Challenges brought about by the coronavirus Pandemic are unprecedented, and Africa must prepare for a prolonged crisis, McKinsey & Company has said in a report released yesterday.
The detailed analysis titled ‘Reopening and reimagining Africa: How the COVID-19 crisis can catalyze change’ was supplemented by interviews with dozens of experts and leaders across the continent, who shared their perspective on what the “next normal” can look like, and how to get there.
Reported case numbers are now accelerating in many African countries, and low rates of testing suggest an even more serious situation.
The World Health Organization projects that up to 190,000 deaths could occur over the next year if the pandemic is not controlled.
Despite a worsening public health crisis, governments are increasingly exploring paths to reopen as the continent faces its first recession in 25 years looming, threatening the jobs or incomes of 150 million Africans.
In the next few months, African countries will need to find smart approaches to reopen for business while ensuring safe ways of working.
McKinsey proposes a three-step process to reopen economies in a way that safeguards lives and livelihoods.
This starts with defining a tiered set of local response measures, from the least restrictive to the most restrictive.
Next, regions can be triaged by both outbreak severity and health system readiness.
Finally, continuous monitoring of progress and adherence is required.
“However, applying these steps is not a one-time process to move beyond the pandemic. Ongoing capabilities are required to manage both the public health response and the economy through a prolonged recovery. These capabilities are the “muscle” we need to begin strengthening,” the report said.
“We also believe that crisis-driven action currently underway contains the seeds for a large-scale reimagination of the continent’s future. Even as we manage a crisis, our continent’s longer term recovery and re-emergence requires thinking beyond the crisis as well.”
The report presents ideas to reimagine African society, business, and government.
Reimagine African society – If governments, businesses, development partners, and citizens act with renewed purpose and imagination now, they can help ensure that COVID-19 catalyzes positive, sustainable social change and a desirable new normal. The three key opportunities to reimagine societies are to:
- Accelerate Africa’s digital transformation
- Put renewed focus on serving the needs of vulnerable urban populations
- Transform African healthcare systems for resilience and equity.
Reimagine African business – COVID-19 has sparked extraordinary innovation as companies contribute to bolstering health-care and find new ways to serve stakeholders. The crisis could catalyze long-term transformations. McKinsey outlines three key opportunities for reimagining business:
- Strengthen sector competitiveness through consolidation and innovation.
- Reshape manufacturing, with a focus on self-reliance.
- Catalyze the formalization of African economies.
Reimagine African government – Governments are taking important steps to contain the virus and mitigate its economic fallout. In so doing they have taken on significantly larger roles in the economy and society. Intergovernmental institutions have also acted with speed, decisiveness, and collaboration. If this can be sustained, the benefits for Africa’s people could be immense. The report outlines three key opportunities for reimagining government:
- Plan for a more active government role in the economy.
- Forge a stronger social contract between citizens and government.
- Sustain momentum in regional and pan-African cooperation.