Life is full of challenges and opportunities, and early 2020 is already an unprecedented year.
The year 2020 would be remembered in this century and for all time for the global Coronavirus Pandemic.
In a few months, it has infected over a million people all over the world and has killed tens of thousands, while the governments are battling the save people’s lives and their country’s economies.
The battles are unprecedented in the era of billions of self-made experts on social media.
Popular religious leaders and secondary school dropouts have become scientific and technology experts posting contradictory videos and articles on the latest medicines and 5G technology.
It’s a bundle of global mess!
Anyway, I’m not a scientific or technology expert, so I won’t go. I’m just a humble former banker and now Coach.
I love to look at threads and data to help me clients answer basic personal, career and business questions.
One thing is very obvious, the Coronavirus pandemic brings a lot of challenges and opportunities.
The History of Global Pandemics
It’s very interesting that a lot of youths do not know that human civilization has suffered global pandemics before.
This is both good and bad.
It’s good because it tells us about the progress in the medical profession.
Modern medicine has done the most amazing job to minimize casualties due to the dangerous effects of microbes in the last 100 years.
Scientific research has produced medication for the most prevalent illnesses and vaccines for the most dangerous microbes that we have encountered.
The bad part is that our educational systems have not done such excellent work that is needed.
It seems that our history classes have been miseducation us to let us forget many parts of human civilization history.
And the less we remember the bad times, the more that we will do those things again.
Of note in recent history is the Spanish flu which killed 50-100 million people during the first world war.
We survived those pandemics during the time when the medical profession wasn’t as good as it is today, so we have greater hope that we will survive and thrive after this Coronavirus pandemic.
So, I want to encourage you to follow the advice of the scientific and medical professionals to make sure that you arrive on the other side.
The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Exposed Many Challenges
The impact of the challenges of COVID-19 is so huge that it may continue through this decade and beyond.
It has challenged not only the medical systems of the world but governments and businesses.
The number one stock market in the world (New York Stock Market) has totally collapsed beyond the extent of the 2018 financial crisis in a few weeks.
Tens of thousands of people all around the world have died in a few months. Major cities across the world are on lockdown for weeks on ends.
No one can easily predict when things will go back to normal if ever, more so for African countries.
Many people including myself do not know how to assess the progress of African governments in the fight against Coronavirus.
There is very little data available.
I’m not sure that African governments are test people for the Coronavirus. Without testing, we cannot effectively plan how to combat this disease.
While cities are supposed to be on lockdown, some people are having guests in their homes and holding parties, others are walking or driving around.
I have many members of my family in Africa, I sincerely hope that the authorities are taking this pandemic seriously and are doing the right things.
Unfortunately, there is no way to be certain.
Let’s look at some challenges that are vivid to observers.
Challenges on The Local Population
Everything boils down to people and their everyday lives. Right now, it doesn’t look good and it will increasingly get worse.
Three main reasons; how we live our everyday lives, work and our current health conditions
How we Live
Outside our villages, the majority of our population do not live flats/apartment or family houses.
They live in communal houses, where several families live in a single house, sharing amenities: bathroom, toilets, and kitchen.
A single house like this in an Africa city can easily be home to between 30-60 individuals. In developed countries, the house will be home to a maximum 10 individuals.
This is a recipe for disaster during a health pandemic.
Interestingly we haven’t seen the thread and I’m very hopeful that it doesn’t come.
But we need to monitor the situation closely.
How we Work
Over the last few decades, a large proportion of the young and vibrant African population has migrated to our ever-growing cities.
Unfortunately, few of them have found the dream jobs they were envisioning.
A large number of people work for daily wages in varied areas of industries. Their work is not documented, and they get paid only when they work.
Another segment of young Africans has taken their work future in their hands by working for themselves. They are the entrepreneurs who will build Africa.
The life and work of these young Africa are very hard, and they can’t afford to down tools at any time.
There is no social security for them. Their homes, work, and their lives are in the balance.
Our Current Health Conditions
This has been a concern of mine for a long time.
Many people of Africa origin all over the world have undiagnosed health conditions which make us vulnerable to the attack of the COVID-19 disease.
Before now, many seemingly healthy people of African origin (in Africa or elsewhere) suddenly fail and die of undiagnosed health conditions.
I personally survived one of those conditions, high blood pressure.
With the overall poor health infrastructure and the superstition in the African population, many individuals certainly have undiagnosed health conditions.
I’m mostly concerned for the African middle class.
Most people in this class have lived a sedentary lifestyle, which may leave them susceptible to the havoc to the Coronavirus.
This is a big worry for Africa, which we need to address, fast!
Challenges on Medical Professionals and Medical Infrastructure
COVID-19 would change a lot in the Administration of Healthcare all around the world especially in the US and Africa.
In the United States, healthcare has been run mostly by parasitic MBAs and the Pharmaceutical industry.
Africa has nonexistent healthcare system.
Both need major changes.
Over the decades, the investments in medical education, government hospitals in Africa have gone from very bad to nonexistent.
High-level government officials spend loads of their country’s foreign exchange to be treated in European and American hospitals.
Government hospitals do not have the basic necessities to treat the public. But the poorest in the population go there anyway because they do not have a choice.
Many buy all the medicine and tools that will be treated with. Either they do this or die.
The middle class either patronize private hospitals in Africa or go abroad from medical treatments.
Only the poorest go to defunded government hospitals.
The medical professionals who work in these hospitals are frustrated by the lack of equipment to do their jobs.
The best talents end up in Europe, America or the Middle East where they are appreciated, earn a lot of money as they do their jobs at very high standards.
Now, with the lockdown of countries, major cities as flights due to COVID-19, no one can seek medical treatment abroad.
High-level government official, their families, other rich people, the middle class and the poor of Africa must be treated in Africa if they fall sick during this global crisis.
The question everyone is asking is:
Would this force African governments to fund, build modern hospitals and generally improve health education?
We all hope so, but no one knows.
Lack of Data
Data is maybe the most important tool in this fight because it helps to make effective decisions
Over fifteen years ago, I was opportune to work as an operations data analyst in a global bank. I analyzed operations data for decision-makers, and I experienced the value of non-judgmental.
Data will show all the things that humans don’t want to see or talk about.
Data show the status quo and future threads. It makes everything plain and relatively easier for decision-makers.
It shows where to concentrate at the moment and where to build up resources for the next move.
So far, African countries have produced minimal data, and that is a big worry.
Impact and Challenges to GDP
Apart from people’s health, the impact on GDP is the easiest to see and measure.
With no economic activities, no flow of goods, services, and money, the global economy will be rocked by economic recession.
Many African countries rely on one or two product (oil or Agricultural product), this is a recipe for disaster.
With the oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, oil price is in the cutters. And so, the GDP of countries that rely on oil for their main revenue.
Right now, no shipping of products, we don’t manufacture any essential products/services that the world desperately needs.
What would the economies of African countries be after this pandemic?
It’s long overdue for African countries to diversify their economies!
The Immediate and Long-term Opportunities that This Coronavirus Pandemic Has Exposed
After every downpour, the sun will inevitably shine
I believe that this is the opportunity for Africa to catch up a little bit and rebuild itself. But we must take the opportunity and not let it slip away as usual.
Governments and Entire Countries Strategies
The impact on government strategies is huge and it should be reflected by the actions that will be implemented across the board.
The whole economic, social, health, education, etc. strategies need huge changes to reflect the new norms.
Africa is already down, that the only to go is up.
However, that rate of the needed changes will ultimately depend on the thinking and strategies of African leaders.
The future alliances that will be built with the West and with China will be very crucial.
Infrastructural development: electricity should be a top-three requirement.
Law and order institutions should be the foundation to attract investors, and technology education is paramount to build the future Africa.
Businesses And The Workforce
The opportunities that this global pandemic have created businesses gives me a lot of excitement because its business and entrepreneurship is the way forward for Africa.
I expect more new businesses to be created from this disaster.
Many more African businesses will have to understand the need for risk assessment and build that into their strategies.
African businesses would need to become more organized. Planning will become important and it will help businesses grow in a more sustainable way.
Technology will need to be introduced to a larger proportion of the workforce.
Remote working, adding more people with disabilities and new mothers can work from their homes.
These are all flexible and need time to develop, but it is inevitable that huge changes are coming.
Healthcare Should Be A Human Right Issue
Healthcare for all human beings would be one thing I will always fight for because I know firsthand the effect of not having a great health.
For almost ten years, I’ve been living with health issues. Fortunately, I’m living in a country where I am being taken care of at no extra cost to me.
If I wasn’t living in the United Kingdom, I may have died of my injury, and my loved ones would have suffered an unnecessary loss.
Many African countries do not have adequate healthcare systems.
I believe that the issue is nothing about lack of money, but the lack of willingness from the people in leadership.
Mostly because of corruption, and they have alternatives.
The global lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic eliminated the overseas alternative African leaders had.
Now, they and their families are been treated in the same hospitals and by the same doctors that treat the everyday citizens.
Now, we hope that they will get the message to build the health infrastructure and to make healthcare available to every one of their citizens.
Of course, that will be considerable discussion about the funding, and every citizen must be willing and ready to contribute their part.
It’s the Time to Introduce More Technology
This is the time in human history that the need of technology has been very clear.
Communication: television, phone calls, video calls, live streaming, etc. have been invaluable to everyone during the lockdown.
We must start introducing technology for online learning and work from home across African countries, these are very essential for the future.
Even though more humans are scared that they will lose their jobs to Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation has helped the like of Amazon to continue to deliver essential services to the western world.
Africa must start building and integrating automation into the processes of essential services that cannot be shut down during a time of pandemic.
It will be a lifeline for our future survival.
Education is Key To Contribute to The World
We may think that Africa has a lot of educated people, I would like for to think about this in a different way.
Africa may have a lot of certificated people, but we need more really educate people to build the Africa of the future.
There are real differences between Schooling/certification and Education, and we need to understand these differences.
Schooling is an industrial revolution idea to build the workforce for the factories. It evolved to the certification of today still based on the need of various industries.
Schooling/Certification indoctrinates people to perpetuate the system built by the owner class.
Education on the other, have the power to elevate the mind and allows people to think outside the box and to find solutions to problems.
Education is what we all need.
Africa Must Be Ready for The Next Pandemic!
World leaders in both governments and the private sectors knew that a pandemic was inevitable.
Although the reactions around the world show that there wasn’t adequate preparation. Mostly because some powerful politicians in major countries deny science.
However, after the challenges that countries around the world faced during this Coronavirus pandemic, those politicians will be more careful to deny scientific predictions.
And I hope that will also lead to actions of climate change.
Proper Risk Assessment and Preparedness
I know that many Africans like to leave things in the hands of God, that very good and I do too.
But, we should only bounden God with the things we don’t have the knowledge and knowhow to handle things.
Unfortunately, we have left many things we should have been able to handle to God, and He leaves those things alone, looking at us like lazy children who do not want to do their homework.
I believe that this is one of the many reasons why we are where we are as Africans.
We need to improve and stop wanting others to do our jobs for us.
We need to imbibe risk assessment in all we do and be prepared if things go wrong.
In all levels of government, business, and social institutions, risk assessment and preparedness must be documented, and the people trained to implement them effectively.
We Must Let The Experts Take The Lead
At times like this, when people’s lives are at stake, it should be very important for us to let the experts of the issue at hand take the lead.
Politicians and religious leaders need to take a step back.
This is not their domain and there should be serious consequences if they do anything that may make things worse than necessary.
Free speech should be a core value in any free society. But the expression of free speech must not lead to people losing their lives.
Anyone who is not an expert on the subject but speaks as if they are should be sanctioned.
And you should self-control the communication you put out on social media.
You should not let fear make you start spreading information about things you don’t understand.
We must start now to educate ourselves on basic science because science is the basis of everything in the future.
Take Better Care of The Earth
As Africa embark on aggressive development, we need to also be innovative.
We have the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the western countries who polluted the earth as they built the factories.
We should use the latest technologies every time we have the change.
There are not only saving the earth, but they are safer and more economical in the long run.
Take these thoughts to bed every night, and let your subconscious mind play around with the many challenges and present you with opportunities in your waking moment.
To yours and Africa’s progress…