“These are no ordinary times.” Those were the words of President Akufo-Addo when addressing the nation for the very first time on steps being adopted by government to mitigate the harsh effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those words truly encapsulate the general feeling all over the world as this silent, unseen monster of a pandemic rampages all over the world, leaving in its wake a trail of death and grief.
Sadly, COVID-19 is far more than just a global health emergency. It is also a massive global economic challenge. Frankly, only the world wars have wreaked the kind of havoc COVID-19 has caused to the global economic order as we are currently seeing. Many experts predict the situation may actually outweigh the world wars to become probably the singular worst economic disaster of the last several centuries.
Fortunately, we in Africa at large – and for that matter Ghana, have so far been spared the worst the pandemic has to offer as we have witnessed in Asia, Europe and now the United States. Only time will tell if our own situation will gravitate to anywhere near what we’ve seen on other continents. Still, we haven’t escaped the economic paralysis created by the pandemic.
Like many other countries all over the world, government was left with no other choice but to partially lockdown the Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi metropolises as part of larger efforts to curb rapid spread of the virus. These areas are arguably the most populous and also economically concentrated areas in the Ghana, leaving hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians locked in their homes and many companies and small businesses closed. As seen in many other countries, this lack of activity is a major blow to the finances of individuals, businesses and the state as a whole.
Incidentally, government has had to spend heavily in ensuring national healthcare structures are not totally overwhelmed by the situation. Also, as we witnessed in the last presidential address to the country, the government is having to spend significant sums in social intervention schemes and business support programmes to alleviate the dire economic challenges the pandemic is causing. What has become obvious is that government will need all the help it can get from individuals and businesses, especially financially, in order to be able to successfully handle the fall-out from the pandemic.
Since the President launched the Covid-19 National Trust Fund, it has been heartwarming to see many companies and individuals donate generously to it – such that the fund keeps growing significantly by the day. However, as a watcher of Turkish-Ghanaian economic relations, I was especially pleased to see Turkish giant, Aksa Energy, donating generously to the fund as a way of supporting government efforts and show solidarity with Ghana in our quest to fight the pandemic.
Aksa Energy, represented by its West African Coordination Director Mr. Murat Captug and Turkish Ambassador to Ghana Dr. Ozlem Ergun Ulueren, presented a cheque for GH¢2,500,000 in a short ceremony at Flagstaff House under supervision of the Chief of Staff, Madam Akosua Frema Osei-Opare.
Mr. Captug, in his comments at the ceremony, emphasised the commitment of Aksa Energy to Ghana in meeting not only the demand for electricity but also social support programmes. Crucially, he indicated that as good corporate citizens the management of Aksa are well aware of their responsibilities to Ghana, especially in these perilous times. He expressed hope that we will soon defeat COVID-19 so things can go back to normal soon for all Ghanaians.
Dr. Ulueren, on her part, highlighted the economic toll of the pandemic and emphasised the need for solidarity as the only way to combat this global challenge. She also made the point that humanitarian dimensions have always been a strong pillar of Turkish foreign policy as far as the African continent is concerned.
The writer is the CEO of TurkAfriq Consult, a company dedicated to promoting stronger and deeper economic relations between Ghana and Turkey.