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Business News of Monday, 20 July 2020

Source: GNA

Use the coronavirus zeal to fix continental problems - Panellists say

Panellists in a virtual conference have jointly called for the translation of the zeal that triggered the rise to the challenge of the COVID-19 fight in Africa to catapult it into a self-sufficiency zone.

The Leadership, Ethics and Values-Initiative conference on the theme, "Home-Grown Solutions for the Socio-Economic Transformation of Africa post-COVID-19, aimed to realign Africa’s transformation through leadership, values, public good and resources", which was monitored by the Ghana News Agency.

The panellists said many global speakers from the developed world referred to the continent in a derogatory manner suggesting that the pandemic would sweep through Africa but the reverse is the reality.

They said the resoluteness with which Africa’s leadership rose to the challenge without available resources and equipment and improvised, stunned the world and that that enthusiasm must be applied to the new normal post-COVID-19.

They believed Africa’s home-grown solutions could be systematically identified, developed, resourced and scaled up for the collective good.

Ms Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, a panellist said the Coronavirus pandemic was deepening poverty, malnutrition and hunger in Africa and urged leaders to rise to this challenge by turning the fortunes of the continent around.

She said the process of undertaking this enormous task requires a particular type of values, mindset consciousness, self-belief and self-confidence especially within leadership at all levels and spheres.

She called for radical investment in ICT and IT infrastructure as well as technical and vocational studies to bridge the vast potential of the continent to leapfrog into finding home-grown solutions to its issues.

Ms Mohammed said only 20 countries were contributing to the ICT platforms with 66 innovative products in e-health, e-participation, e-agriculture, e-payments and e-commerce.

The Deputy Sec-Gen said Africa and Africans must look within themselves with their shared values, ideas and ideals, knowledge innovations and ingenuity for solutions.

Mr Wamkele Keabetswe Mene, Secretary-General, Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat said the COVID-19 crisis demanded that Africa should reconfigure its existence as weaknesses in industrialisation has exposed the continent to the global supply-chain, exacerbating the crisis and called for the establishment of manufacturing centres of excellence across Africa.

He said the future for Africa is heavy industrial development, investment in the capacity of health and agriculture and safeguarding the intellectual property rights across the public health spectrum.

He said Africa needs the legal framework and appropriate instruments to leverage on China’s influence on the continent, which suggests we build stronger safeguards to avoid over-dumping that could lead to job losses when the AfCFTA is tended to create more jobs for the teeming population of the continent.

He said transhipment of goods and preferences are not permitted under the AfCFTA.

Mr Kojo Parris, Chair-person of KBA Africa, a business incubation entity was excited how African leaders are handling the pandemic.

Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli, co-Founder of Sahel Consulting based in Niger advocated that agriculture should be taught in schools as agribusiness in Africa rather than being a science subject saying treating agriculture as a business broadens the scope of the subject and becomes attractive to the youth to explore.

She said Africa is resilient, resourceful and brave, ‘’what we need is to redesign and recreate the destiny of the population of the continent to collaborate and connect.’’

She said food insecurity has doubled rendering the continent fragile with the lockdown situation having a negative impact on food production, access to soft loans flaccid and pointing at increasing hunger and malnutrition.

Madam Nwuneli said Africa needs data, scorecards to improve productivity for shorter value-chains that have the potency to open up the food ecosystem, ensure local sourcing policies to unlock local value-chains.

Madam Bridgette Motsepe Radebe, South African Businesswoman, said western solutions cannot work for Africans and time has come for Africans to look for home-grown solutions to fix its challenges because we know our environment.

She said though 53 per cent of the global cobalt comes from Africa, the end product is missing in the production chain, which demands a change in mining laws so industrialisation and productivity could be enhanced.

She said COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call for Africa to integrate.

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