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Health News of Thursday, 26 August 2021

Source: GNA

Coronavirus positives sparking Africa's future

African countries are gradually rolling out vaccination campaigns despite lack of jabs African countries are gradually rolling out vaccination campaigns despite lack of jabs

The relatively low number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities in Africa is no mean achievement.

The story could have been different with disastrous impacts on the continent's overstretched health systems, resulting in a socio-economic crisis.

But swift actions from governments to restrict large gatherings, early lockdowns, border closures and the resolve of the people to observe the COVID-19 protocols are producing fairly positive results-cases plateauing.

Some countries have experienced second and third waves but arguably well contained, though vaccine rollout is slow.

There is fear for the fourth wave for countries like South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, and Kenya, but with testing, vaccination, and good adherence to healthy measures, that too, will be scaled.

Whiles the continent is under no illusions that it is out of the woods, its achievement in reducing vulnerability to external shock in the tourism sector is worth celebrating.

In 2019, tourism accounted for about seven percent of Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is said to have contributed USD 169 billion to the economy.

In the same year, Africa’s travel and tourism sector employed more than 24 million people, says the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

COVID-19, however, brought the sector to its knees with the African Union estimating that Africa lost nearly USD 55 billion in travel and tourism revenue and two million jobs in only the first three months of the pandemic.

This is largely due to dependence on foreign travel but picking from 2019 where domestic tourism accounted for 55 percent of Africa’s travel and tourism, the sector leaped the breaking point, recovering steadily with campaigns on domestic tourism.

Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and Rwanda are among countries developing local and regional tourism markets.

Currently, regions in Ghana are in a healthy competition of promoting and marketing their tourism potentials with some organizing homecomings to grow the local economy.

Another COVID-19 positive is the reshaping of labour with support for digital skill development.

Digital learning, working, and shopping are gradually becoming the new normal with mainly young people developing digital skills for new markets-social media.

The youth are gradually becoming more entrepreneurial, with many not looking up to the government for employment. Young people are going into Agriculture, Agro-processing, technological innovations, and exploring the digital economy with a promising future with AfCFTA.

This is receiving a big push with supports from governments for Small and Medium-scale Enterprises.

Opportunities are emerging with the continent gradually finding a new balance, as COVID-19 is strengthening Africa’s health sector - Ghana and others to soon manufacture vaccines locally, with huge investment in health infrastructure.

The operationalization of AfCFTA is just timely, and it is expected that leaders of the continent will ride on its shoulders to industrialize for Africa to assume its rightful place in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Ghana's Minister of Information, at a Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank Breakfast Meeting on the theme: "Media and Marketing Communication post-COVID; a catalyst for Africa's socio-economic resurgence," says the State is playing its role towards achieving herd immunity through vaccination, opening the economy, and improving domestic resource mobilization for trade across the continent and commends the media and the marketing industry for the strong support that is driving the citizenry to understand and play their respective roles for a brighter future.

Mr. George Twumasi, Chief Executive Officer, ABN Holdings Limited, says Africa could soon become a digital hub and challenged the media to take advantage of opportunities posed by COVID-19.

Mr. Ato Afful, the Managing Director of Graphic Communications Group Limited, says it is important for the media to restore hope and build social cohesion as the continent recovers from the pandemic.

Mr. Kwamina Asomaning, Managing Director, Stanbic Bank, says, so far, so good, and underscores the need for the media to "lubricate" the economy by promoting consumption, trade, and investments for a promising Africa market.