Voice Online – Experts from the worlds of business, finance and government have concluded that despite COVID-19 having a devastating impact on Africa’s economy the pandemic also offers an opportunity to reinvent economic systems on the continent and make small businesses more resilient.
Last week the inaugural Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) Leaders Forum brought together Heads of State, senior US and African government officials, CEOs and private sector executives to discuss how US – Africa business relationships will shape and drive post-COVID-19 recovery.
One of the key speakers at the event was Jim Winkler, Vice President and Senior Director for Economic Growth at Creative Associates International, a leading international development company that works with underserved communities by sharing expertise and experience and building local capacity.
He said: “We are seeing digital solutions and transformation and awareness among political and business leaders that we can do things now that maybe we didn’t even imagine before. The pandemic has woken us up.”
During the event Winkler explained that traditional global supply chains were highly efficient, but also vulnerable to a shock like COVID-19, leaving producers in Africa with no way to sell their products amid the pandemic.
Winkler said an “unexpected silver lining” of the crisis is an opportunity to rethink those supply chains to make Africa more resilient in the face of future shocks.
He said that investing in processing and manufacturing for example could add value to products and “create value and jobs and more economic dynamism on the continent”.
Winkler spoke on a panel alongside Betty C. Maina, Cabinet Secretary for Kenya’s Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, Gregory Rockson, Co-Founder and CEO of Ghana-based mPharma, and Farid Fezoua, President and CEO of GE Africa.
The panelists highlighted the need for Africa to grow its health sector so that countries can be more self-sufficient in responding to a crisis like COVID-19.
Rockson said: “The key lesson for me in this is that we cannot continue to react only in moments of crisis. What we need to do is take a step back as a continent to really ask ourselves how we begin to build that critical infrastructure that is needed to prevent the next pandemic.”