Africa must to take advantage of raging coronavirus pandemic to develop its economy for self-sustainability.
This was the position of experts who participated in a webinar to chart a new path for economy growth amidst coronavirus crisis and looming global recession.
The webinar was organised by Foreign Investment Network (FIN) in partnership with Euro Knowledge.
Anchored on the theme: “COVID-19 Economic Threat: How Industries in Africa can survive the shock”, the webinar had panelists from different part of Africa, including Nigeria, who explored growth options for African economies.
Speaking during the session moderated by a foremost United Kingdom journalist and a board member of FIN, Nick Kochan, Minister of Finance, Planning and Economy, Equitorial Guinea, Ceasar Abogo want Africans to maximize the lockdown period to think out of the box and learn and apply innovations.
He noted that this was important to ameliorate the effects of COVID-19 on Africa when the virus might have lost its hold.
Abogo was of the opinion that COVID-19 could be a blessing in disguise for Africa which has a lot of scores to settle internally as the crisis has further dug out it inefficiency and need to act urgently.
He added that “There is urgent need to put right fiscal and monetary policies in place to protect the continent economy. Take for instance, Equitorial Guinea has come up with enabling laws to help its give more support to SMEs and the most vulnerable citizens in order to mitigate the effects of Covid-19.”
On his part, Former Director of SMEs at the Bank of Industry, Dr Waheed Olagunju advised Nigeria to gear up her diversification effort so as to build a self-reliant economy.
He maintained that for Nigeria to survive the economy threat posed by the virus, it must domesticate production capacity, diversify supply chains, strengthen the private sector and source alternative ways of getting raw materials from China.
“This is not to target China but to become less dependent of them. We have to boost intra-commerce within Africa and reset our ways of doing things. It is all about being more sustainable”.
“Let us make use of our trade institutions like AFDB, AFREXIM etc. We must begin to domesticate production of drugs, food, and agriculture such that other parts of the world can source for opportunities in Africa,” he said.
African Union (AU) Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Mr. Albert Muchanga stated that Corona Virus had particularly taken its toll on industry and trade.
He said that AU was not resting on its oars since the outbreak of COVID-19 which explained its intervention through policy response and action plan.
“The major impacts of the pandemic on trade and industry include: distortion of trade, docks, airports, and closed borders. Manufacturing and mining are the major distraction while the “stay at home” order has made has dragged down all industries.
“The AU and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have entered into partnership to address these challenges. We are also looking at debt rescheduling for African countries and so far, we are encouraged by the efforts of our international partners like IMF and the World Bank.
“It is a fact that recession looms in Africa due to the virus and this is why the AU President has mobilized envoys across the five regions to intervene, strengthen public health and regenerate African economy,” he informed.