As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rise in Nigeria, the Federal Government is considering adopting more stringent measures to stem its rapid spread across the country. But what economic impact does the virus have on the country?
This live coronavirus article has been updated on April 2, 2020.
April 2, 2020 | AtoZ Markets – It is no longer news that in December 2019, the world woke up to the report of a novel viral infection, coronavirus (COVID-19), with its first case reported in Wuhan, China. Coronavirus was declared a global pandemic after cases were recorded in most continents. Africa recorded its first case in February 2020.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide at the above time stood at 954,972. In total, 48,354 people have died from COVID-19, while 203,414 have recovered from the disease.
Getting this pandemic under control has proven quite challenging as the world awaits a cure. And considering the spread rate, more drastic measures have come into play. The most effective measure thus far has been self-isolation or social distancing, with remote work as a subset.
As these measures are being trialed around the world, it is important to consider how the coronavirus is affecting the economy of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.
Coronavirus cases in Nigeria
Since Nigeria recorded its index case of COVID-19 in late February, the numbers have continued to rise. As of April 2, 2 deaths and 174 confirmed cases of the virus have been recorded in Nigeria, home to about 200m people. Of this number, 81 cases are in Lagos, Nigeria’s megacity with an estimated population of 20m. The disease has spread to Nigeria’s capital Abuja as well as nine out of Nigeria’s 36 states. So far, 9 persons have recovered.
The federal government has also enforced a 14-day lockdown in the commercial hub, Lagos, neighboring Ogun and the nation’s capital, Abuja.
“All citizens in these areas are to stay in their homes. Travel to or from other states should be postponed. All businesses and offices within these locations should be fully closed during this period,” President Buhari said in an address to the nation.
Oil-rich Rivers state and Kaduna state in the north earlier imposed similar lockdown measures.
The restrictions announced do not apply to hospitals and stores selling essential items such as groceries and medicine.
“We will use this containment period to identify, trace and isolate all individuals that have come into contact with confirmed cases,” Buhari said.
It is worthy of note that an Italian man that was confirmed as the country’s first coronavirus case. He arrived in Lagos from Milan and traveled to the nearby Ogun state where he was for almost two full days before being isolated.
According to the Lagos state government, the Italian man arrived Lagos on February 24 on a Turkish Airlines flight.
Some top government officials, including the chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, and a state governor have tested positive for coronavirus, according to The Cable. Some government officials have revealed that they are in self-isolation after coming in contact with confirmed cases. The minister of health Osagie Ehanire said:
“We are working closely with states to conduct contact tracing to identify those who have been in close contact with confirmed cases. We urge all Nigerians to practice social distancing and limit all mass gatherings including religious, social and political events.”
How is coronavirus impacting Nigeria’s economy?
Troubled by the rising cases and perhaps on-going transmission, the federal government has announced plans to ban inter-state travel and possibly close down all motor parks.
The Lagos state government has imposed strict measures to combat the virus. These measures include allowing the majority of civil servants to work from home, asking restaurants not to serve eat-in customers. Authorities have also reduced the number of people allowed in any public gathering from 50 to 25.
“We are doing all we can to flatten the curve and stop COVID-19,” Sanwo-Olu said in a televised address.
These measures, however, are taking a toll on traders and residents alike. Experts fear that a city like Lagos and even Nigeria will be unable to sustain a lockdown without serious economic consequences.
Informal sector suffers
The oil industry is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. Nevertheless, the majority of Nigerians are in the informal sector. While Lagos state government is looking to limit the spread of the virus in the country through actions that will invariably limit trade, trade is a large part of the economy in the state and may lead to a lot of sectors going out of business and retrenching employees.
“On a normal day I would have attended to up to 25 customers but today not many people are coming out to buy anything from us,” said a food vendor. “A lot of people have bought plenty of food and other items so there will be a huge decline in sales.”
Oghenekome, a commercial taxi driver, said there are hardly customers nowadays.
“Look at the road, there is nobody or car anywhere,” he remarked, pointing to a peaceful access road sandwiched by closed offices and schools. “Where will the customers come from?”
According to the UN, 80% of Nigerians that earn an income are active in the informal sector or in vulnerable employment. These types of employment generally lack social security and do not guarantee any kinds of rights.
As a result, experts believe that there will be an uptick in crimes in Nigeria and particularly the spaces that are under any form of lockdown.
At the moment, the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers is mulling a move to have their staff at home. Something that will potentially keep Nigerians immobile and in the dark. At the moment, the country is in a lot of debt and can not borrow at this time.
Government, banks and wealthy individuals contribute billions to fight coronavirus in Nigeria
Wealthy Nigerians, including banks, have also donated billions of Naira to help curtail the spread of coronavirus in the country. The United Bank for Africa (UBA) announced Thursday a donation of 5 billion Naira. This will be used to provide beds for isolation centers and intensive care unit facilities. The funds will also be used to direct access to medical advice to up to 450,000 citizens every day.
Femi Otedola, an entrepreneurial mogul and billionaire has announced a donation of a sum of N1 billion towards the eradication of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man have contributed N200 million Naira to support the government in curtailing the pandemic.
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