COVID-19 and the Need for Strong Leadership to Address the Impact of the Pandemic
Africa is no stranger to serious challenges but the year 2020 will forever leave an indelible mark on the African continent. While other challenges have made impact here and there across the continent, COVID-19 has impacted the whole continent at the same time, calling for a serious collective response to the pandemic.
The continent has been ill-prepared for the pandemic; the underfunded, underequipped and poorly staﬀed health system has never faced a test at this level. Above all this, the economy of the continent shrunk by 4% in 2020, reducing on gains made in pre-pandemic years. Africa relies heavily on export of raw materials but the impact of the pandemic on the global stage and the resultant fall in demand for commodities has hit the continent hard. This, in turn, has meant that earnings through statutory taxes have declined since the pandemic hit, due to reduced economic activity.
The tourism sector, which has been a major contributor to many economies on the continent, has been one of the worst aﬀected, along with associated industries such as hotels and lodges. Many people are out of employment as a direct result of reduced economic activity. This has put more stress on the informal sector of the economy where many of Africa’s entrepreneurs earn their livelihoods.
In these challenging times, governments must balance between their obligation to support the fragile health sector and the need to alleviate the plight of the economically marginalized, as well as others who have lost their earnings because of the pandemic.
This calls for strong, courageous and innovative leadership if the continent is to emerge positively from the adverse impact of COVID-19. Such leadership must also be accountable, prudent in resource utilization and have the capacity to make right policy choices to address the impact of the pandemic.
Working with well-coordinated and strong governance systems will be key to their success in lifting the continent from this crisis. Furthermore, such leaders must encourage innovation to provide local solutions to this pandemic. It is in times like these that leadership can make a diﬀerence between dying and surviving. So far, collaborated eﬀorts among African leaders have succeeded in minimizing the loss of lives at a greater scale on the continent.
EMIT is working on the continent, training and equipping Africa’s leaders from the grassroots up, to raise leaders who become agents for positive change. The need for leaders has never been greater than it is in these times.