WEF Africa Group leaders meet over COVID-19

By ZBC Reporter
THE World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Africa Regional Action Group is looking at the continent’s economic response to COVID-19 as well as implications for the region.
The Regional Action Group for Africa was launched by the World Economic Forum, consisting of fifty Chief Executive Officers, Ministers and key organisations from the region who are long-standing partners of the forum in driving public-private cooperation for impact.
Africa Regional Action Group inaugural meeting was held this Thursday under the theme: Africa’s Economic Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and implications for the region.
The virtual meeting was attended by Botswana President, His Excellency Mokgweetsi Masisi, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Executive Secretary Vera Songwe, Sakunda Holdings Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Kudakwashe Tagwirei, AngloGold Ashanti Chairman Sipho Pityana, Absa Group Chief Executive Officer Daniel Mminele, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) Director John Nkengasong, Equatorial Guinea Minister of Finance, Economy and Planning, Cesar Augusto Mba Abogo among other successful people in the continent.
According to the meeting write-up, socio-economic issues, geopolitical issues and industrial issues were to be considered for the good of the region.
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi who attended the meeting to give special remarks said supply chain security for critical supplies is important to livelihoods and health response, necessitating a coordinated approach by the continent.
“Lockdowns in at least 33 of Africa’s 54 countries have blocked farmers from getting food to the market, how can governments balance necessary public health measures with the need to protect incomes as well as secure food supplies and essential services. There is a need to help policymakers produce post COVID economic growth agendas and develop solutions to mitigate the rising social tensions arising from lockdowns,” he said.
President Masisi also noted that the pandemic gives the continent an opportunity to redefine Africa’s growth trajectory.
“The COVID-19 pandemic presents the greatest opportunity to completely redefine Africa’s growth trajectory by boosting productivity and shifting from commodity-based growth. African multistakeholder efforts to influence the long term structural elements of the economy need to consider employment, development, import-substitution, climate risks and the overall structure of the desired economic structure post-COVID-19,” said Masisi.
Sakunda Holdings Chief Executive Officer and Founder Kudakwashe Tagwirei told the meeting that serious attention must be put towards promoting research and development with institutions of higher learning.
“There is need for awareness campaigns regarding the impact of COVID-19 to ensure that our citizens are well-informed precautionary measures being taken by governments. We also need to pay special attention to the funding of research and development within universities across the continent to ensure we have adequate information to fight this disease as well as for generations to come,” he said.
Tagwirei also added that investing in agriculture is key in ensuring the fight against hunger is achieved for economic transformation.
” Investing in agriculture must also be a priority and this can be done through building capacity among African institutions to fight hunger,” he said.
According to the World Economic Forum, the exports and imports of African countries are projected to drop by at least 35 percent from the level reach in 2019. The loss in value is estimated at approximately US$270 billion.