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Opportunities from a global pandemic

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In an insightful African Business Magazine article, 2019 Tutu Fellow, Ronak Golpaldas examines the opportunities the global pandemic has presented the African continent with. He goes on to unpack four areas that present the greatest opportunities, namely, in healthcare, public-private collaboration, economic diversification; and regional cooperation.

Ronak Gopaldas is a political economist, “pracademic”, writer and speaker. His work focuses on the intersection of politics, economics and business in Africa. He stresses the importance of finding opportunity in crisis. In his piece, he notes that, “it is important not to lose sight of how these disruptions can be used to catalyse significant behavioural, business and governance improvements and leave lasting legacy benefits.”

Principally among these is the undeniable need for healthcare facilities to be upgraded. “Since healthcare spending and investment has now assumed central importance, deploying these funds strategically could result in material improvements in skills, facilities and equipment.” More than this, Ronak writes that “any initiative which expands coverage and care for the most vulnerable in society will pay long-term dividends. Indeed, considering Africa’s much vaunted demographic dividend, ensuring a healthy population is central to capitalising on its human and economic growth potential.”

He pointed out that that this was seen in many countries during the Ebola epidemic, which resulted in a “more resilient public health system with significantly better skills, institutional capacity and preparedness for future health crises.”  Ronak points out that the pandemic has encouraged public and private entities to find common ground to mobilise resources and work together on crisis management, and provided striking examples. He urged these governments to harness these collaborations and work towards “stakeholder value”.

He also considered the possibilities of the pandemic stimulating economic diversification and lessening the long-standing dependence on commodity revenues, highlighting two opportunities therein: technology and food security, both with the potential to greatly build on regional trade and integration on the continent. Linked to this, he commended the African Union for its responsiveness during the pandemic, acting with “remarkable urgency in efforts to provide support to the most vulnerable countries on the continent.”

Ronak is a currently a Director at Signal Risk and a Fellow at the Centre for African Management and Markets at the Gordon Institute of Business Science. He was previously the Head of Country Risk at Rand Merchant Bank. Ronak is an alumnus of the Asian Forum on Global Governance as well as the young African Leadership Initiative.

The full article is at African Business.

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Tuesday, 26 January 2021

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