The role of human resources in supporting African Business to boast intra -continental trade post COVID-19

Baptista Sarah H. Gebu


At the just ended Egyptian African Businessmen Association (EABA)’s African Women’s Conference organized under the theme: “the role of the African woman in promoting inter-regional trade post covid-19” held virtually on zoom with participants from most African countries and beyond; I made a strong business case for the African continent arguing it is about time African’s tell our own stories the African way. Speaking on the topic the role of human resources in supporting African Businesswomen to boast intra continental trade post covid-19, it is vital to know decisive action from government, policy makers, stakeholders, entrepreneurs and all people of goodwill will support the realization of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and the African Unions agenda 2063. This is because beyond the numbers and negotiations, we need decisive actions and collective efforts of the African people to reach this realization. We have all come to the acceptance that AfCFTA is a legal instrument which seeks to create a single market for Africa. Just as AfCFTA represents much more that trade integration, I believe it also seeks to promote that significant milestone journey to African’s integration and development serving as a catalyst for new ways of doing business, producing, working and trading within Africa and the rest of the world.

To appreciate the role of human resources in supporting African business women to boost continental trade post covid-19, you will agree with me that HR plays a key role in the developing, reinforcing and culture change of an organization. Remuneration (pay), performance management, training and development, recruitment and onboarding become great ways we seek to reinforce those values of the company as essential elements of our business culture. The same way, to project clearly the new African business culture, we should be interested in good performance management indicators, great wealth generation and creation mechanism as means to supporting our own citizens to create and generate wealth from within the African continent where the grass is supposed to be greener always as a result of all the rich natural mineral resources available to the continent. As it stands now, there is a worrying trend where we see owners of wealth and resources including but not limited to gold, diamond, cocoa and several other minerals leaving them to journey to the west to beg for support. Could it be that, we are unaware of our fortune and wealth? To create a positive and sustainable African centered agenda, it must be driven by African people who must be walked along the new African continental business culture discovery agenda I call it to appreciate the mission, vision and value statement of the leadership, in order to support drive that change. For us to attain that integrated, prosperous and peaceful African agenda driven by its own citizens, the African story must be told the African way.

As put forward by Walt Disney, you can design, create and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it takes people to make the dream a reality.There must be a conscious effort to promoting economic growth for the continent. To make this a reality for Africa, we must focus on the complete African-ization of our body, soul and mind. We have to start from the very basic things we do not see to be perhaps relevant. Let’s take a look at our reading and learning materials used in educating our citizens. Who writes that African story for our use? Which personalities, heroes and celebrities do we print on our pupils learning and reading materials (exercise books) for use in our educational system? What efforts are made to document all our inventions and patents as original ideas from the African people for the African continent? We can increase the number of days we appear in our own local African print and attire to work to support create jobs for instance. Economic growth as most economists will explain comes from increasing the quality and quantity of the factors of production which consist of the four broad types such as land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship. Beyond this, the two main sources of economic growth will be assessed from growth in the size of the workforce and growth in the productivity of that workforce where productivity could be a function of output per hour worked for that workforce.

To increase the overall size of the economy, only strong productivity growth can increase ourper capital GDP and income. As a result, we must work to support the transformative African agenda by calling on all and sundry to put hard work above all else as hard work never kills. In as such as a greater percentage of its employees will be pretending to be working most especially within the civil service space and others as governments and other employers also pretend to be paying. At the end of the day, the take home pay earned cannot take most of the workers home. A major cause for corruption and nepotism in our dear African continent.

The complete African-ization of our body, soul and mind should cause us to patronize our own products and services. The quality issues and branding agenda must be supported with policy measures to encourage start-ups and small businesses scalability efforts. We can as well consciously learn success stories from other African countries and apply. We do not always need to reinvent the wheel. Our best bet will be to tailor this success stories to fit our own contextual agenda. This way, we will be supporting solve our unemployment issues. The subject matter on technical vocational education and training is of great importance to this discussion, coupled with the digitization and the awareness creation about the future of work conversation helping us to act local but thinking global will be a great step in the right direction to supporting us attain that new African brand.

Come to think of it, AfCFTA represents a major opportunity for countries to boost growth, reduce poverty and broaden economic inclusion. Implementing AfCFTA would lift 30 million Africans out of extreme poverty and boost the incomes of nearly 68 million others who live on less than $5.50 dollar a day. It will as well boost Africa’s income by $450 billion by 2035 representing a gain of 7% whiles adding $76 billion to the income of the rest of the world. Increasing Africa’s exports by $560 billion, mostly in manufacturing as well as promoting equal work for equal pay shooting lager wage gains for women (10.5%) than for men (9.9%) knowing when women win we all win as a society. AfCFTA implementation should boost wages for both skilled (10.3%) and unskilled workers (9.8%) as put forward by the World Bank.

The implementation should be able to support the African continent see the biggest improvements in countries with currently high poverty rates. A greater implementation of the agreement should see West Africa see the biggest decline from 12 million representing more than a third of the total for all African in the number of people living in extreme poverty. Same way, Central Africa would see a decline of 9.3 million, Eastern Africa for 4.8 million, Southern Africa for 3.9 million and countries with the highest initial poverty rates would see the biggest declines in poverty rates. Particularly for Guinea-Bissau, the rate would decline from 37.9% to 27.7%. Same for Mail, we will see a decline from 14.4% to 6.8% and for Togo we will see a decline from 24.1% to 16.9%.

It is great to realize also that, most employees may be jobless as a result of the covid-19 pandemic and its related job loss issues; but are not really worthless and must be treated with some respect and dignity. For fewer sectors facing job losses, government will need to be ready to support workers with adequate safety nets and policies to retain workers, and increase the readiness of the workforce to take advantage of new opportunities. The digital agenda must be high on our drawing board as more jobs move online currently. We must as a people focus on the digital transformation strategies to creating jobs and contribute to achieving the set agenda 2063. We must remove barriers to innovation that prevents smaller firms from competing in the digital age.

Women and youth account for majority of the population as such concrete policy measure and investments are needed for them. Africa’s recovery from covid-19 must enhance Africa’s resilience. As a block, trade of all types of goods and services will support achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and the agenda 2063 of the African Union. As we anticipate trading under AfCFTA, the effective implementation of all the known factors will include support for women and the youth for us to succeed. The smartest thing to do is to invest in women and girls because when women success we all succeed. To reduce poverty in sub Saharan African for instance, aside all known factors women must be allowed to become key decision-makers. This is because a world where we invest in girls and women looks prosperous, more economically stable and full of healthy mothers and newborns. This is the new Africa we want. Let’s support create that ideal Africa together. Join me pledge to telling the African story the African way.

Baptista is a human resource professional with a broad generalist background. Building a team of efficient & effective workforce is her business. Affecting lives is her calling!  She is a Hybrid Professional, 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 our social media pages Facebook / LinkedIn/ Twitter / Instagram: FoReal HR Services.  I am on Instagram – Sarahtistagh |Twitter – Sarahtista  Call or WhatsApp: +233(0)262213313.  Follow the hashtag #theFutureofWorkCapsules #FoWC

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