International

Coronavirus ‘devastating Somalia’s economy’

Money sent from abroad helps many people in Somalia pay for their basic needs

Somalia’s finance minister has told the BBC that Covid-19 is having a devastating effect on the economy.

Abdirahman Duale Beyle said remittance flows have dried up because so many Somalis abroad have lost their jobs due to the virus.

He added that government revenue has shrunk by 40% because it is unable to collect taxes.

Mr Beyle said he believed some people would starve as a result of the crash in remittance flows.

About $1.5bn (£1.2bn) a year are remitted to Somalia, significantly more than foreign aid, and many families depend on the cash for their survival.

It helps people pay for school fees, medical help or simply to buy food.

One of the largest money transfer companies in Somalia says remittances from the UK have fallen by 50%.

The country is already affected by Islamist militancy, clan fighting, regular droughts and floods and a locust invasion.

It is possible the hit to the economy from coronavirus will bring it to its knees.

But there is one glimmer of hope.

A $5bn injection of funds from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund – together with improved financial discipline – have made Somalia eligible for debt relief for the first time in 30 years.

The World Bank has just released a report saying that sub-Saharan Africa could lose $37bn in remittances because of coronavirus.