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COVID-19 and African Firms: Impactand Coping Strategies

World Bank 2021.04.30
Drawing on a representative survey offirms in 38 countries, eight of which are in Sub-SaharanAfrica, this paper documents the impact of COVID-19 andfirms’ coping strategies in Sub-Saharan Africa, benchmarkingwith other regions. The paper shows that the impact of thepandemic is more pronounced in Sub-Saharan Africa comparedwith other regions. This disproportionate impact is notexplained by differences in sectoral composition and otherfirm characteristics, but likely by the level ofdevelopment. This underscores the important economic andstructural contexts that predate the pandemic inunderstanding the differential impact. Contrary toexpectations, the findings show that businesses inSub-Saharan Africa are more likely to adjust theiroperations or products and services to adapt to the shockthan those in other regions. However, firms in the regionlag in leveraging digital technologies, remote working, ande-commerce, compared with those in other regions.

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