While Liberia was trying to become the next economic superstar in Africa, Ebola came and brought a sharp break in economic growth. The decline in growth is not just happening in Liberia. Across Africa, The Ebola outbreak has brought a series of pessimistic consequences: construction has halted, people have lost jobs, and foreign investors have left. Above all, Ebola has ravaged the health sector and the agriculture industry.
Although Ebola could conceivably help the healthcare industry in the short term because of additional money being spent, high health care costs are hitting the country’s health care system. Huge healthcare system costs are arising from training health workers, testing for the Ebola virus, and treating Ebola patients. Waste disposal and unused hospital beds in isolation areas are also contributing to high healthcare costs. If Ebola continues to spread, especially to other continents, global healthcare costs and the industry as a whole will be impacted.
Agriculture accounts for 40% of the economic output in Liberia and Sierra Leone and a quarter of the economic output in Guinea. This sector is taking a hit from the Ebola virus, as farmers are being forced to leave the field and are unable to trade across borders, according to Manji Cheto, Vice President at the New York-based Teneo Intelligence consultancy. If the agriculture industry's output continues to slow, Africa’s exports will decrease and might result in trade imbalances with other countries. Then, currency exchange rates will suffer and negatively impact people’s living standards.
Before the Ebola outbreak, Africa was considered one of the emerging markets that had huge growth potential. Now, Africa is worried as investors are leaving the continent and taking their investments with them. Like the finance minister of Sierra Leone, Kaifala Marah, said earlier, “by default, [Ebola] really is an economic embargo.”