Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the world is beginning to discover that life can be lived differently.
Ugandan bureaucrats and legislators often travelled abroad on benchmarking missions in response to national problems. Flying business class with hefty allowances they claimed it was for the good of the country or more appealing but a burden on the taxpayer. But they have not responded to the coronavirus with benchmarking or fact-finding trips. No bureaucrat or MP has proposed one.
Instead, Parliament's committee on health is doing the right thing checking health facilities' preparedness to handle COVID-19 cases. Not only has the coronavirus wiped out the appetite to travel abroad due to the risk of catching it but also crippled movements thanks to a lockdown aimed at containing the virus. It is the dawn of a new normal.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the world is beginning to discover that life can be lived differently, for instance, businesses can be conducted without having to travel. Technology is presenting what is to become normal after the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, G-20 countries didn't have to travel to Saudi Arabia, which holds the rotating presidency; their summit was conducted online via video conferencing. Presidents of the East Africa Community countries are also expected to use the same technology.
In future, travel for meetings will become an option as video conferencing is cheaper and convenient. Its use is likely to grow so is working from home using similar technology.
The lockdown across the world has disrupted ways of life that had become normal and created what is being referred to as the new normal. Already some parts of the world contemplating opening up are beginning to talk about the new normal, which will include less travelling. This will severely affect the travel and tourism business, which includes airlines and hotels.
The new normal will raise the sense of home as the people living in the diaspora think more about their places of origin.
The spread of the virus and the lockdown compelled people working abroad to call on their governments for help to return them home.
The new normal will have people thinking about their countries differently.
In 2017, Ugandans working abroad snubbed and ridiculed a foreign affairs ministry note requesting them to register. Hardly any responded but now faced with the coronavirus they are registering so as to be evacuated, marking the beginning of the new normal.
Now that they have realised the value of the Government knowing where they live and work, in future they will register. It is different for the illegals living under the radar. Nevertheless, these will improve their own networks for registration without compromising their concealed existence.
Ugandans abroad now appreciate that home is best and will not live abroad rootless. The cries to get back to Uganda have been loud, simply because they want to get back home where if they contract COVID-19 their families will there to provide care. Attitudes about registration in Uganda will also change.
It will not be as uphill a task as it was with the registration for national identity cards. Sometimes threats had to be employed to get people to oblige. Now, the ID is essential; without it no relief food.
Past efforts to register bodabodas failed, yet the riders are among those described as the hand-to-mouth earners affected most by the lockdown. As a result, efforts by the Government to reach them for assistance have been difficult and dogged the distribution of food.
Nearly all the hand-to-mouth, those who subsist on daily meagre income from the informal sector, are not known. There is no record of them even at LC offices as expected, which has been the norm. This will change after the lockdown with the people willing to be registered just to guard against any emergency in future.
It also follows that even if they live off their daily income, these people will in future plan for emergencies. Ironically the bulk of them fund the entertainment industry. From the little they earn they save to attend music concerts and go to the pubs, meaning that the propensity to save exists but spending priorities are wrong. A lot will change.
During the lockdown parents who were hardly at home are discovering the value of family time. In the past many stayed away for long hours, delegating domestic responsibilities to the maids. But following nearly two months of the staying home some time will be set aside for the family in future.
There are countless stories of children who have never seen their parents together in the house because of busy schedules and social commitments. Now the lockdown has put their parents in the same space and time with them.
Staying home is also making people realise and appreciate their freedoms and rights better. At home they are like prisoners; can't walk, work and go for parties, etc. Now they know they had freedom and rights before the lockdown.
Life will not be the same.
The writer is Vision Group's
Managing Editor, Editorial