Despite the damage the coronavirus is causing to Africa, the pandemic should be seen as an opportunity to birth a new Africa that guarantees food security, quality and affordable healthcare and cutting-edge education for citizens in the continent, writes Obinna Chima
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the underbelly of economies in Africa, thereby shining the light of their fragile state.
According to the Africa Development Bank, disruptions due to the pandemic could see economies in the region lose between $22 billion and $88 billion, as the continent faces unprecedented health and economic crises which threaten to reverse the development progress of recent years.
On its part, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), stressed that no country in the region would be spared, projecting that economic growth in Africa would contract this year. In its prediction, the Washington-based institution projected that across the continent, the less diversified economies would be hit the hardest, reflecting the impact of lower commodity prices and containment efforts.
“The large adverse shocks will exacerbate social conditions and aggravate existing economic vulnerabilities. Given the limited social safety net available, people will suffer.
“Moreover, the pandemic is reaching the shores of the continent at a time when budgetary space to absorb such shocks is limited in most countries, thus complicating the appropriate policy response,” the IMF stated in its Regional Economic Outlook for sub Saharan Africa released recently.
These concerns and how to navigate the anticipated economic downturn in the region was the focus at the United Bank for Africa’s (UBA) 2020 Africa Day Conversations, held last week. The presidential panel at the forum, with the theme: “Growth, Jobs, and Sustainable Development Amidst a global Pandemic,” was moderated by the Chairman of the bank, Mr. Tony Elumelu.
Some members of the panel included President of Liberia, Mr. George Weah; United States Senator, Mr. Chris Coons; President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mr. Peter Maurer; President and Founder, Africa CEO Forum, Amir Ben Yahmed; former AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka; President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Prof. Benedict Oramah; Secretary General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, Georges Chikoti, and the Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Achim Steiner.
They stressed the need for policymakers in the continent to look inward and adopt measures to create enabling environment for businesses to thrive post-COVID-19. This, they said was vital in rebuilding the African economy that has been damaged by the virus.