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Africa combats coronavirus with insightful courage

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Added 5th June 2020 11:38 AM

Africa combats coronavirus with insightful courage

Isaac Sebakijje MIH

By Isaac Sebakijje MIH

Progress against all odds

For decades, Africa has had the resilience to overcome epidemics, massive setbacks, incredible injustice, apartheid, and profound tragedies, and now comes the devastating coronavirus. The continent will overcome this pandemic as well despite the constant breaking news that predicts the opposite.

It is true that COVID-19 presents an extremely challenging time for the continent's emerging economy and weak health sector.  The region is making tough macroeconomic adjustments that strike a balance between preservation of life and economic development.

It is too early to predict whether the continent, which has the world's youngest population, may be spared widespread severe cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic mainly, affects older people with pre-existing health conditions.

Obesity levels in Africa are also lower than in countries most affected by this disease. Although Africa remains a region least affected, the disease is evolving and growing.  

The prolonged lockdowns in Africa have the potential to increase hunger, disease, starvation and create a violent social crisis leading to economic collapse.  Instead, countries are now turning to combating misinformation and false cure claims, public sensitization, hygiene, social distancing, and treatment.

COVI-19 is a reality check for Africa's leaders to develop an economic template that promotes less dependency on the rest of the world. The greatest threat to Africa is not posed by the pandemic itself but rather abdicating the responsibility for development and care for the masses.

The continent has the opportunity to change, not only to fight this pandemic but also to put the continent on a sustainable development path for generations to come. With a clear vision and political will, capacity building in Africa for world-class economic and social sectors is attainable given the continent's abundant resources.  Autonomy and self-reliance must not be empty slogans this time around.

Africa is home to the world's youngest populations, progressive women and the diaspora armed with a great burst of determination with a new entrepreneurial culture that can build impactful governments, thriving nations, and a prosperous continent.

They are capable of dismantling defunct systems and introduce innovative solutions needed across a wide range of economic sectors. It is reported that 80% of digital platforms in Africa are homegrown by young people. Since the digital revolution has already taken hold, it means that scientific know-how is not a monopoly of any one country or region. Therefore, Africa does not need the trickle-down technology from developed nations but rather create what is relevant and serves the continent best.

Although a "Marshall Plan" to help Africa is still needed to alleviate the burden of indebtedness, there are visible signs that Africans are doing a lot to help themselves during this pandemic.

The continent's tech experts are inventing quick and affordable solutions including traditional herbal remedies to curb the spread of the virus.  Officials are rejecting those who seek to use Africa as a dumping ground for suspicious and untested vaccines and medicines. 

While mainstream media hardly mentions it, an array of world-class African scientists, doctors, and engineers, including those in the diaspora, are working side by side with global researchers to find a vaccine and cure for COVID-19. Many Africans in and around the world are gaining competence in virology and genomics.

Despite global media silence and predictions of doomsday, there are increasing victories which Africa has made in handling past epidemics and this pandemic. African governments are increasingly turning to their scientists and scientific institutions to provide much-needed insights.

The reality is that Africa stands ready to partner with the rest of the world to find solutions for humanity through the firm and informed global leadership that is mindful of our collective understanding. COVI-19 is a global emergency that requires global collaboration instead of partisan contests, appeals of nationalism, and closed borders. More than ever before, Africa understands that.

The writer is an African in the diaspora, hospitality professional and, a former secretary of the African Growth & Opportunity Act-Southern California Coalition. He is currently an African Business Development Director with Global Green Development Group based in Los Angeles, USA.

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