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Covid 19 Pandemic Has Affected Several Businesses In Ghana, See Some Technologies Used And Lessons

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The coronavirus outbreak has led to revised growth forecasts for the global economy. Every aspect of our lives has been affected by the outbreak. Its impact on economic activity is extremely broad from dramatically diminished consumer discretionary spending to a freeze on business activities including capital budgets, hiring, and a reduction in everything but essential operational expenses.

Even so, it is clear that under the current conditions some businesses may become more critical to our lives and could face an increase in demand, such as in the case of the information and communication technology (ICT) industry. Now let's see how the pandemic has affected some businesses in Ghana, some of the agile and disruptive technologies used, and what Africa can learn from this pandemic.

1.Hospitality Industry/ Recreational Centers: The global trend in the cancellation or ban of flights, closure of borders both land, sea, and air, and the adhering to the covid-19 protocols to maintain social distancing, including the ban on public gatherings such as funerals and tourism has a huge negative impact on economic activities in the hospitality industries such as the hotel operators, tourist sites, car rental services, and the airline business.

The ongoing socio-economic crisis has also affected consumer behavior. Most physical stores are closing until further notice and many companies, for example in the hospitality or entertainment sectors, have “frozen” their services to respect the rules of social distancing and self-isolation. The profit margin of the above-mentioned businesses almost collapsed since people are banned from accessing their services and it harms the economy.

2. Impact on Commodity Prices:

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Ghanaians observed a drastic decline in the international price of crude oil as a result of a fall in demand. The significant decline in crude oil prices resulted in significant shortfalls in petroleum revenue for the year 2020. Consumers of petroleum products across Ghana are however likely to experience the decline in the international price of crude oil as the ex-pump price of petroleum also reduces.

The increased demand for gold as a haven as a result of the virus outbreak also has a positive impact on the balance of payments and receipts from mineral royalties. 

 3. Impact on Trade and Industry:

Local trade in Ghana reduced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that hit the country. We are already observing a very significant reduction in trade volumes and values, which constitutes the highest of Ghana’s imports and the second-highest of Ghana’s exports. We are also observing a low quantity of imported containers at the ports by at least one-third (1/3), resulting in a reduction in import duties at the various ports in Ghana like that of Tema and Takoradi ports. Reductions in imported goods marginally slow down manufacturing activities and business in Ghana. 

As the global pandemic hit the various businesses in Ghana, there were some agile and disruptive mechanism or technologies that were used in the various sectors where the necessary interventions were needed to ensure that operations continue with minimum disruption and such plays typically involve the shift system at work, reducing the number of workers among many others.

So in response to the adhering of the protocols, some businesses are making good use of modern technologies. Some of them are moving their customer support to online, with live messaging, video conference on zoom cloud meetings, video calling, and teleconferencing whereby those into retails and bulk purchase have started to expand and adjust delivery services to meet and adapt to customer expectations.

Also, some companies responded quickly to customer needs and gave some of their products free of charge to support customers in these uncertain times. For example, Google offered premium features Hangouts for free to its consumers till July 1 to help companies that are using it to be able to continue their meetings via video conferencing and teleconferencing.

These Are Some Of The Disruptive technologies That Were Used To Face The Pandemic

1. Cloud-based Application

This is application software that Is hosted in the cloud and is easily accessible from some electronic devices that have an internet connection. This means that anyone that is connected to the cloud-based or can collectively work with other colleagues from home. As a result of this, there were a lot of webinars held amidst the Covid-19. For example, the University of Education, Winneba held its 25th Congregation. 

2. Automation and Robotics

Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, several drones, automated trucks, and robots were used in the manufacturing sector. For a typical example, in Ghana drones were used to distribute Covid – 19 related materials such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE's) and blood to the various health centers across the country, and also in Rwanda, robots were used to speed up testing capacities in medical facilities while reducing health workers’ exposure to disease demonstrates the country’s adaption of technological innovation to enhance its COVID-19 response.

We know there have already been some challenges about how robotics is a disruptive force in the workforce by replacing humans with cheaper and more reliable machines. After all, greater numbers of robots and automated systems mean more professionals to program and maintain them. Those kinds of jobs pay more than simple assembly-line grunt work.

So What Is Africa Learning From This?

The Coronavirus pandemic brings sharply to the previous realization of Africa as a continent is affected by a global pandemic. This requires that we are all apprised with global tools and systems to predict, manage and monitor new challenges since we are exposed to pressures and challenges that require innovation, quick responses, and adaptable strategies particularly on knowledge creation and utilization of innovations that address health equity. Africa as said cannot play a background role as these interventions address its health system challenges adequately.

African governments have a central role to play in creating environments in which innovation and emerging technologies are effectively restrained and thrive. The current Coronavirus pandemic has unconditionally shown that cooperation between governments, innovators, both local and external, industry, research, funding bodies and other cooperate stakeholders are the genesis for the growth and development of innovative tools that adequately address national and regional anteriority.

Governments’ role in decision making also ensures adequate investments in infrastructure, capacity building, and strengthening research and development. These should ideally be located within frameworks that ensure appropriate balances to ensure that while viable global innovations are encouraged, local initiatives are not marginalized.

Approaches to the effective restraining innovation and emerging technologies should be multidisciplinary and should sustain the active involvement of local partnership. These approaches should also encourage the training of a new generation of scientists and innovators that are oriented towards problem-solving approaches by being abreast with country needs and frameworks. 

Some Lessons Learned

• Movement Restrictions And Partnership

Some countries with the African continent like Ghana, Nigeria, Côted'Ivoire, and Rwanda implemented movement restrictions by locking down some cities and provinces, border closures, contact tracing, testing, and quarantines to mitigate the virus’ spread. With border closures, the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates to us the value of freedom; the freedom to move, to be with those we love, to live in dignity and security for ourselves and those around us, from our loved ones to the refugees and the downtrodden.

• Also, the pandemic has thought Africans how to respond to strategies including the strong collaboration between the government and the private sectors. This underscored the need for African governments to enhance public-private partnerships in resolving the continent’s myriad challenges

 • Gender Disaggregation

Women have been disproportionately affected economically by COVID-19 in Africa. Despite this, national responses have devoted insufficient attention to the specific vulnerabilities of women. Given the significant role, women play in Africa’s socio-economic development, disregarding the gender gap in COVID-19 responses has the potential to exacerbate the continent’s already entrenched gender inequalities.

Given the foregoing lessons, African states and development partners should consider the following areas,

1. Strengthen Africa’s health infrastructure and health service delivery by providing adequate state support to domestic and traditional medical research, and collaborating with international pharmaceutical companies to enhance domestic production and also Provide incentives to women who own either small or medium-sized businesses owners, as well as socio-economic protection for women engaged in Africa’s informal economy. 

2. Increase access for females to healthcare and health-related information to mitigate their economic vulnerability to the pandemic especially in Africa’s rural communities.

This is the lesson that we must take into the post-Covid-19 pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic has shown us that the goals of all the domains must always be the same by contributing to the fulfillment of human needs and purposes. 

Content created and supplied by: Empress-V (via Opera News )

Africa

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