Transforming Africa – Economic Reconstruction
By Emmanuel Allottey
The COVID-19 has brought an unprecedented opportunity for the African continent to transform itself through deliberate action. Economic reconstruction speaks to visiting the fundamentals of the economy and prioritise which areas will generate the greatest output and impact to the nation.
Prioritization of essential areas of the economy, domestic led growth, self-funded projects, citizen empowerment and job creation have emerged as critical to achieving national vision and development goals.
The biggest challenge facing African governments is youth unemployment. The combination of government-imposed lockdowns and other restrictions needed to address the public health crises has created a surge in unemployment for the youth involved in informal jobs.
The decline in economic activity will have devastating effects on youth employment prospects. One positive outcome of the crisis is that younger people may remain in education. This would shield them from the worst of the downturn, and lead to higher productivity and a better-skilled workforce when they come into employment.
The impact of COVID-19 on international travel has buckled tourism reliant economies. African nations are forced to relook at their strategy at attracting foreign direct investment and international investors to support their growth and development. Other impacted areas include commodity market such as mining, which has taken a knock due to a slowdown in international trade.
The importance of infrastructure investment in areas such as telecommunication has emerged with the need to rely on digital to fight the spread of the virus. The recognition of need for accelerated development of towns and rural areas has become evident.
The education system requires a total overhaul aligned to critical skills, training for occupations in high demand. The literacy rate in Africa is 70% lagging behind world average of 90%. A combination of e-learning and classroom learning needs to be tailored to the preparing children of the future. To facilitate the expansion of digital learning, governments should also establish common learning platforms and introduce regulations that support innovation through dedicated funding plan embedded in national development budgets.
The foundation of political stability and continuity will be the driving factor behind economic recovery. African economies have experienced economic stagnation over the years, which has put a strain in the effort to tackle the historical structural inequalities, unemployment and poverty. Collaboration between stakeholders and decisive action to mobilise all resources and efforts into economic reconstruction activities will transform the trajectory of the economy.