Day 2: 16 March 2021
SESSION 3: “Africa: Population Growth, Urbanization, Education and Employment”
Mr. Yannick Dupont, CEO, “SPARK”, Amsterdam, introduced the focus of his agency on empowerment of ambitious youth by developing higher (vocational) education and entrepreneurship to allow them to bring prosperity of their fragile and conflict ridden societies. This approach takes place in four stages: entry on distance during conflict, growth by establishing presence when stability has been reached, full handing over of programmes to local partners, and introducing new products locally or moving on to a different fragile location. By scaling and coaching growth-oriented SMEs to create and facilitate better access to finance and markets as well as access to relevant vocational training and internships. The impact of COVID has led to more rapid digitalisation and ultimately localisation to rebuild futures, economies and communities. It has put fragile states further behind, due to lack of access to hardware facilities for distant learning. A large share of SMEs is feared not to be able to continue, thus affecting the employment opportunities. Support to scale-up companies is one of the returns of investment for development. The digitalisation provides a huge opportunity in Africa but also risks leaving many people behind with some 800 million lacking access behind; travel patterns post COVID must move to localisation and decrease in mobilisation, such as working with and not for Africa. This requires development of domestic capacity to produce results to help local actors to build back better after the crisis. Working in difficult zones, traditional working with external actors is moving towards partnering with joint programming and in an east-west approach of which DIHAD is quite a unique example. (see attachment)
Dr. Luay Shabaneh, Regional Director for the Arab States and North Africa, UNFPA, focused in his presentation on COVID-19 and the demographic dividend (DD). This has been defined as the benefit that can arise when a relatively large share of the population is of working-age resulting from declining fertility, and investment in health, empowerment, education and employment through public action and private sector involvement. This combination of efforts can lead to GDP growth and accelerated human development. Most of Africa has not yet reached this phase with some two-thirds of its population still living on less than USD 2/day. To improve people’s lives, economic growth must be accelerated, and preparations be made for the changing age and size structure of the continent. The timing of the DDs in African Sub-Regions ranges from 1975 – 2028 in Northern Africa to 1997/98 West and Central Africa and projected to last until 2103 in West Africa and 2099 in Central Africa. Harnessing the DD is relevant to the speed in achieving the SDGs, mostly by empowering women and girls, with investment in their health, family planning, access to education and vocational training, decision-making power, and other proactive social policies. UNFPA’s rights based approach promotes harnessing the DD and achievement of several of the SDGs, such as ending unmet family planning needs, maternal mortality, gender based violence and harmful practices.
The COVID crisis has most negatively impacted poor and fragile states, disproportionally affecting women and girls, with increase in child marriage, and most measures for the growing work-age population. Therefore, service delivery in the health sector including family planning, SGBV and mental health must be resumed, and disadvantaged groups and girls be included in return-to-school strategies. (see attachment)
Dr. Charles Kwenin, Regional Director for Southern Africa, IOM, Pretoria, shared his perspectives on the topic by moving from population growth highlighting the population group and look at the employment aspect in urbanisation and those groups already on the move. COVID’s harm is in particular on them. The population growth rates in Africa are expected to be doubling by 2050, with key drivers including high fertility rates leading to an average rate of 4.7 children in Africa against a global rate of 2.2. Reasons are earlier adulthood and high death rate of three times the global average. Pressure on families compels them to migrate as a coping strategy. The increase in international migrants and their share of the global population in 2020 was the largest ever. The 2019 first International Migration report of IOM with the AU shows a relatively modest increase compared to other parts of the world with currently 2% of the total African population compared to 3.5% globally, the share of African born migrants outside the continent is 79%, while migrants within the continent is 53%. This has a significant impact on urbanisation in particular in Sub-Saharan Africa which by 2050 is foreseen to triple from the current 34%. Urban areas are epicentres of epidemics as seen in the COVID crisis with 47% living in slums or informal settlements, of which only half has access to enough space and water and necessary sanitary facilities, making them vulnerable and lacking access to employment opportunities. Therefore, migration should also be included in urban planning to accommodate increase and pressure on infrastructure and services in host communities.
Also include local community engagement in communication strategies and support SME in informal economies who are hardest hit in crises. Policies and planning must be underpinned by data and promote rapid access to housing and prevent forced evictions. COVID’s impact on education in the current crisis is creating a psychological stress and affects the academic structure. The health crisis, socio-economic crisis, and security crisis must be tackled to avoid further people trafficking and terrorism, and promote gender considerations in cross-border trade. The pandemic response should be along the nexus going beyond lifesaving to development support and working through partnerships and coordination in harmonised operational procedures. No-one is safe until everyone is safe. Together we have to fight a common enemy.
From the floor:
Focus on family planning and education for girls in the discussions is welcomed. SDGs are affected by demographic dynamics and affected by COVID. People centred agendas should be our aim to have a positive impact on the affected population.
Are cross border and internal migration caused by rapid urbanisation? Different reasons for migration exist, one of which is the population growth, with COVID leading to repatriation needing reintegration.
Recommendation to create an African – Asian alliance providing free information for women wanting to set up their own business.
Youth and employment are greatly affected by COVID, so how is the increase of terrorism by youth joining extremist groups seen? This is indeed of great concern if youth are idle and serve as a reservoir for recruitment needing to be engaged in better activities and countering extremism. reduction of aid does not necessarily increase terrorism as seen in the spread of ISIS which involves not just poor populations. We need a comprehensive package to create hope and provide skills and economic opportunities and an enabling social environment.
How should local and national leaders be advised to encourage urban and rural development in vulnerable areas during and after COVID? The economic impact in many areas requires a comprehensive response but economies decrease with stimulus packages promised but not reaching the needing societies and investment in education, development of human capacity and health infrastructures. Access to vaccines and collective efforts are critical to be ready for new crises. COVID was a mirror for the whole world on the systems and shown the inequality which needs to be improved in terms within and across countries through multilateral cooperation.
KEYNOTE ADDRESS “A Renewed EU-Africa Partnership: A Geopolitical Priority”
H.E. Ms. Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, virtually “A renewed EU-Africa partnership: a geopolitical priority”
A renewed EU- Africa partnership is high on the Commissioner’s political agenda in a world undergoing constant change with climate change and digital transformation. COVID is deepening existing imbalances, and the EU chooses international partnerships as its way to find solutions. Its focus is on having a transformational impact with its sister continent and dynamic young Africa with potential and promise, but hit very hard by the pandemic. The priority is to take EU – Africa relations to a next level with a proposal for renewed and five partnerships: free and digital; growth and shocks; peace, security and governance; and migration and mobility. Stronger partnerships, building on shared interests and values, are important to answer to the call of Africa’s young and dynamic generation with a focus on boosting education, training and skills, and also finding ways to involve them in decision making processes as empowering youth, women and girls will help to reach Africa’s full potential.
There is an extremely urgent need for access to vaccines, as ongoing delivery through COVAX is limited. COVID has magnified inequalities and weaknesses, but tools exist in global recovery, and opportunities in response to the demographic challenge. The upcoming AU / EU summit provides an opportunity to accelerate joint action, while other international partners, including the Gulf States, are being looked at for common initiatives in Africa. A multi-sector, multilateral and multi-stakeholder investment package is being defined as mandated by the European Council to create opportunities for both continents, while economic transformation can be promoted with public and private funding. It is now the time to focus on economic recovery, create future- proof and sustainable jobs for the growing youth. A renewed partnership with Africa will be key to address all global challenges of tomorrow. “Together we are stronger, together we can and we will recover from this pandemic.” (see attachment)
KEYNOTE ADDRESS “Humanitarian-Development Nexus – shifting from delivering aid to ending need”
H.E. Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary-General; Director, Regional Bureau for Africa, UNDP, focused in her virtual message on “Humanitarian-Development Nexus – shifting from delivering aid to Ending Need”. She commended for DIHAD for having become one of the world’s leading events that bridges the humanitarian and development agents. The two worlds have clashed and suspend sustainable development if the nexus is not elevated to centre stage. Humanitarianism alone if responding to cycles of need can prolong a much-needed breaking of the chain of dependence, taking much longer to reach the future we want. But development alone is utopia in this world of contradictions and conflicts and extremism in various regions in Africa. Development and humanitarian assistance must be done differently, prioritising aid dependency and investing in pending needs for development, using development solutions as effective antidotes to triggers of humanitarian crises. UNIS implementation is a way of offering development solutions in a crisis situation, with stabilisation work in places where peace starts to be visible. Opportunities creating fast moving investment in development with governments and local communities to provide basic services, restore state authority, investing in police and local governance, and justice systems for protection of civilians and in livelihoods to allow them to return to their communities and live in dignity. Lake Chad Basis stabilisation facility is an adaptable model to advance the nexus in practical ways. Creating thriving societies across the world would require to steer the push against need in favour of empowerment.
Putting the nexus in action requires reinvigorated planning, design, resourcing, delivery and monitoring of results of both humanitarian and development targets. Sustainable, multi-year, anticipated and flexible financing is essential, whereas analytics must be joined and include multidimensional economic modelling to understand where nexus will have most impact, adapting programming speed and sequence to types of contexts. Models touching upon prevention and stabilisation are critical. Ending need is a question of governance, working towards empowerment and giving people control of their destinies. COVID-19 has shown the humanitarian and development worlds can work together for a different future with better prepared systems. Together we can end needs and empower populations while also protecting and safeguarding the planet. (see attachment)
SESSION 4 “Africa: Aid Flows, Remittances, Trade, Investments and Economic Growth”
H.E. Amb. Eynat Shlein, Head of Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel – Chair – in her statement “Africa, post COVID” focused on the impact of conflict and humanitarian crises in East and the Horn of Africa, faced with protracted displacement and growing mixed migration flows. These are caused by complex crises also leading to damage to private and public infrastructure, economic collapse, trafficking, illicit trade as well as social tensions, infringements of human rights, extortion, marginalisation of and discrimination against groups such as internally displaced persons (IDPs). The region is currently host to around 4.2 million refugees and asylum seekers, and 8.8 million IDPs. The most pertinent challenges for the conflict affected and vulnerable host- and uprooted population are food insecurity, disease, and lack of shelter and basic services due to national and localised conflict together with severe natural hazards. The COVID-pandemic has further weakened the health and economic systems as well as protection, in particular of women and children, resulting in increased mortality and a loss of dignity. There is a need for a nuanced approach to needs in protracted crises to move towards stability, social cohesion and resilience, peacebuilding and respect for human rights by empowering local communities.
Of concern is also the significant fall in humanitarian funding, further worsening the humanitarian conditions when return takes place to a situation that does not yet provide durable solutions or security. To promote sustainable peace and prevention, working together along the humanitarian, development, peace nexus is needed to resolve tension, respond to immediate humanitarian needs and addressing the drivers of vulnerability through building social cohesion and peace at the local level. Cooperation and creativity are needed to promote peace and socio-economic recovery, building sustainable livelihoods for the most vulnerable to ensure that “no one is left behind”. (see attachment)
Mr. Claus Sorensen, Senior Adviser on Resilience, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), in his presentation focused on the sub Saharan Africa COVID shock. This one-time impact rips through the global economy and health services. Africa is not the most severely impacted, probably by lack of mobility and a younger population and likely also statistical issues. But the economy is greatly impacted with GDP decreased by 3.7% and per capita GDP by 6%, and remittances by 10%. This could affect delivery on and achievement of the SDGs. Africa is based on a monoculture with oil and commodities; tourism; food insecurity affecting 150 million people and 40 million expected; and conflicts.
Leadership has been shown in the international community in unprecedented ways. Priority has to be given to health and infrastructures. Distribution of vaccines should include all demographic groups to avoid mutations and new variances to ensure real coverage. All states should be supported by IMF, start digitalisation for education, move to a formal economy, provide a stable legal framework, and attract foreign direct investment.
The global nature of the crisis is getting more awareness but of impact on Africa is not sufficient “operation fear”. COVAX needs to be scaled up, African CDC needs support to build cold chains, distribution and transport, but conflict areas create insecurity and a threat for the global community. Several financial and fiscal policies and stand-by arrangements need to be updated. We should remain hopeful, “if there is a will there is a way”. (see attachment)
Mr. Khaled Khalifa, Senior Advisor and Representative to the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries, UNHCR, focused on faith based philanthropy as a solution for Africa. In Africa religion is the most existing in the whole world, and can be used to unite people. Some 40% or more in Africa are Muslim, many of whom living in Muslim countries which provide relevant remittances. More than six million people are refugees and 18 million are displaced in Sub-Saharan Africa, faced with the highest absolute poverty, requiring innovative solutions for which Islamic finance can be important. This is primarily the case as risk is shared and it allows for people to become bankable. Speculation and interest are not allowed, nor is investment in weapons or drugs.
The main financial tools are based on voluntary contributions with a variety of conditions attached to them:
– Zakat (2.5%): US$ 350 – 650 billion are circulated in the world, making it possible to improve remittances, sustainability as it is annual income. Around USD 500 million originate from the African Muslim diaspora. To gain trust of potential donors, the Zakat collection and distribution system in Africa could be modernised and monitored.
– Waqf: these are endowments and most are not accounted for;
– Sukuk: an efficient tool of social investment in Africa’s current situation with growing potential for Africa’s developing Sukuk market to help achieve the continent’s funding requirements for its extensive infrastructure development. Sudan was the first country to issue Sukuk in 2007. So far it accounts for US$ 23 billion, mostly to the Sudan, and also has a potential for non-Muslim such as South Africa and Ivory Coast. (see attachment)
Dr. Linda Adhiambo-Oucho, Executive-Director, African Migration and Development Policy Centre, Nairobi, focused her presentation on the impact of COVID on the labour market. Remittances, investments and trade are the main contributors to economic growth in Africa. Migration is an enabler for development in SDGs and guiding tool to create a safe environment where migration is possible. Countries in Africa have taken interest in participate in developing relevant policies to harness the benefits of migration’s contributions. Implementation of the African Continent Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) signed by 54 African States was delayed to January 2021 due to travel restrictions in many countries, thus severely reducing the labour migrants’ contributions, in particular in East Africa.
Initial research how national economies influence the way sectors operate found that the pandemic affected cross-border traders, SMEs, and most of all the hospitality industry. Nigeria’s food supply initiative was thwarted by raising commodity prices as well as unpredictable environmental factors, while East Africa had a locust invasion at the same time. The World Bank estimates a decline of 9% in remittance flow in Nigeria, while in Kenya it increased by 11% when the country received over US$ 2.9 billion. Labour migrants working in the Middle East were less able to send remittances home or return to their country. It is not clear whether this was also the case with remittances from migrants working within the continent. Research in Ghana has found that investments in construction, coal, gas and oil industries were greatly affected by the reduction of remittances as the diaspora focus more on their own immediate needs. The pandemic shows the need for African countries to establish a return, readmission, repatriation, program for their diaspora targeted to a range of industries to absorb the returnees. Countries have to consider the important role that migrants play in development of national economies through innovative technology services, knowledge transfer; the pandemic forces not only policy makers but also international foreign suppliers to support and strengthen the local industry to meet local demands. Finally, it is essential for African countries to establish return, readmission programmes of their own citizens and strategies to respond to emergency situations making use of the lessons learned from the pandemic. (see attachment)
From the floor:
As several legal frameworks do not allow for zakat, more flexibility in distribution is needed.
There is a reversed correlation between people affected by COVID and economic impact; need for multilateralism, and through Islamic financing and debt relief.
How has zakat been used so far? This information is not globally known, traditionally it is channelled through local NGOs but in some countries the government collects the funding for social activities (KSA).
How should Zakat be used differently? The Zakat rules its use to be in the direct vicinity, only by exception in other areas. Sukuk is for mega projects. Waqf is usable for sustainable projects with benefits for the next generation, which can include stocks and cash with higher yields.
Why are vaccines not accessible in Africa? Supply-chains are not yet working at capacity and not all vaccines have been approved in all countries. It is also a political issue as per vaccine diplomacy.
As Zimbabwe with a conventional banking system is not favourable to the non-Muslim community, how can its finance be used? Islamic financing is in principle accessible to all, as its concept is to be open for all forms of social initiatives.
The Chair invited panellists to reflect on how to better work together also post COVID: institutions and platforms should be more used and activated within a spirit of working together; innovation provides an opportunity to look for new ideas to reach solutions to chronic problems.
Mr. Khaled Sherif, Vice-President for Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery, African Development Group (AfDB), addressed in his video message the impact of COVID-19 in the African continent. In 2020 for all 54 AfDB countries loss in fiscal revenue was between 30 and 70% of projections and in 2021 the economic impact of COVID-19 is still very serious. Stimulus is needed to rebound for which USD 8 trillion was allocated for Europe and the Americas, and around USD 200 billion is so far available for Africa, of which US$ 5 billion granted by the AfDB, in response to the dire economic impact and uneven performance of commodities. Stimulus alone is not sufficient to address unemployment and rebuilding the private sector, and support state enterprises to make sure they can continue to provide needed goods and services. The need for rebound is significant, to build back what can be built back, not necessarily better. As most countries lack statistical savvy needed to provide evidence on number of people affected and deaths, the health situation is more than generally assumed, primarily due to the lack of healthcare facilities. For Africa to build back better there has to be a regain in resilience as it cannot rely on just 70 primary export goods, so economies have to diversify to manage external shocks. Far more vaccines are needed for the recovery of economics than the current support from COVAX. Such shocks can be very detrimental for the 2.3 billion Africans not only because of impact on health but of the economic devastation when the commodity market collapses. We need to ensure that such a situation does not recur in the future. (see attachment)
Prof. Gibril Faal, OBE, JP, Director GK Partners; Visiting Professor Institute of Global Affairs, London School of Economics, focused in his virtual presentation on “Innovation and Sustainability of African Development Finance”. He referenced his comments as Before, During and After COVID. Diversification in sources is needed. In 2019, US$ 2.6 trillion was allocated for all of Africa in comparison with US$ 2.8 trillion for Germany alone, while US$ 548 billion was transferred in remittances, of which a large share to Africa. Remittances are higher than ODA and FDI and are cyclical. The relatively small size of the African economy must be taken into account, with US$ 2.6 trillion for all of Africa in 2019, smaller than that of Germany, Japan, China or USA. GDP as indicator highlights the enormous importance and urgency of innovation and creativity to diversify and expand the African economy to achieve inclusivity and sustainable growth. The foreign portfolio investment in Africa is underused while diaspora populations are not uniform as are financial flows. The Continental African diaspora financing framework is aimed for support to infrastructure development and rehabilitation. Lessons for actions in sustainability include that ODA is only a limited share of funding; focus must be on innovative schemes for jobs for equitable and sustainable social development. Implementation framework on diaspora financing mechanisms. (see attachment)
“IHC responses to the Coronavirus Pandemic on the African Continent” was the focus of the presentation by Mr. Giuseppe Saba, CEO, International Humanitarian City (IHC), Dubai. In 2020, the IHC-community faced a busy year as illustrated by a video, with 85% of volume for medical supplies and protection gear, with a total increase from US$ 43.5 million in 2017 to US$ 94.7 million in 2019, US$ 138 million in 2020 and US$ 142 million in 2021 in medical stocks. Out of a total of US$ 99 million for Africa, US$ 36.7 million was in response to COVID, dispatched in more than 700 shipments to 49 countries.
The question remains whether the IHC community was ready to respond to this pandemic. Details are to be found on the humanitarian logistics databank. The main share of supplies went to Asia followed by Africa. Challenges include the crash of the full supply chain with competition in procurement from a limited number of sources as well as with air transport challenges. The joining forces by the private sector, governments and humanitarian community was unique, also seen the fact that a considerable amount needed cold storage. A world logistics passport will facilitate the full process coordinated by OCHA, while stocks prepositioning should be better prepared. The medical cold chain and kitting centre is an innovative solution. The global medical supply chain of the future will include capacity building and training, a logistics databank, and a rapid response facility. The IHC aims to work together with the nine other “ sisters” humanitarian cities in the world. (see attachment)
SPECIAL SESSION: “Shaping African Futures…beyond Covid-19″
Dr. Mukesh Kapila, Professor of Global Health and Humanitarian Affairs, University of Manchester; Former Under-Secretary-General, IFRC – Chair – introduced the theme of the session by pointing out that the impacts are huge in nature and scope and well described. Can Africans themselves influence their future and shape it? Its long history has shown that Africa is particularly influenced by developments outside the continent, with its population of 1.3 billion and under-reported COVID cases. It can also suffer second and third waves of the pandemic. Research shows that pre-COVID conditions can be reached only by 2040, but if vaccinations will be widely distributed there may be reason for optimism. The poorer population is likely to be at end of the queue before turning the COVID trend around. With the focus on COVID many existing diseases have remained unanswered or under attended. The lack of access to remote learning for all is leading to a lost COVID generation. More than one billion people will face extreme poverty and malnutrition. These incremental impacts will need a long time to be reversed and making reaching SDGs take at least a full decade. More than 114 million job losses and 5% economic decline will be rebound in 2021 but not for all countries. Prospects are not rosy seen the pandemic related deaths and developed countries will need to address the imbalance. Erosion of human rights and global standards will include postponed elections and erosion of citizen rights, internal conflict, refugee flows and cross-border tensions as seen already. Recovery depends on the rich leading the way to avoid further erosion of these standards. Poorer access to digital in less advanced states will widen the gaps within and among states. Climate change has gathered pace and low and middle economic states are suffering most. Positive developments in Sub-Saharan in the first two decades of the 21st century will slow down further, as will the share of decreasing confidence. Africa will need to find its own ways rather than just copy from other continents. The question remains whether Africa can show proper leadership and not just cope with the challenges. (see attachment)
Dr. Jakkie Cilliers, Head, African Futures and Innovation, Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria, virtually gave some insight in the many challenges for the long-term future of Africa. Compared to a pre-COVID forecast the number of people living in extreme poverty has increased by 31 million in 2020, 42 million in 2021 and 24 million in 2022. It shows a decline in GDP and government revenue while mortality increases. GDP is foreseen to be back to 2019 levels not before 2024 and the GDP gap will increase. The debt crisis will need debt forgiveness and moratorium. To address these challenges, it is critical to grow the formal sector, moving from low productivity like agriculture to higher productivity and services with income generating methods.
Many questions noted in research include the role of remittances; multi-infrastructure background; impact measured on GDP per capita with existing characteristics set agenda for 2063 with possible scenarios to leapfrog to more stability, agricultural transition, large infrastructure projects and logistics effects. Roll-out of improved WASH, investment in education, better governance, agricultural transition and manufacturing with enough jobs, and trade integration with more foreign direct investment is essential. “Put Africa First and unleash a revolution.” (see attachment)
Dr. Asha Mohammed, Secretary-General, Kenya Red Cross Society, Nairobi, looked back at unprecedented changes and disruptions and recommended that such be anticipated further. The catalyst for accelerated change leads to an increase in inequalities. The future patterns of needs will be more complex and require multi-hazard integrated responses. Local organisations have been at the centre with support by local actors and health volunteers and homebased care instilling a renewed sense of urgency to meet humanitarian needs. Localisation is the future for improvements, and response must be locally driven as communities in the end are the only fast responders. New technologies play a key role in health response with good collaboration between the private sector, non-profit organisations, governments and providing counselling services. Kenya’s technological innovations are alive and to be used widely. Technology will continue to be needed to create job opportunities for youth, with constant innovation to respond to African realities and opportunities. Science preparedness requires better planning to respond to health crises, distribution of food aid, screening volunteers, and risk communication, while statistics can enhance social progress. Volunteering plays an important role in the COVID response, including in disaster response. Women as most volunteers need to be accommodated to allow for their multiple roles. Aid delivery by trucks has to be replaced by cash transfers which will also allow for access in remote areas. Science and creating financing mechanisms can be of support, while consensus building must also be a multi-stakeholder action. New partnerships are needed to better work together with inter-operable tools to prevent and prepare for disasters. Humanitarian agencies should be ready to play their part and have also soft skills. “Act locally and think global” is a valid mantra.
Dr. Caroline Kisia, Former Executive Director, Action Africa Help International, Nairobi, wondered what a new normal would look like and how well Africa can adjust to this shift already ongoing. There is a need for health system strengthening and better preparedness with both continental and national institutions. Health investments must be seen as a good investment, as is for a country to start manufacturing domestically what it needs in better supply chains for food and medical supplies. In several camps, refugees locally produced masks and PPE thus making full use of their capacity. The use of technological innovations to provide and supply oxygen as a public-private partnership at half of the previous cost and guaranty of a smooth supply with the production of solar power oxygen tanks.
Public-private partnerships and COVAX should result in better availability of COVID vaccines. It is clear what needs to be done for the local manufacture of vaccines as was done for PPE, while being aware of existing intellectual property rules. WTO mechanisms should be reviewed vs local manufacture on the basis of existing capacity. Other diseases as HIV/AIDS would also benefit from the same accelerated vaccine production as for COVID.
Public health measures have helped to flatten the curve in Africa, but the medical side of focus on health care has been at the expense of public health. Core morbidity and communicable diseases have worsened at the time of COVID and a link to school and adolescent health care is essential. Home-based care should be supported with innovative measures and investments as well as immunity boosting measures with mental health being better focused upon. Technological revolution in mobile health care and telemedicine, using a hybrid approach of community health workers and digital connectivity where good WIFI is available can be an additional tool.
Building upon the concept of homebased and digitalised care, digital payment methods are to be further leveraged with mobile wallets and care for new born, digital patient records and care systems, and use of blockchain-supported digital consultations. Leadership’s impact also concerns the issue of gender with women 25% in leadership positions in the health sector where 70% of jobs are carried out by women.
It is important to negotiate globally and act locally, with local leadership also targeting the local population involving all segments of society. National sovereignty is relevant as no country can move forward when only relying on the charity of others. We can achieve more once we put our minds to it. “Africa delivering for Africa and Africans.” (see attachment)
Dr. Jebamalai Vinanchiarachi, Principal Advisor, Knowledge Management Associates (Austria), Former Principal Advisor to the Director-General, UNIDO, expanded on the need to reset approaches but not strategic development priorities not yet achieved: converting resource-based comparative advantages into competitiveness, commodities into value added products, and marginalised urban and rural communities into development catalysts. World trade is driven by highly valued products. Growth based on a commodity boom has shown of greatest value for wealth increase. Application of science and technology is critical for successful agriculture and transferring commodities into high value added products which is not yet part of the reality in Africa. Universal basic income as free distribution is important but the question is how long this can be sustainable as poverty cannot be relieved by charity but needs wealth creation. Before the industrial revolution, the household sector was the income-generator and produced in responding to the needs of the population as is currently happening as well.
What needs to be reset includes using new technologies and simple tools to rekindle new and dynamic sources of growth; participating in Afro-Gulf regional innovation systems; and fostering sectoral and incremental innovation systems through effective transfer of technology
(LLLs link, liberate, and learn, and CCCs connect, comply and compete). Africa is too big to ignore and has great potential to grow into an important economic power.
Numerous examples of all approaches, their outcome and priority setting were provided for illustration. (see attachment)
From the floor:
What Africa needs is a good set of lawyers as terms of engagement with the rest of the world may require a new way of interaction. Availability of vaccines and the terms of trade are closely related and show the dysfunctionality of globalisation, setting the agenda for the road to Africa’s economic future.
Africa’s economy could double in view of population growth, which requires rights based family planning. Public health’ impact requiring going back to basics in education, sanitary facilities as effective ways of preventing diseases.
The corona virus period has led to local production through innovation and policy choice and proposal is to continue to act locally and adjust policy choice to local conditions.
Voluntarism lessons which other countries can take up?
Advancing literacy rate of growing population can lead to empowerment and improved life conditions, and converting resources into economic growth.
Governments should encourage new initiatives and create incentives, while volunteerism show this can be challenging because the systems are too much organised and informal volunteering must be encouraged by quantifying in job searches.
Going back to basics is already happening with self-isolation possibilities reducing the fear for testing, and support such home-based health interventions is needed.
A significant mindset-shift and leadership are needed to move towards local action as shown in the current crisis as the continent has more than adequate brainpower and can have a bright future.