COVID-19 Must Help Turnaround Africa’s Economy - Business Advisor
African countries should see the coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity to push an Industrialised Africa agenda.
Mr. Kwami Azumah, a Senior Business advisor with the Volta Regional Office of the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), has said that Africa must take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to advance its local industrial capacity.
He said the virus has created a world situation that has threatened international trade, and placed low-income import-dependent economies in limbo, forcing the local production of essentials such as sanitizers.
Mr. Azumah speaking in an interview said the pandemic had uncovered the risks associated with depending so much on imports for countries like Ghana, and that stakeholders must take pragmatic steps to navigate the Nation out of such straits.
“Africa has all the resources and there are businesses that can be exploited. We need a paradigm shift from the past 63 years,” he stated.
The business advisor added that the coronavirus pandemic presented a good opportunity for the government to push its flagship agenda; the One District One Factory initiative. The initiative, he said, must be reviewed to ensure that essential industries were prioritised and developed.
Mr. Azumah also said industrial development in the country would require that the youth were supported to develop entrepreneurial mindsets, and access the needed training and experience to successfully tap into the opportunities that will be created.
“We need to break away from this bogus, fraudulent, and archaic education system we inherited, that has been designed to benefit a few,” he said, adding that “Government-academia-business collaboration” must be fostered.
Mr. Azumah further noted that the role of financial institutions is also very crucial in developing our local industries, therefore, these institutions must be willing to deliver their expected roles in business development in the country.
He also urged stakeholders to enhance information flow among the business community nationwide, adding that the NBSSI had business resource centres across the country, yet many within these entrepreneurial communities are unaware.
Why Ghana and Africa as a whole need to develop its local industries?
A lot of factors go into the performance of currencies on the trade market and this includes the importation and exportation of goods. Africa as a continent imports more than it exports, therefore, trade currencies such as the US dollar causes most African currencies to lose their values. This is because we change lots of African currencies into US dollars or other currencies to import goods and this has a rippling effect on these currencies.
However, if our local industries are developed, the continent will be likely to reduce the importation of goods such as toothpick, rice, paper, among others which can easily be provided by these local industries.
This will not only help African currencies perform well on the trade market but will also bridge the unemployment gap the continent has been facing for years now.
In Ghana, for instance, the president in 2019, during the ‘Year of Return’, encouraged Ghanaians to ‘wear Ghana and eat Ghana’ to help boost local industries and reduce our dependency on importation of goods from especially China. The coronavirus outbreak has, therefore, presented a good opportunity to break the country’s over-dependency on imports.
Also, if more of Africa’s local industries are developed, it will boost the AfCFTA when implemented as we will have adequate industries that will supply goods throughout the continent.