation, Malpass said the poor were being left behind in a global tragedy of inequalities.
He underlined the need to promote sustainable growth and prosperity by focusing on achieving economic stability, leveraging the digital revolution, making development greener and more sustainable, and investing in people.
The COVID-19 pandemic period, the World Bank Group President said, are extraordinary difficult times for Africa and for billions of people around the world, as series of reversals in development have threaten people’s lives, jobs, livelihoods and sustenance.
“In many places, poverty is rising; literacy levels are falling, and past gains and gender, inequality, nutrition and healthcare are sliding backwards.
“For some countries, the debt burden was unsustainable before the crisis and is getting worse.
“Rather than gaining ground, the poor are being left behind in a global tragedy of inequality. This is creating a time of upheaval in economic, politics, and geo-political relationships.
“While some advanced economies are providing trillions of dollars in spending programmes and central banks asset purchases, low income countries are facing high inflation, too few jobs, shortage of vaccines and food and high cost of adapting to challenges in climate changes they did not create,” Malpass said.
In these troubling times of upheaval, he said the challenge for the people and the development community is to shorten the crisis, resume development and lay a strong foundation to a future that is more prosperous and better prepared for disasters like COVID-19.
To combat the reversals in development, he said members of the Group would need to adopt strong new approaches suited for these challenging times.
“We need to focus efforts more to set clear priorities, by measuring what works and what doesn’t and to rapidly scale up successes.
“COVID-19 crisis has resulted in increased poverty rates after decades of steady decline, which puts nearly 100 million people into extreme poverty, with several 100 million more becoming poor, many of them in middle income countries.
“Human capital accumulation has stopped, with most schools closing for months, even for years, and some have still not reopened,” he said.
The crisis, he noted, has also imposed a heavy toll on firms and governments, with business closures skyrocketing, many firms that remained active now over-indebted or in arrears.
Governments fiscal deficits, he said, are pushing public debts to dangerously high levels requiring a specially careful investment decisions by both the public and private sectors.
Regardless, he said the crisis also has its positive side, with unprecedented transformation brought in some countries’ economies, like a surge in the number of newly established firms, explosion of venture capital, and inevitable outfits proliferation.
“We see sectors like information technology, logistics and finance and their digital components are surging in both advanced economies and developing countries.
“This digital revoluion not only needs faster growth in the IT-based sector, but it offers the chance to transform other sectors, such as education, health and agriculture,” he said.