Revisiting poverty trends and the role of social protection systems in Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic

Quantifying the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on poverty in Africa has been as difficult as predicting the path of the pandemic, mainly due to data limitations. The advent of new data sources, including national accounts and phone survey data, provides an opportunity for a thorough reassessment of the impact of the pandemic and the subsequent expansion of social protection systems on the evolution of poverty in Africa. In this paper, combine per capita GDP growth from national accounts with data from High-Frequency Phone Surveys for several countries to estimate the net impact of the pandemic on poverty. Find that the pandemic has increased poverty in Africa by 1.5-1.7 percentage points in 2020, relatively smaller than early estimates and projections. Also find that countries affected by Fragility, Conflict, and Violence (FCV) experienced the greatest increases in poverty, about 2.1 percentage points in 2020.