In the last few months, the least anticipated visitor has left the whole world stunned as it has left us to come into full scope, understanding and propensity of its intents and duration of stay amongst us.
Quite often than not, the negative effects of the pandemic have been trumpeted with plummeting of economies, loss of lives, overburdened and failing healthcare system and closure of schools. While an appreciable number of countries are coming out of the shock and learning to live with the virus within the confines and dictates of social distancing and extreme caution, for some, conversations is more directed to how they can curtail its ravaging impact on their economy.
African countries were predicted to be the worst affected due to its structural weaknesses, but considering current happenings, they are doing relatively well in containment of the virus against popular opinion and like all other pandemics before it, it will run its course and come to an end.
Subtle as it may seem and quite effectively, the virus has given most countries particularly African countries the opportunity to prove their strength and capacity for control in times like this. As the world runs for cover, the question on most minds is, will the world remain the same after the exit of this virus and under what construct will ‘normal life’ be defined, will it be business as usual or the remnants of the experience will help shape the cultural, social, intellectual and economic inclinations by altering fundamentally how we organize our society and by extent our relationship with the natural world.
Candidly, the COVID-19 threat has exposed the vulnerability of African countries like nothing else could have and Africa has had some major learning and consequent practice and application of what it means to be self-reliant. Just like Qatar, adversity crushed out the juices of internal ingenuities which enlisted them as one of the fastest growing economies. Although countries such as India have gone ahead to accept the independence ideology being subtly and yet sinisterly propagated by the virus, their Prime Minister, Modi, declared that the biggest lesson which the COVID-19 pandemic had taught the country was the need for self-reliance. He intimated that without it, it would be difficult to face problems posed by the virus.
The trend and move towards an insular economy has been in existence for some time now and the Prime minister’s statements only buttressed it. The pandemic has put such a high premium on self-reliance due to its global takeover with nations scramming for survival, and it has become more imperative for countries such as India and Africa to buckle up and tap into its internal reserve of human resources as global supply chains are being interrupted. For India, the main driver of its growth and economy will have to come from its domestic economy as it has displayed its capacity for innovation.
Despite undeniable weaknesses in many sectors of African countries, there are also veritable proofs of infrastructure, resilience, robustness, creativity and local innovations, which have been brought to bear in recent times.
Ghana gradually is weaning itself of western intervention and that certainly brings a ray of hope to the continent. After the Jack Ma foundation’s donations of personal protective gears for frontline workers, the government had an introspective discussion on what happens next when the stash gets depleted, and also to the burgeoning population- their safety. Economic reforms and a return to the tapping of local manufacturing and innovation was the agreed answer to the question of mass usage and replenishing of these PPE’s.
Consequently, on April 10, 2020 the government outsourced the production of personal protective gear for frontline health workers and the general populace to local manufacturing factory, some of which have had to repurpose their ideals to fit into the current demand.
In recent times Ghana has seen the springing of distinct innovations such as solar powered hand washing contraptions, locally made face mask and hand sanitizers, which when absolutely harnessed could have a positive ripple effect on the economy.
The president in his periodic update on the virus and measures in mitigating its effect also iterated the need for increased production and manufacturing across the country to satisfy its own needs, for instance the pharmaceutical industry. One of the reasons the rate of infection is relatively constrained in the country is due to the government ability to work with available resources which when fully experimented and actualized will bolster the economy post-COVID.
Essentially, the extent to which western countries have insulated themselves and internally prioritized their needs should be a total wakeup call to African countries and other developing nations as global commonality cannot be banked on it times like this. Considering how poor countries fell off the wagon in the scramble for products needed to fight the virus, the need for self-reliance has been more heightened than ever before.