The Threat to the World’s Poorest – Coronavirus

The Threat to the World’s Poorest – Coronavirus

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print

Coronavirus cannot be Defeated for any of us until it is Defeated for all

The coronavirus has over time proven to not only be a health pandemic, but also a potentially devasting economic catastrophe to billions worldwide. It is the society’s weakest and poorest that are likely to be worst hit. The disease has become a threat to the world’s poorest

It’s not far-fetched to say that no economy is exempt from the negative impact of another. It’s a global village after all, as advertised. Thus, current times make it stupendously ill-advised to leave Africa’s economy out of conversations on reducing the fiscal impact of COVID-19 now and after we beat it, specifically the threat to the poor and needy.

It is no longer a secret that should this coronavirus continue to spread into the coming months, for the poorest of us, the plunge from prosperity to peril will be as swift as the switch to lockdown protocols. The 2020 economic growth rate for the world and that of individual countries have already declined to very low values, implying no improvement in standards and cost of living for those that are already at the bottom of the barrel.

That is focus of what you’re about to read, a spotlight on those at the bottom of the barrel and how this pandemic will likely mean much worse for them.

Rya Kuewor is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Refugee Integration Organization (RIO) and an Agenda Contributor with the World Economic Forum. Simon Turner is a Consultant with the African Health Innovation Center and a Director at Founder Institute. Both are Migrant Reintegration Consultants with SOCIAL IMPACT, an organization that has been instrumental in designing and implementing innovative qualifications and start-up support for socially disadvantaged groups.

These are all facts, and this is an opinion piece.

Enjoy the read!

By Rya Kuewor and Simon Turner

While it is fair to say that to some extent COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate, it’s also a given that once it starts to hit the world’s poorest, marginalised and most vulnerable, inequality will yet again prove to be a devastating curse.

With little or no access to clean water, shelter, information, healthcare, food, or even the luxury of “social distancing”, the world’s poorest and most vulnerable are at increased risk of suffering the worst from COVID-19. Adding up the 25.9 million refugees living in camps, and the 41.3 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs), as well as the 900 million people who live in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) – most of which are African nations – over a billion people are at risk and almost 50 countries face the risk of catastrophic failures.

The Problem of the World’s Poorest

While recognising the importance of learning from other countries like China, Italy, Germany, and South Korea, African leadership and its citizens should not think Africa, as sovereign nations and as a continent, will experience similar timeframes with regards to the time it will take to get a handle on the extent of COVID-19 pandemic. As of today (10 Apr, 2020), there are just over 13,000 recorded cases in the whole of Africa, but celebrating these relatively low numbers as a win would be a mistake, because they are at least partly a result of insufficient testing.

We are also potentially being lulled into a false sense of security by taking as gospel the possibility that the disease is less infective in warmer temperatures. Even if it were the case, “this will be a source of concern for Southern Africa, which is heading into its colder months and “flu season,” and so their healthcare systems – already creaking – will quickly be overwhelmed. The outlook for the rest of the continent is equally bleak, with most countries unprepared to cope with the pandemic for a prolonged time. This coping ability is contingent on how soon robust measures to combat the viral spread are enforced and/or a vaccine or other solution is developed (which is unlikely until before 2021), but most African nations currently cannot effectively implement these measures.  

The Impact

The public health, economic and social devastation the world has seen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic will be many times more severe in developing countries if the viral spread is not contained. In normal times, low-income countries are familiar with poor infrastructure, social amenities and healthcare (not to mention conflict) – with Africa alone carrying a quarter of the world’s disease burden but is responsible for only 1% of global health expenditure – meaning that adding on the ravages of COVID-19 further worsens the situation of many African nations.

Africa quite simply is unlikely to be able to follow most of the world in locking down countries and regions to help contain the spread of the Coronavirus. While the US, European, Australasian and Asian countries are able to enforce quarantines, they can also cushion the impacts of the quarantines on their citizens. From direct financial aid to households, to corporate bailouts of up to 2 trillion dollars (in the US), these nations and regions are far better prepared to deal with the pandemic and its immediate aftermath.

About 85% of Africans live on less than $5.50 dollars a day, many earning daily wages in low-skilled work. Enforced quarantines and stay-at-home orders will abruptly upend the livelihoods of these people, many of whom do not have the reserve resources to shelter in place. For the people who live hand-to-mouth and in extreme poverty in Africa, many living in shacks and slums with little chance of social distancing, insufficient potable water or sanitation, their communities could easily become a nexus for the viral spread. Because more than a quarter of the world’s hungry live in Africa, the imminent dilemma of either starving or maybe catching COVID-19 will become a bleak reality for many poor families, some of whom may be forced to risk infection.

For some of these vulnerable communities, particularly in refugee camps and for many IDPs, the threat of pandemic is but another of many life-threatening situations they have had to navigate for years. In addition, following how Ebola caused grave stigma against survivors, COVID-19 may engender how survivors or infected persons are treated. Facing the potential for vigilante violence, some already marginalised infected people may decide not to get tested or receive treatment.

The expected economic impact of COVID-19 in Africa is another formidable battle in its right. Carrying over $100 billion in sovereign debts, African governments will be hard-pressed to meet their debt obligations, serviced at up to 10% – mostly because of their reputation as risky borrowers. Amid sudden disruptions to international supply chains and reduced foreign direct investment and demand for raw materials, African economies are projected to grow 1.8% in 2020, almost one half of the 3.2% growth rate forecasted before the pandemic. Additionally burdened with necessary quarantine measures like closed borders and reduced internal trade, these governments will see their already insufficient internal revenues shrink dramatically.

African governments and organisations are mitigating the crisis, and have enacted economic stimulus spending plans to help soften the blow of COVID-19, like the African Development Bank’s $3 billion bond for economic relief in African countries. Also countries like Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Egypt and Mauritius have rolled out stimulus packages, and cut interest rates in response to the crisis. The question now remains of how much of this economic alleviation will reach the most vulnerable people – who are least able to weather this crisis, and how much of it will be corporate handouts.

The success of African governments’ efforts in managing the COVID-19 pandemic is partly contingent on their economic relationship between its trade and economic partners, such as China, Europe and the IMF. Without debt relief, bailouts and humanitarian aid, many African economies could crumble under the weight of the pandemic effects. Granted, many indebted African governments were overleveraged before the crisis, but those issues could take a backseat in the interim – you don’t focus on the firefighting bill while the house is still on fire. It is imperative that multilateral institutions like the IMF and World Bank Group support African economies, and give them the fiscal space they need to survive this crisis, as well as get back on their feet when this is over.

The Hope for the World’s Poorest

In dealing with the public health, social and economic devastation of COVID-19, countries have adopted different approaches to dealing with the crisis, including technological tools that have immensely enabled developed nations to implement quarantines without total disruption. Even though developing countries have limited access to some of these tools and the infrastructure they require, many of them, such as Ghana, have taken heed of the early warnings and learned lessons from earlier affected countries.

The urgency of the crisis has spurred some good innovation across Africa, like Senegal’s race to mass produce cheap test kits. In Ghana, Redbird Inc., a healthcare startup has developed a Covid-19 Symptom Tracker and Reporter to help public health officials map the geographic spread of symptoms. As Patrick Beattie, the CEO of Redbird states, “necessity is the mother of invention and it means it’s even more important for us to develop new tools to help those in charge of the response.”

Between these public health efforts and different measures to soften the economic blow of this pandemic, developing countries are bracing themselves to get hard-hit by COVID-19. The extent of this anticipated damage is still unknown, and so it is anyone’s guess how well countries will survive this crisis. One of the few things we do know, however, is that “supporting the poorest countries is essential because this crisis cannot be defeated for any of us until it is defeated for all.”

Have a lovely week!

Maxwell Ampong - ghanatalksbusiness
Maxwell Ampong, Author

Maxwell Ampong is the CEO of Maxwell Investments Group, a Trading and Business Solutions provider. He is also the Business Advisor for the General Agricultural Workers’ Union of TUC (Gh). He writes about trending and relevant economic topics, and general perspective pieces.

LinkedIn:/in/thisisthemax   Instagram:@thisisthemax   Twitter:@thisisthemax   Facebook:@thisisthemax   Website: www.maxwellinvestmentsgroup.com   Email: maxwell@maxwellinvestmentsgroup.com   Mobile: 0249993319

The post The Threat to the World’s Poorest – Coronavirus appeared first on Ghana Talks Business.

Ghana Talks Business

You might also enjoy

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

Conférence de Presse en Ligne


Les frontières terrestres ne doivent pas constituer des obstacles à la dissémination de votre message. Grâce à notre service de conférence de presse en ligne, nous vous offrons l’opportunité de vous rapprocher des médias africains, chaque fois que vous en aurez besoin.

Nos services comprennent:

Digital Communications


Today, social networks constitute an organization’s first point of contact with a user and a potential customer. At first glance, you need to convince of the relevance and quality of your content to stimulate and motivate the user to go further. We create consistently inspiring online strategy to meet business objectives, engage stakeholders and enhance our client brand’s reputation internally and externally.

 

Communication​ digitale


Les réseaux sociaux représentent aujourd’hui le premier point de contact d’une organisation avec un utilisateur et un client potentiel. Au premier coup d’œil, vous devez le convaincre de la pertinence et de la qualité de votre contenu pour l’inciter à aller plus loin. Nous créons pour vous une stratégie de communication précise et adaptée sur les réseaux sociaux pour atteindre les objectifs commerciaux, impliquer les parties prenantes et améliorer la réputation de votre marque en interne et en externe.

Promotion​ d’événements


Le succès d’un événement réside en moitié dans sa promotion. Peu importe la beauté de l’événement, la qualité des orateurs et de l’ordre du jour, si personne ne rapporte ou ne parle de votre événement, vos efforts seront vains. Nous vous aidons à façonner votre récit et à créer un engouement autour de votre événement. De l’annonce de l’événement à la tenue de celui-ci, nous accompagnons votre effort de planification et le reflétons sur toutes les plateformes médiatiques.​

Formation​ Médiatique


Nous fournissons à vos porte-paroles les outils nécessaires pour présenter vos principaux messages et répondre avec confiance et cohérence aux questions. Notre formation est organisée soit à distance ou en présentiel, avec des études de cas réels et des répétitions. Nos clients repartent avec le sentiment d’être à l’aise devant les journalistes et d’agir en tant qu’ambassadeurs de la marque.

Veille​ Médiatique


Nous mesurons votre portée en relations publiques et rendons compte des informations de votre industrie et des activités de vos  concurrents en surveillant la majorité des canaux de diffusion dans toute l’Afrique. Une veille médiatique complète et opportune est essentielle pour s’assurer que vous ne manquez aucune référence à votre marque, que vous êtes constamment informé de ce qui se passe dans votre industrie et que vous êtes prêt à saisir les opportunités et à réduire les risques en temps opportun.

Relations​ Média


Peu importe le lieu où ils se trouvent, nous sommes une source d‘informations fiables pour les journalistes qui écrivent sur l’Afrique. Nous nous connaissons mutuellement et ils nous font confiance, car nous leur fournissons un contenu crédible qui les aide dans leurs tâches. Nous nous entretenons quotidiennement avec des journalistes aux quatre coins du continent, ce qui fait de nous l’un des organismes les plus efficaces pour mener des campagnes de relations avec les médias.

Stratégie et développement de contenu


Nous créons des stratégies de communication intelligentes, bien documentées et spécialisées destinées à vous aider à construire un récit fort qui engagera votre audience. Nous travaillons en synergie avec vous afin de rédiger des communiqués de presse et des articles d’opinions qui alimentent le récit de votre entreprise. Notre équipe a une expérience approfondie dans la création de récits et le développement de contenu multimédia.

DIFFUSION DE COMMUNIQUES​ DE PRESSE​


C’est le service phare d’AMA. Nous avons mis en place des canaux de diffusion des communiqués de presse auprès des journalistes des 54 États africains ainsi qu’auprès des journalistes américains et européens couvrant les sujets relatifs aux marchés émergents.​

​Nos services comprennent:​

Event Promotion


Half of the success of an event lays in its promotion. Doesn’t matter how beautiful the event is, how wonderful the speakers and the agenda are, if no one reports or talks about your event, your efforts are gone. We help you shape the narrative and create a drumbeat around your event. From the announce all the way to the outcome of the event, we accompany your planning effort and echo it through all media platforms

Media Training


We provide your spokespeople with the tools to present your key messages and answer questions with confidence and coherence. Our training is organised either remotely or face-to- face, with real case studies and rehearsals. Our clients leave feeling comfortable being in front of reporters and acting as brand ambassadors.

Media Monitoring


We measure and report on
your PR reach, industry news, and competitive activity by monitoring most channels in North, West, Central, East and Southern Africa. Comprehensive and timely media monitoring is critical to ensuring that you don’t miss any reporting of your brand,
you’re constantly informed on what’s going on around your business, and you’re ready to capitalise on opportunities and mitigate
risks in a timely fashion..

Media Relations


We have become an authoritative source of news for reporters writing about Africa, wherever they are. We know them, they know us, and they trust us for providing them with timely and accurate content that helps them do their job. We speak to reporters on a daily basis in all corners of the continent and this makes us one of the most effective agencies in running media relations campaigns.

Strategy & Content Development


We create smart and localised communications strategies to help build a strong narrative that will engage your audiences. We partner with you to create press releases and thought leadership pieces that sustain a drumbeat for your company’s narrative. Our team have deep experience in shaping narratives and developing media content.

PRESS RELEASE WIRE DISTRIBUTION

This is AMA’s flagship service. We have set up channels of distribution towards the journalists of the 54 African states, as well as to American journalists and European journalists covering emerging markets issues.
Our service includes:

Editorial advice

Localised editorial piece when needed

Distribution to the major print, broadcast and online publications along with industry-specific publications

Follow-up calls to secure interview request

Guaranteed distribution to Africa.com

Distribution to Bloomberg, LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters

Social Media Reach: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram

Full online monitoring and print monitoring when available. Includesreadership stats and Advertising Value Equivalent

Translation in French, Arabic and Portuguese available