#COVID-19 has posed enormous challenges to the health sector across the world.
The impact is seemingly unlimited to the health sector but also other driving sectors like education, sports, economy among others.
Africa is already feeling the effect on its economies due to lack of access to industrial components and produces such as medical equipment, and other sophisticated industrial goods demanded for African consumption from the global markets such as Asia, Europe and America which were shut down by this pandemic.
Initially, Africa had focused on slowing down the viral contagion with measures, including the closing of borders.
The coronavirus has presented a challenge to the continental project which leaders could also turn it into an opportunity for stronger collaboration given it’s perfect timing that, I may call a blessing in disguise based on the recent move to increase economic integration, with African Union officials recently swearing in the first-ever Secretary General of the newly created permanent secretariat of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
African leaders need to act in unison in addressing the economic consequences of the pandemic.
No one can easily predict or quantify the effect of this pandemic on the world’s economy, but any impact is definite to be significant.
In Africa, collaboration is the only available standing option to mitigate further spread of the Coronavirus contagion and addressing the economic challenges caused by it, especially for the continent’s sixteen landlocked countries Rwanda inclusive who needs access to seaports via their neighborhoods.
The travel and hospitality industry are definitely the most affected due to global shutdown of non-commercial flights on a large scale.
For the already under-performing regional airlines, this might spell another catastrophe added to the swelling wound.
With most countries imposing lockdowns, large parts of the services sectors are likely to suffer dire outcomes.
The hospitality, education, sports and recreation sectors, are among those most affected with this partial or full lockdown exercised by different states.
Most African countries heavily rely on macro-economics (small businesses) which act as a lynchpin connecting the pandemic to a broader economic recession, governments around the world have scrambled to chop back the operational stresses on them.
They have introduced policies meant to help micro small and medium enterprises address short-term financial risks and long-term business implications.
This perhaps will reduce layoffs, prevent bankruptcy, encourage investment and help economies return to on their feet at the soonest time possible.
The African Union has already recognized that Africa can be stronger if countries are more integrated and unified with the birth of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
It is therefore imperative now than never before that a joint action by the continental leaders be made. I have no doubt that this will benefit the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences for Africa.
For countries like Tanzania, Burundi who have taken this pandemic as an unserious matter and on lighter note, Madagascar whose declaration for finding #COVID-19 medication which has been under serious scrutiny and mockery from the developed Nations questioning its lack of scientific proof, will continue to pose a big threat to the continent’s efforts to curb the spread of Coronavirus contagion.
Diversionary opinions shall not only put Africa at risk of higher spread of Coronavirus and un-necessary loss of human lives, but will also negatively impact on the social-economic life of our people, pull down the already limping economy to the deepest graveyard.
I predict this to cost us a fortune of generations to recover if not addressed now.
Much as Political leaders will continue to unearth all possible dynamics in making Africa victorious over the Coronavirus contagion, the private sectors owe their respective Governments and people a corporate social responsibility to raise above the line and support to ensure that, we overcome this pandemic strongly.
In some instances, the private sector is doing to their best to partner with Government agencies in fighting against #COVID-19 pandemic. Some examples include;
Rwandan biomedical engineers from the Integrated Polytechnic Regional College Kigali (IPRC) made the first ever ventilator locally built to support Coronavirus patients as the country continues to mobilize more from the public.
This saves the country a very hefty cost to raise such a live saving equipment.
In the Republic of South Africa (RSA), a Solidarity Response Fund was established as a public-private partnership to channel resources toward preventing transmission of the virus, understanding the magnitude of the pandemic, over US$50 million was raised through voluntary contributions.
In Kenya, a part of the factory that used to make clothing quickly pivoted its production and is now bobbing up 30,000 surgical masks on a daily basis.
In Kibera, a community-owned company is making hand sanitizer, masks, and protective clothing for the community, other informal settlements, and also the Kenyan national stockpile.
The outbreak of #COVID-19 is a real time checker on all angles for our state administrations and commitments.
The Author is a Socio-Economic Commentator in Kigali and an MBA (Strategic Management) Student at Mount Kenya University.