Post COVID 19:Buhari And UBA Africa roadmap To Economic Recovery

By Stephen Ubanna

With barely  six weeks of the lock down  of the African economes, as  a result of the Wuhan Town in Hebei Province of the Asian country of  China emerged  coronaviru pandemic, popular , COVID 19,President Muhammadu Buhari and United Bank  For African, UBA, plc,  African Conversations Day, appear to have set a roadmap for the African countries speedy  economic recovery.

The Katsina state born Nigerian President  had said that ‘’ peace, security and  harmony  are  the prerequisites for the  African countries hit by the COVID 19 pandemics economic recovery  and development. Aware of the activities of the  terrorists and bandits in the African Continent which had  f slowed down the economic recovery rate of the Continent before the out break of the COVID 19, in the Continent, he had urged the African political leaders, policy makers and the citizenry   to innovate ways  on ‘’how silencing  of the humming  guns could be used  to achieve peace  and grow the African  countries economies’’.

 The Nigerian President  was said to have sent the message  to African political  leaders  to mark the ‘’Africa Day 2020’’ Forum   Commemorated by African Union Commission, an agency of the African Union, AU,  in Collaboration  with the World Health Organisation , WHO, a health agency of the  United Nations, UN.

PresidentMuhammadu Buhari

Given his experience over what is happening  in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe  as well as the north wesern states of Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara which had distabilised economies of these states  and how he had mobilised the Army, Ai rForce and other security agencies with the support of the civilians to deal decisively with the terrorists and the bandits operating in the two regions in order  to silence their guns.  He had urged the African leaders to do  everything  within  their power to ensure success of silencing   the terrorists and  bandits gun on the Continent.

Appealing to the African leaders to sensitise  the  people about the inseparable connection between peace and  development,  he disclosed that’’ it is the only way to facilitate the speedy  growth of the African economies from the adverse effects of the COVID 19’’.

Notwithstanding, his call on the political  leaders to sensitise their citizenry on the dangers of the use of guns to settle perceived  political  and economic grievance s on the African  eContinent ,he  was said to have also  urged  regional economic  blocs, within the Continent, particular, Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Economic of  Community of Central  African States, ECCAS. the East Africa Economic Community, EAEC,  and  the private sector  to strengthen their Collaboration  efforts in order to silence the humming guns.

Recall that while the National Bureau of Statistics  had released  the first quarter 2020  Gross Domestic Product , GDP, report, of the economy , which look cheery  as it had revealed that the economy grew by  1.87 percent, the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association, NECA,  said there is nothing  good  about the report.

 NECA noted the real impact of the pandemic on the country’s economy would be felt on the second quarter of the  2020   due to the six weeks lock down  in Lagos, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Ogun  and other parts of the country.

The Association had  predicted  a contraction  in the economy  due to the Commencement of the lock down  in April, as many manufacturing  Companies, particular, the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, SMEs, were forced to shut down due to unavailability of raw materials and Chemicals t that could  boost their production  .

The Association  disclosed that the slowdown that would be noticed  in the GDP rate in  the second  quarter of the    year  could also  be traced  to the disruptions   on the non oil  exports , coupled  with  an escalating war of words  between the two  giant economies in the world: the United States, US and China which was said to have resulted in low global oil demand and the drop in oil prices in the International market.

The  managers  of the country’s economy  may have read the handwriting on the wall  that  they quickly advised the government on what to do to be able to finance the 2020  fiscal budget. The fallout was that the government had approached the International Monetary Fund, IMF, a multi-lateral Financial Institution for  a  $3.4 billion  facility . The  multi-lateral financial Institution did not hesitate in approving the loan last April under the  Rapid Financing Instrument to support  the government’s  efforts  in addressing the severe economic impact   of the COVID 19 shock and the sharp drop in oil prices.

The  multi-lateral Financial Institution  had  said   that the outbreak of the pandemic  had magnified  the existing vulnerabilities, that had resulted in the Contraction many countries GDP  rates and to large  external  and fiscal financing needs. This may have informed why NECA  said  that the impact of the COVID 19  on the nation’s GDP , could  only be  felt on the 2020 second quarter. This is evident going by the rising prices of goods and services as too much money are now  chasing few manufactured and agricultural goods.

Tony Elumelu: Chairman, UBA plc/Founder TEF

In a related development, the UBA, Africa Conversations Day, after a one day  talk shop where two African Presidents: Macky Sall, Senegal and Gerge Opong Weah,of Liberia and who incidentally was a former  football star  in the country, and other dignitaries both within and outside Africa had participated.

The participants at the one day Forum  were  said to have  taken  far reaching decisions on how to turn the Africa economy around from the adverse effects of the COVID 19. They were said to have canvassed a meaningful Collaborations between  governments and the private sector , describing as a ‘’panacea  for the quick recovery of the Continental economy in post COVID 19 era.

 Tony Elumelu, Group Chairman , UBA PLC, and founder Tony Elumelu Foundation , a Philanthropic Organisation, who  had moderated  the  Forum  could not hide his feelings  as  he spoke on the need to mobilise everyone  and the necessity to discover Africa challenge through Collaborative efforts. The pan African bank Group Chairman, noted that there is need for governments and Organisations  to join resources to fight the pandemic  in order to Collectively  deal with the Africa economic challenge.

He  pointed out  the need for ‘’all hands to be deck  if the African Continent is to have a cure for its  sick economy  and the need for global Cooperation to stem the  depression.  The UBA Group Chairman noted that what  African countries hit most  by the COVID 19  requires for now is a large stimulus package and long term solutions to prevent a cycle of both local and foreign debts.

Weah, the Liberian President may have taken advantage of the Forum to give an insight on how the Collaborations  canvassed by  the TEF , Founder had worked in his government  in an attempt  to tem the sufferings brought about by the coronavirus pandemics. ‘’In Liberia we have taken measures to ease the Financial  burden  of the vulnerable businesses in the informal sector by providing small  loan assistance to SMEs and traders. The Liberian President disclosed that his government is working  with  the Commercial banks  to manage the repayment of the loans as well as create stimulus packages for the  citizens to cushion the effect of the pandemic on the vulnerable Liberians and the poor.

 Taking a look on how the North American country of the US, had addressed the health crisis in the  last three months, Chris Coons, a US , Senator, opined that  to draw a roadmap for Africa economic  recovery from the pandemic, ‘’it is important to take a look  at how  the African political leaders and policy makers  had reacted to the pandemic.

 Coons, a member of the US, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, noted that before African countries could talk about meaningful development in Post COVID 19 era, ‘’ the Pharmaceutical Companies, researchers and scientists, with the Financial support of the World Health Organisation, WHO, a  health agency of the United Nations, UN, must develop  the vaccine for the cure of the disease that is affordable which must be  freely  distributed  so that full economic activities could  return to Africa .

According to him, the pandemic if properly managed  would  provide ample opportunity  for  Africa countries  to be dependent and promote its growth and development as a  people without external help. Okey Oramah, President, Africa Export-Import bank, Afrexim, may have painted a gory image of COVID 19 on Africa, when he said that it had taught  Africa that’’ there comes a time when  every group of people  will fend for themselves without looking for external help’’.

It was  not surprising why he has called for the speedy implementation of the  Africa Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, agreement , stressing that the priority of the Various African countries government  should be to make sure that  the AfCTA  is implemented without further delay.

 He may have gladdened the heart of African political leaders when he said that Afrexim  bank has made available $200 million to supply fertilizers, grains and other agricultural inputs across Africa. George Chikoti of African, Caribbean and Pacific, ACP, group,  believes that the  huge task of implementing the economic recovery roadmap of  the African countries  rests on both the government  and the private sector, in playing a big role in lifting  the burden of the pandemic, confirming what Buhari , had earlier said .

He disclosed that ACP had been able to release $25 million to member states since the outbreak of the disease to support their economic activities, particular, agriculture.  Achim  Steiner of  United Nations Development Project, UNDP, explained that the interconnectivity  of the global economy  had provided an opportunity  to connect all schools  across the African  Continent, stating that the emphasis should be on health education. He noted that Digital connectivity  is very crucial to connect all the schools to the internet

Peter Maurer, President, Internationals Red cross Society, IRCS, was said to have told the African  political leaders and policy makers at the UBA Forum that ‘’there is need to look at the pandemics as part of a broader system which needs stabilisation of vulnerable populations in Africa who had been heavily affected by the disease. ‘’We must do more than life saving’’, he said. He contended that the virus had exposed the weakness in the African countries health sector , water sanitation  and social systems, insisting  that the government must  invest heavily  in the stabilisation of these  systems.

Amir Yahmed, President , Africa Chief Executive Officers,ACEO, Forum, has assured African political leaders and policy makers that the  global health crisis is ‘’going  to be a super accelerator of already existing trends in African economy. He stressed the need for African countries to get  away  from the  Commodity model driven economy  which  has failed in creating prosperity. He disclosed that  the way out for African countries wrecked economy  as result of the COVID 19, is to become self  reliance, adding that  ’’ the pandemics in a wake- up  call  for Africa-creating  new streams of revenue sources by diversying the economy’’.

Addressing the participants at the UBA forum, he said  the  African political leaders need to take advantage of the health crisis to take the Continent to the next level by investing in digital infrastructure, digital education and infrastructure. A participant  at the  event who spke to The Value News disclosed that he had  capped his speech by stating  that that African leaders  must get AfCTA , working.  

 Donald  Kabe ruka, another discussant at the Forum had  said  that  what the African political leaders needed now in tackling  the Coronavirus  pandemics ‘’ is something unusual,  not marginal action but a radical action’’ .  This is where Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and Chairman , AU, may have to stamp is foot down to  facilitate the implementation of AfCTA.           

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