#OurNatureOurHealth Campaign Explores the Impact of COVID-19 on Africa's Economy

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On August 26, 2020, African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Biodiversity Alliance (ACBA) organized a webinar on the economic effects of COVID-19 in Africa. ACBA is a group that brings together like-minded CSOs in Africa intending to define Africa’s position to the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) alongside other organizations attended the discussion aimed at deepening our understanding of the harsh economic effects of the pandemic across three different regions in Africa.

This second webinar focused on discussing the impact of coronavirus on Africa’s economy. Moderated by Ms. Msweli, the diverse panelists drawn from three regions were: Mr. Khaya Sithole, an Independent Analyst from South Africa, Mr. Waleed Hatim, CEO and Co-founder of Airgiftr in Egypt and Mr. Mohammed Hersi, Chairman of the Kenya Tourism Federation.

“Businesses that have been directly affected should restructure their assets, diversify revenue streams, cut costs that won’t affect operations, have as many contingency plans as possible and leverage partners to grow together,” said Mr. Waleed Hatim.

Tourism is one of the major sectors that has been greatly affected by the pandemic in Africa. For example, Kenya has lost close to 80 billion shillings worth of business which amounts to almost 70 percent of the tourism revenue. This sector contributes to nearly 12.5 percent of the country’s GDP and creates both direct and indirect benefits. The situation is no different in South Africa, where the COVID-19 pandemic has facilitated the loss of economic participation and opportunity. These losses are expected to be long-term and, in the worst-case scenario, permanent.

“It is up to all of us to a carry a torch of hope and start embracing the new normal while practicing caution. Domestic tourism is one of the key strategies that we have put in place to help the tourism sector recover in Kenya and our citizens are our biggest ambassadors and that is what we are investing in,” Mr. Mohammed Hersi, Chairman of the Kenya Tourism Federation emphasized.

Going forward, the panelists as well as the participants agreed that Africa needs to rethink the alternative sustainable economic practices that will not only act as a source of livelihood cushion but will also prevent the next pandemic.

“This pandemic has opened conversations around reviving Africa’s economy post-COVID-19. With the pinch felt across various if not all sectors, the recovery plans must then include the protection of our natural resources and build upon our united approach as a continent,” said Mr. Khaya Sithole.