Nigeria has the largest poor population in sub-Saharan Africa, with 79 million extremely poor in 2018, the World Bank said in a new report on Wednesday.
The country accounts for 20 per cent of the total poor in the region, according to the bank’s biennial ‘Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report’.
The report said the COVID-19 pandemic would push up to 40 million into extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.
It said, “Almost half of poor people in sub-Saharan Africa live in just five economies: Nigeria (79 million), the Democratic Republic of Congo (60 million), Tanzania (28 million), Ethiopia (26 million), and Madagascar (20 million).
“In Nigeria, administrative areas in the north and northeast have poverty rates higher than the national average, but poverty rates are lower in areas closer to the coast.”
According to the report, many of the global poor live in middle-income countries, such as India and Nigeria, where the income requirement for being non-poor is higher than the international poverty line.
The World Bank described sub-Saharan Africa as the region with the largest concentration of the extreme poor, with many economies having poverty rates well above the world average.
It said, “Of the 44 economies with available poverty estimates in the region, 38 have a rate of extreme poverty higher than 10 per cent. Half of the economies have poverty rates higher than 35 per cent.
“Of the 20 economies with the largest poverty rates (based on PovacalNet estimates), 18 are in sub-Saharan Africa, and two are in the Middle East and North Africa (Syria and the Republic of Yemen).”
The World Bank estimated that the COVID-19 pandemic would push an additional 88 to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year, with the total rising to as many as 150 million by 2021, depending on the severity of the economic contraction.
Extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.90 a day, is likely to affect between 9.1 per cent and 9.4 per cent of the world’s population in 2020, according to the report.
The report said although the economic decline in sub-Saharan Africa was projected to be more modest than in advanced economies, the pandemic “will likely spur one of the largest increases in extreme poverty: some 27 million to 40 million new poor, reflecting the large number of people who were living on the edge of poverty.”
The report said many of the new poor would be in countries that already have high poverty rates.