As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to plague the world including Africa, global economic recession is imminent but those interested in survival after the pandemic must look at all ways humanly possible to mitigate the scourge. The pandemic has been met with drastic measures focused on reducing the number of imported cases and suppressing local transmission. These have included suspension of Land, air and water transport as well as declaring lockdowns as seen in many African states. These measures have had both positive and negative impacts on the global economy including disruptions in the supply chain on the African economy.
Assessing the connection between the role played by African Unity and the private sector in supporting efforts to tackle this pandemic is very important since this is a case of duo diagnosis. In his article titled ‘Non-State Political Theoretical Paradigm of African Union Citizenship’, Dr.Odomaro Mubangizi asserts that the African Union cannot successfully implement the institution of an AU citizenship without acknowledging the role of and giving space to non-state actors in AU and regional integration models. This implies re-thinking the relationship between the State and non-state actors in Africa like the Private sector, Civil Society and Religious institutions.
Why the question of African Unity now? Well, looking at Africa’s healthcare system that is still ailing with acute shortage of functional ICU beds, limited protective gear for healthcare workers and other supplies like ambulances, one can safely assert that no African country is ready to face the reality of COVID-19 alone. Many public health experts have argued though that Africa is better prepared more than ever to tackle the covid-19 pandemic given that screening services had already been made available due to previous threats of Ebola outbreak. But what about the Economic impact? Can the African economy recover after the pandemic? What has the private sector got to do with this?
These questions may seem a synopsis but they are core in Africa’s quest for eventual unity and long term survival after the pandemic. Africa, even at a very important economic level has been subjected to foreign designed policy prescriptions such as SAP by the IMF. This can largely be attributed to the fact that Africa is still a league of disunited nations fragmented along racial fabric such as Franco-phone Africa, Anglo-phone and the Arab Maghreb. As a result, Africa is still faced with small domestic markets characterised by lower per capita income. It is no surprise therefore that many African states continue to rely on their former colonial masters for budget supplementaries. With coronavirus still ravaging the global economy, it is very crucial for Africa to come to terms with the fact that donor funding will reduce after the pandemic since the west has been hit hard and will certainly be struggling to revamp their own economies in the aftermath of COVID-19. This means that Africa will hustle on its own and this is why African unity is a logical option .
There is no sustainable African survival and development without a United Africa
Africa needs a coordinated response for substantial progress to be achieved in the fight against this pandemic that is to say, this is the time for Africa to unite and collectively bear the severe economic and health consequences of COVID-19. Unity can serve significant strides in easing procurement and supply of medical equipment let alone other essential goods and services like food, physical location mapping of cases and coordination of humanitarian outreach. Africa also needs to cooperate in the areas of capacity building, trade and investment, industrialization, information and Technology among others. In the context of globalization for example, the current ICT innovations and social media can be presented as opportunities for intensifying African integration, demonstrating that ICT is bringing humanity back to its cradle Africa.
The International Finance Corporation has also found out that the private sector already delivers about half of Africa’s health products and services. Non-State actors like Civil Society Organizations, religious movements also provide healthcare services within humanitarian situations in which African states are incapable or unwilling to provide these services. It’s therefore important to note that the private sector is also a principal job creator and delivers critical goods and services to the poor in Africa. It contributes to tax revenue, efficient flow of capital and provides about 90% of all employment and this is why governments need to consider the private sector and other Non-State actors as key stakeholders in development.
Another point of great significance is that despite Africa’s increasing role
in providing inputs for the global industry, influential actors like the USA, China, Japan and others still treat Africa as if it were a one country . In this context, a full fledged African unity will enable Africa to think of designing an industrial framework that will help actualise the transformation of African economies. This will support domestic efforts to boost local investment and enterprise development which will go a long way in facilitating economic recovery. It will broaden the market for Africa states providing access to a market of about 3.4billion people, promote community citizenship, create employment opportunities and allow transfer of skills and knowledge. This will promote a people driven development and will in questionably facilitate economic recovery.
Student of Quantitative Economics
Volunteer at Project Act Africa