__The five greatest challenges after we defeat this global pandemic…
The CoronaVirus is a very serious health challenge, affecting the whole world. Even as we go through a very difficult time, we must not lose sight of the fact that we will defeat it, and we will return to normal life. Some of us are beginning to think ahead and I’d like you to as well. Here is my own list of the five greatest challenges. Let me know if you have others that I did not see:
#1. Restarting our economies;
#2. Getting children back to school;
#3. Food security;
#4. Creating jobs again;
#5. Other neglected diseases.
As one of you wrote here on the platform last week (Di Hoza), we must be “solution seekers”! Let’s get going.
#1. Restarting our economies.
Shutting down an economy through a “lockdown” is completely uncharted waters. We have never been this way before, as countries, on such a large scale. An economy is like a big blast furnace that’s used in making steel… It is designed to operate all the time, and if you shut it down, it gets damaged. It is that simple!
No matter what happens on the health front with COVID-19, our economies have been seriously damaged in more ways than an untrained eye can tell you right now. You will see in the next few months, weeks or even years what I mean.
This is economics, and not a religious class, guys. I, too, have faith: “We have been given a sound mind” so that we can reason carefully and act with knowledge and wisdom.
Our economies have been seriously damaged, and a lot of people are hurting without jobs, as businesses, big and small, close down. Exports are damaged. Almost every type of business, of every size, has been seriously damaged. Thousands of businesses have shut down for good, and will not re-open.
Millions are now jobless!
Those who return to work will be fearful, and not sure who they can even sit next to, or who might infect them. The world of work will be radically overhauled to create safe working environments again. It will not be easy, and it will take true leadership across the world.
Rich and powerful countries are already pumping $Trillions to try and jump-start their economies.
__Africa does not have this kind of money.
Africa’s smartest economists and business leaders are busy spending sleepless nights grappling with this!
#2. Getting children back to school.
According to UNESCO, the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting almost 1.6bn children and youth in 188 countries, as of 7 April. This is more than 91% of the world’s enrolled students. Take a look at this UNESCO link and calculate how many young learners are impacted in Africa as whole, and in your own country: https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse
It seems unbelievable, but it’s true.
We don’t yet know when, or how we get them back to school safely. The world has never seen anything like it before. If we don’t get these kids back to schools, colleges and universities, our future is gone! The impact could take decades to resolve.
For me this is Priority #1!
#3. Food security.
Africa imported food worth around $50bn last year. It was everything — rice, maize, beef, chicken, fish and much more. With our exports like oil and tourism smashed, we don’t have the money to import food.
The shortage of foreign exchange will likely also lead to high food prices across the board. Several countries that export food like rice and maize have suggested they are going to ban exports until the situation improves. Local #Agripreneurs, this is your time! We have to grow and trade our own food!
If prices of basic commodities shoot up in some parts of the world, it could lead to rioting or worse.
#4. Creating jobs again.
Even without COVID-19 ravaging our countries, the global lockdowns have likely destroyed more than 25m formal jobs across Africa, with industries like hospitality and tourism hardest hit. The small business sector has no reserves to hold on to workers, if there is no money coming in. If this goes on another three months, we could see 100m jobs wiped out.
We have to figure out a way to get people back to work safely. We also (each of us, as entrepreneurs) have to be #SolutionSeekers, urgently.
#5. Other neglected diseases.
CoronaVirus is a deadly disease for sure, but the other killer diseases have not gone away! And whilst we are all focused on COVID-19, these other diseases could resurge with a vengeance and end up killing even more people.
So many people waiting to be treated for things like malaria, diabetes, cancers, and other diseases are not being assisted because we are now all focused on this global pandemic caused by one virus.
Our health crisis is only going to get worse before it gets better, unless we keep an eye to ensure that these other diseases are not neglected.
__So, what do we do?
Anyone can make an observation, and most of these things are obvious if you really do care about what is happening in your country and across Africa.
__We now urgently need to study these problems carefully, and engage together to find #Solutions: local, national, continental and global.
In my next post I am going to suggest some ideas, but right now I want to hear what you have to say. The future of our communities, nations, continent and world depends more than ever on us not panicking or wasting time, but urgently seeking #Solutions. The world has never been this way before.
To be continued. . .
Image credit: With thanks to unknown photographer. Seen on Facebook some years ago.
Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.View all posts by Strive Masiyiwa