Impact of COVID19 on the Africa We Want
#COVID19 is set to disrupt the road map towards the Africa We Want.The Africa WE Want is detailed in the Agenda 2063 blue print signed by all African countries in 2013. Agenda 2063 also known as Vision 2063, ensures the continent becomes a global player through inclusive socio- economic development based on intra- regional trade guided by good governance and the maintenance of peace.Linked to Agenda 2063 are United Nations Sustainability Development Goals.
The #AfCFTA (Africa Continent Free Trade Agreement) was concluded in record time, under 3 years to be precise ! 30 countries against the required 22 ratified the Continental Trade Agreement that comes into force on the 1st of July 2020. This is no mean feat as some trade agreements have taken more than ten years to conclude.While we applaud the speed and enthusiasm that has been manifested by African member states, the excitement is short-lived due to the outbreak of the #COVID19 that is seemingly set to disrupt Vision 2063.
The pandemic #COVID19 has disproportionately impacted Africa in relation to other continents because of the fragile economies that are found in African countries.Most of the economies in Africa are driven by the informal sector which comprise of MSMEs largely led by women.This sector generates employment and has become the pulse of African economies.The current highly effective lock-down measures to combat the disease have dealt a severe blow as jobs disappear while the stream of income for women to run households has been wiped out.
African countries currently face a myriad of challenges that have been compounded by #COVID19. The economies have been already weakened by epidemics such as malaria, ebola, tuberculosis and HIV.The impact of the corona virus in the developed world has been largely felt on the elderly segment of the population however in Africa the diseases may attack all the segments of the population due to existing conditions enumerated above.
Notwithstanding the adverse impact of COVID-19 the success of the Africa Continent Free Trade Agreement is hinged on the creation of the common market of more than a billion people characterized by a demographic dividend of youth whose median age is 18 years. The median age in Africa is 18. In Europe, it’s 42. Africa is the world’s youngest continent, by far(Alex Brent.Mail and Guardian News Paper). The world cannot afford to ignore this fact in the fight against COVID-19, it becomes a global collective effort to fight the disease in Africa that could rob Africa of the potential middle class.
The Chairperson of the African Union HE Cyril Ramaphosa has mobilized 12 envoys to mobilize economic support for Africa to combat the impact COVID -19 (https://au.int/en/pressreleases/20200412/african-union-chair-president-cyril-ramaphosa-appoints-special-envoys).
Article 3e of the AfCFTA elaborates on socio- economic inclusivity.However research reveals that MSMEs and women led organizations lose out in these trade agreements at the expense of large corporations and multinational corporations(V. Songwe Women Shaping Global Economic Governance). It is important therefore for AU leadership that all the economic endeavors reflect gender mainstreaming that will be effective in translating MSMEs and women led organizations.
#AfCFTA OWITZIMBABWE will be playing a leading role in providing women with the required skills so that they do not only benefit from these trade agreements but they also become viable formal entities that live beyond them.
Tshengi Ndlovu is a trade and gender consultant and currently president of OWITZIMBABWE