The World Economic Forum’s Regional Action Group for Africa, yesterday held its inaugural (virtual) meeting for 2020 to look at the continent’s response to COVID-19 and economic implications the pandemic will have to the region.
The Regional Action Group for Africa was launched by the World Economic Forum, consisting of 50 chief executive officers, Ministers and key organisations from the region who are long standing partners of the forum in driving public private cooperation for impact.
The virtual meeting was attended by Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Executive Secretary Vera Songwe, Sakunda Holdings chief executive officer and founder Kudakwashe Regimond Tagwirei, AngloGold Ashanti chairman Sipho Pityana, Absa Group chief executive officer Daniel Mminele among other successful people in the continent.
According to the meeting write-up, socio-economic issues, geopolitica issues and industrial issues were to be considered for the good of the region.
Sakunda Holdings CEO Mr Tagwirei told the meeting that serious attention must be put towards promoting research and development with institutions of higher learning.
“There is need for awareness campaigns regarding the impact of COVID-19 to ensure that our citizens are well-informed and precautionary measures are being taken by governments. We also need to pay special attention to the funding of research and development within universities across the continent to ensure we have adequate information to fight this disease as well as for generations to come,” he said.
Mr Tagwirei also added that investing in agriculture is key in ensuring the fight against hunger is achieved for economic transformation.
“Investing in agriculture must also be a priority and this can be done through building capacity among African institutions to fight hunger,” he said.
Botswana President Masisi who attended the meeting to give special remarks, said supply chain security for critical supplies is important to livelihoods and health response, necessitating a coordinated approach by the continent.
“Lockdowns in at least 33 of Africa’s 54 countries have blocked farmers from getting food to the market, how can governments balance necessary public health measures with the need to protect incomes as well as secure food supplies and essential services. There is need to help policy makers produce post COVID 19 economic growth agendas and develop solutions to mitigate the rising social tensions arising from lockdowns,” he said.
President Masisi also noted that the pandemic gives the continent an opportunity to redefine Africa’s growth trajectory.
“The COVID-19 pandemic presents the greatest opportunity to completely redefine Africa’s growth trajectory by boosting productivity and shifting from commodity based growth. African multistakeholder efforts to influence the long term structural elements of the economy need to consider employment, development, import substitution, climate risks and the overall structure of the desired economic structure post COVID-19,” said President Masisi.
According to the World Economic Forum, the exports and imports of African countries are projected to drop by at least 35 percent from the level reach in 2019. The loss in value is estimated at approximately USD 270 billion.