A lot was said and speculated already about the negative impacts of Ebola and Ebola curbing measures on the local economy. Quite some time, I must admit that I didn’t have a clear picture myself. The reported facts seemed to be contradictory. However, now I think it’s basically proven: Ebola damaged the economies of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone considerably.
Newspaper articles report of severe impacts on the petty trade.
It is claimed that the travel restrictions imposed had a big negative impact. Overland travel was strictly controlled for an extended time period, and farmers claimed not being able to reach markets, whole sale markets couldn’t be reached by small traders anymore and so on. In the newspaper article, Mrs Bio reports that her products are laying for months in the shelves, waiting for customers. And also a study of UNDP is citing a member of the governmental trade department:
“Ebola is killing thousands every month, but the restrictions in the fight against Ebola destroy dozens of businesses every day.”
The report (“Impact of the Ebola Virus Disease on Business Establishments in Sierra Leone”, UNDP, December 2014) shows, that 9 of 10 businesses report a significant reduction in the production sector. This resulted in the loss of employment opportunities. 3/5 of all businesses claim, they were forced to reduce their staff. I know one example: A Lebanese supermarket close to our office is about to close down. The owner said, the business was reduced considerably because of Ebola and for 2015 he is not expecting any betterment. One of my colleagues told me that Liberia entered a phase of regression already, being rooted in the months-long fight against Ebola. Here in Sierra Leone the Ministry of Finance claims that the annual growth dropped from 9% to 4%. But I think those numbers are not yet verified.