Outbreak of novel coronavirus virus affecting economic activity

China has recorded nearly 80,000 cases of the since the coronavirus virus outbreak began. It has since spread to more than 50 countries, and Senegal and Morocco are the latest African countries to suffer an outbreak.

Earlier, both Egypt and Nigeria recorded cases of the viral outbreak but further tests proved to be negative; thereby easing the fears and anxiety of Africans in view of our obviously weak health systems.

The fears are real since deaths in 10 other countries have also been recorded, including more than 50 in Iran and over 30 in Italy. The world is now facing a huge challenge to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while enabling the global economy to continue functioning.

For many economic watchers, the fear is that the new Covid-19 virus could make the world economy shrink this quarter, and there is very little that can be done about it until a vaccine is developed fast enough to curtail its rapid spread.

The evolution of the disease and its economic impact is highly uncertain, which makes it difficult for policymakers to formulate an appropriate macroeconomic policy response. In China where it erupted, consumption has been cut drastically as people mostly stay indoors. Service industries such as tourism and restaurants are being hit especially hard, too.

A worldwide recession is not yet on the cards; but at a minimum the added uncertainty will restrain investment and productivity, which already looked anaemic in all major economies.

While much of the world’s attention is rightly focused on the human toll of COVID-19 – including the 1,873 deaths reported as of 18 February – the economic toll of the outbreak also has potentially disastrous implications.

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Since the coronavirus broke out last month, the majority of Ghanaian businessmen and women who go to China to bring in goods have failed to do so. According to the Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA), the outbreak has compelled many of its traders to opt for other routes of import, like Dubai.

This undoubtedly will have an effect on the local economy, since Ghanaian traders favour importing from China because it is viewed as a manufacturing hub. Spare-parts dealers at Abossey Okai have expressed fears they will run out of stock if spread of the novel Coronavirus continues.

Things like drugs, spare-parts, clothes, and even herbal medicines come from China; that is why traders are on tenterhooks.

Transnational crimes could undermine genuine efforts at economic integration

President Akufo-Addo has observed that human trafficking and smuggling of goods across borders in West Africa are providing funding for negative forces engaged in terrorism and destabilisation in the sub-region.

According to the president, left without challenge these activities hurt the ability to conduct legal trade in markets abroad as well as affecting the free travel of Ghanaians.

Years after the indignity of slavery has been abolished, it is sadly making a come-back through the phenomenon of human trafficking.

These sentiments were expressed at the second Annual Attorney-General Alliance meeting in Accra with the theme ‘Tackling the Reality of Transnational Crimes in Africa’. Owing to the harsh economic realities facing most African countries, the youth are employing all manner of strategies to cross into Europe seeking greener pastures – often leading them to Libya, which they believe is a springboard to their dreams.

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Sadly, because of the unstable political circumstances prevailing there, these youths are susceptible to criminal gangs who blackmail and traffic them for a fee – and the whole spiral of modern-day slavery is born.

Our young ladies seeking better conditions abroad are also trafficked to the Gulf States where they are often abused in a life of servitude, while their sponsors get fat of their plight – and the list continues. This form of 21st century slavery is the reality for many unfortunate and desperate African youths who trying to escape hopelessness and poverty, only to be trapped in a more vulgar/brutal form of abuse.

These transnational crimes undermine efforts at promoting greater interaction between Africans, even as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) kicks-off in earnest in July. While we recognise that no single country can address this challenge of trans-national crimes, joint responses and fostering relationships is the way to go.

It is therefore in this regard that this Paper views such collaborative efforts at combatting these criminal activities as a step in the right direction, so that activities like human trafficking, wildlife trafficking, counterfeit and gender-based violence is rooted out of our jurisdictions.

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