Ebola might ruin Africa
The economic costs of the Ebola crisis are beginning to bite in Africa even in those regions, which are yet to record any cases of the deadly virus. Ebola was first detected in some West African countries in July where it had wreaked havoc and left thousands dead and rendered thousands more orphans. While the effects of the Ebola virus had until recently been severe in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone where it has so far killed more than 4 500 people, the whole continent is beginning to count the costs of the disease.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf whose country has recorded 2 200 Ebola deaths says a generation of Africans were at risk of “being lost to economic catastrophe” if efforts to combat the disease are not heightened. President Johnson-Sirleaf says the disease “respects no borders” and true to her words, Africa is beginning to realise that even if a country has no known case of Ebola, it can still be affected economically that is.
In addition to the loss of life, the Ebola outbreak is negatively impacting on tourism, as many tourists are staying away from Africa for fear of being infected.
“People were travelling again. Things were picking up nicely. Then came the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and deaths from the disease and persistent media coverage in the United States have delivered a financial blow to the tourism industry,” says tour operator, Alluring Africa.
Zimbabwe’s 2014 edition of its premier tourism expo “Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo” recently also suffered the effects of Ebola although the country has not recorded a single case of the virus.
Over 30 international buyers from Asia and Europe pulled out of the expo over fears of the Ebola virus while hotel bookings worth US$6 million were cancelled countrywide since the deadly virus was detected in some West African countries in July.
This state of affairs has begged the plea from Liberian President Johnson-Sirleaf: “We all have a stake in the battle against Ebola. It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves.”
And given the international media coverage of the Ebola outbreak and the general lack of basic knowledge about geography in Africa, the continent is bound to suffer more losses on the economic front. Tourists from Europe, other western countries and Asia will be mistaken that West Africa is the whole of Africa and therefore will not travel to other parts of the continent.
The situation is not helped by investigations by some in West Africa which have led them to conclude that the United States might be responsible for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Dr Cyril Broderick, a Liberian scientist and a former professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Liberia’s College of Agriculture and Forestry says the West, particularly the U.S. is responsible for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Dr Broderick made the claims in an article published in the Daily Observer based in Monrovia, Liberia. According to Dr Broderick, the US Department of Defence is funding Ebola trials on humans, trials which started just weeks before the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and Sierra Leone. Such reports give credence to suspicions that some western countries are bent on ruining Africa economically and socially.