Ebola and the Private Sector

Member Author: 
Oxfam Canada

Ebola and the Private Sector

Bolstering the response and West African economies


The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is unprecedented. The increasing number of cases, the poor health infrastructure, the shortage of skills, knowledge and personnel, and the fear surrounding the disease are proving a huge challenge to affected governments and to the international community as they battle to bring the epidemic under control. Ebola is a humanitarian crisis first and foremost; but it is also a mounting economic disaster for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The World Bank estimates the cost of the epidemic to be $3–4bn by the end of 2015, many times more than the amount donated for the response so far. The impact is measurable in terms of reduced production, diminished trade, disrupted agriculture, output forgone, higher fiscal deficits and rising prices. Household incomes are dropping due to the reduction in the labour market, the loss of harvests, reduced passengers for transport operators, the temporary and occasional closure of markets, partial operations of banks, restrictions on the movement of artisans, the closure of government offices and laying off of workers: in Liberia, nearly half of those working when the outbreak was first detected in March 2014 no longer had jobs by early November.


This briefing shows how important the private sector is to both the response and the recovery, and urges:

  • All companies: to contribute directly and urgently to the international Ebola response;
  • Companies with operations and supply chains across Africa and in affected countries: to be at the forefront in the fight against Ebola: to keep their business operations open, take concrete actions, and to support long-term economic recovery.