The Future of Work Capsules: Revitalizing partnerships to promote post-pandemic recovery

Season’s Greetings to you all
Baptista Sarah Gebu (Mrs.)

Baptista is a Hybrid Professional. As a human resource professional, she holds a broad generalist background. Building a team of efficient & effective workforce is her business. Affecting lives is her calling!  She is an HR Generalist, strategic planner, innovative, professional connector and a motivator. You can reach her via e-mail on [email protected]  You can follow this conversation on Linked-In: Baptista Sarah Gebu and on twitter @SarahTista.  Call or WhatsApp: +233(0)262213313/ 0243213313.  Follow the hashtag #theFutureofWorkCapsules #FoWC

Happy New Month everyone! May this joyful season fill our heart with renewed hope, love, and peace. We often than not consider Easter as the time to remember the sacrifice made by Lord Christ and his unconditional love for mankind. Let us follow the right path shown by the Son of God and God himself this festive period and always by doing away with sin – (every wrong doing) and loving what God loves, hating what He hates. Remember you can only share what you have. Get oil for your lamps. Happy Easter!.

How can we revitalize partnerships to promote post-pandemic recovery? As a continent and a nation we cannot do it all by ourselves. We need to focus on building the capacity of the citizenry at all levels, design and work towards owning reliable data on all aspects of our economic  and its indicators for easy measurement, promote trade among ourselves more removing all the known barriers affecting the smooth flow of trade, develop to bridge our technological gaps and finance. This will require strong leadership, foresight, innovative financing and trade facilitation instruments, the leveraging of emerging technologies and close collaboration among all governments and key stakeholders.

The global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a very severe effect on African economies, many of which have contracted at a faster rate than at any time since the Great Depression.

Resilient and comprehensive partnerships at the global, regional, national and local levels are now required to guarantee countries swift recovery from the pandemic, sustain growth, build back better and fast-track development towards the attainment of all Sustainable Development Goals. The United Nations Economic and Social Council’s hybrid 7th session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development held from Congo Brazzaville from March 1-4, 2021 and convened under the theme “Building forward better: Towards a resilient and green Africa to achieve the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063” provided some perspective to revitalizing partnerships to promote post-pandemic recovery.

“The Sustainable Development Goal financing remains a substantial challenge in Africa. Indeed, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa faced daunting economic challenges and many Africa countries were already struggling to deal with high debt-to-GDP ratios and fiscal deficits, high borrowing costs and the depreciation of their currencies. The COVID-19 pandemic and policy responses to contain the virus, including social distancing measures, lockdowns and border closures, are likely to further exacerbate those challenges”.

COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the pressing need for countries to focus more on elevating science, technology and innovation (STI) in both policy and practical terms. We need to focus on increased digitalization & biotechnology as South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Morocco are emerging as technology hubs for the continents. Increase investment in research and development, support for national sectorial and regional innovation systems, and investment in human capital is very much needed.

There are some key progress and trends we need to be aware of.

On technology, its great knowing that technology has been the foundation that has kept the world economy moving and saved countless lives in what has been a very difficult year. As has been the case in other parts of the world, millions of workers and students in Africa have used digital technologies to perform their work and study remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology has also been at the heart of efforts to combat the virus: libraries and schools with three dimensional printers have become factory floors for the production of personal protection equipment (PPE) and medical devices, while advances in biotechnology have significantly reduced the time needed to develop and manufacture vaccines that can be used to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus to less than a year. Before the development of applications like DocuSign technology, all documents were circulated via hardcopy for endorsement and signatures. Within a minute now, this and many other applications are making work fun and easy. I sign all documents virtually getting a copy delivered to my inbox for reference with the use of DocuSign application. Same way, technology can support as a great enabler. The researches point to that reality. Let’s take advantage of technology to enhance development and progress. Building strong systems and structures will be needed a s lack of which can cause serious security issues as well.

On trade, the promotion of international & intra-African trade is very important. This is because the advancement will promote an engine for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction. Ghana now plays host to the African continental Free Trade Agreement Secretariat (AfCFTA) which is seen as a key milestone supporting the attainment of the SDG and Agenda 2063 goals.  The formation of the African Continental Free Trade Area is also anticipated to offer dynamic opportunities for service provision across African borders, as the Agreement prohibits discrimination against African services and service suppliers, specifically in five priority sectors, namely business, communications, finance, tourism and transport. The free of movement of persons within Africa, as enshrined in Agenda 2063 and the Protocol to the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment will also support industrialization on the continent, promote sustainable development and foster prosperity.

When tariffs are reduced, we can be sure that this will boost trade among African countries. It is estimated that, the reduction of tariffs can boast between 15% and 25 % of trade amounting in fiscal terms to (between $50 billion and $70 billion) by 2040. Further to tariff reduction, the development of regional value chain and manufacturing industries will support the call to retavilizing partnerships to promote post pandemic recovery. As a continent, we need to pay particular attention also to E-commerce as COVID-19 crisis has also highlighted significant fail in the provision of health and education services.

On financing, it’s worth noting that, prior to the covid-19 pandemic – the average gross domestic product (GDP) growth in Africa between 2017 and 2019 was a modest 3.2%. Net foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to Africa during that period declined, African countries’ revenue to GDP ratios worsened and illegal financial flows rather increased according to ECA, Macroeconomic impact of COVID-19 on Africa document: Evidence from Africa-wide aggregate macro-econometric model (Addis Ababa, 2020). On the positive side, low global interest rates, precipitated by quantitative easing measures, were strengthening African countries’ access to capital markets, particularly as investors were increasingly attracted to the relatively high yields on African sovereign bonds.  The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a severe economic slowdown across the continent, rising unemployment and falling incomes. ECA estimates that African GDP will register a decline of between 1.8 and 5.4 per cent in 2020, primarily as a result of slowing economic activity, weakened trade, disruptions in supply chains, a decline in overall demand, a slump in commodity prices, and a dip in development financing.  The Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD), “Phase II: COVID19 Crisis Through a Migration Lens”, Migration and Development  Brief has it that, ‘Since our African countries rely heavily on external financing sources, including FDI, remittances from abroad and official development assistance, all of which severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and States’ responses to contain the virus. Remittances from outside the continent are the most significant form of external financial support to Africa. Those remittances reached some $85.8 billion in 2019 but are expected to decline to some $78.4 billion in 2020, equivalent to a reduction of 9%. That hasty drop is expected to occur as a result of reduced economic activity in advanced economies, and falling incomes and rising unemployment among diaspora Africans”.

On reliable data collection initiatives it is worth noting the global pandemic has had a serious negative impact on data collection initiatives on the continent and exposed flaws in many statistical and traditional data collection systems. Governments have executed various strategies to contain the pandemic, which have, in many cases, significantly affected the timely collection of the data required to inform decision-making.

The COVID-19 has highlighted the urgent need of reliable, quality, independent and up – to-date data. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic; many African States were increasing their investments in statistical capacity-building. This must continue and be seen as a major priority. This is because; making an informed decision on most economic challenges must be based on data. Lack of which, will equate hasty generalization on issues and the use of political jargons which cannot be authenticated. For most African countries, progress must be measure by available date and  not be measured by use of political jargons in statement such as – a gargantuan economic growth coupled with significant progress in the pipeline having no timeline for measurement and clear meaning to statement for instance. Progress and growth should be measured in percentages and by indicators. Join the call to demand up- to date data for the continent. And here is the big deal, 52 indicators of the SDG’s for Africa has no data available. For Africa we have between 103 and 177 of the SDG’s indicators. Resources should be redirected to address emerging COVID-19-related priorities and plan for Human and Institutional capacity-building and modernization of national statistical system. This is because they lack coordination and funding.

Look no further for support in navigating your way through in management, policy design and assessment of soft skills as a vital trend for the future. FoReal HR Services is available to offer professional business support in this regards. Write to us today [email protected] Call or WhatsApp: +233(0)262213313. We are available virtually as well.

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