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COVID-19 presents opportunity to remodel Africa, says Tagwirei

by Staff reporter
24 Apr 2020 at 08:27hrs | Views
BUSINESS tycoon Kudakwashe Tagwirei yesterday said Africa should take advantage of the global COVID-19 crisis to reshape the region's narrative and redefine its growth trajectory by boosting productivity and shift from commodity-based growth.

He was speaking during a World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa Regional Group's inaugural virtual meeting on the Zoom platform aimed at strategising on the continent's economic response to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

The meeting was held amid calls by Heads of State, Government, bureaucrats and eminent business leaders who form the regional grouping to urgently find ways of responding to the disaster.

This follows stern warnings by the World Health Organisation that the continent could be the next COVID-19 epicentre and with weak health systems, the pandemic would wreak havoc in Africa.

"We need to ask ourselves how the Regional African Group can contribute to modelling scenarios restoring long-term growth," Tagwirei, who is WEF Regional Action Group committee member, said.

"How can the group develop emerging opportunities such as the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement in terms of transfiguring supply chains, reducing dependence, expediting the establishment of regional value chains and boosting intra-Africa trade?"

He added: "In the long term, COVID-19 presents the greatest opportunities to completely redefine Africa's growth trajectory by boosting productivity and shifting from commodity-based growth.

"There is an opportunity to revamp and relocate the manufacturing sector because of the global disruptions in supply chains.

"Africa multi-stakeholder efforts to influence long-term structural elements of the economy need to consider employment, development of import substitution, climate risks, just transition social aspects and the overall structure of the desired economic structure post-COVID-19."

Tagwirei early this month courted controversy after his company, Sakunda Holdings, refurbished two private hospitals in Harare — St Annes and Rock Foundation Medical Centre (Arundel Medical Clinic) — as allegations flared that they were being spruced up to exclusively cater for the rich and the powerful.

The meeting mainly focused on how African States should come up with strategies to jump-start their economies amid projections of a debilitating global economic recession.
It was co-chaired by Anglogold Ashanti chairman Sipho Pityana and Richard Von Weisacker of the Robert Bosch Academy and was presided over by Botswana President Mogkweetsi Masisi.

Equatorial Guinea Finance, Economy and Planning minister Cesar Augusto Mba Abogo, Ghana' Information minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah and Guinean Investments and Public, Private Partnerships minister Gabriel Curtis were some of the ministers who attended the crunch meeting.

The WEF was represented by its president Borge Brende and Sunil Kaushal, regional chief executive for the Africa and the Middle East.

In his opening remarks, Masisi said in light of the global pandemic, it will be important to protect global co-ordinating institutions.

"There is need to help policymakers to post COVID-19 economic agendas and develop solutions to mitigate the rising special tensions arising from lockdowns," Masisi said.

"As a result, key discussion points should include a framework to restart the economy with a focus on where we can safely open up economic activity prioritising every sector."

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Vera Songwe, also urged African countries to start thinking of rebuilding their economies in the aftermath of the contagion.

Source - newsday