Four decisive priorities for East Africa’s economic recovery | The Guardian Nigeria News
By Hardeep Sound, Regional Sales Manager: East Africa at SAP
EAST AFRICA, January 12, 2021, – / African Media Agency (AMA) / – How is the East Africa region managing to fully recover from the impact of the pandemic while preparing for a more competitive and sustainable future on a global scale?
As the only region in Africa to avoid a recession in 2020, East Africa is poised to experience strong growth despite continued disruption from the pandemic.
While the exact level of threat posed by the recently discovered Omicron variant of COVID-19 remains to be seen, the reaction of the global community – travel restrictions, potential blockages – could have a severe impact on the region’s economic fortunes.
For organizations and business leaders in the region, the emergence of new unknowns and potential disruption should not distract from the urgent task of recovery after a period of almost two years exceedingly difficult.
In particular, four key priorities could enable companies to accelerate their recovery and better withstand future disruptions:
Priority 1: Digitize in a hurry
The past two years have marked a sea change in consumer behavior. In Kenya, for example, mobile money transfers increased by almost 63% in 2020 in part due to social distancing measures. Services such as banking have experienced accelerated digitization, e-commerce adoption is growing, and hybrid work models mean that most organizations have had to implement new tools to help employees work from home.
For small businesses, the impact of the pandemic has been disastrous. A survey conducted between June and August 2020 found that 62% of SMEs experienced a decline in demand, cash flow, access to credit and inputs. Ninety percent saw sales decline and one in five workers in the industry lost their job.
In Kenya, however, SMEs have increased their use of digital technology to bypass restrictions linked to the pandemic. Almost half of the country’s SMEs have increased their use of digital platforms, while 13% are investing in digital technologies.
In its most recent East African Economic Outlook, the African Development Bank advises that the region should, among other measures, “accelerate structural transformation through digitization, industrialization and diversification”.
The effective use of cloud technologies, for example, could allow businesses small and large to test new digital channels and business processes that can then be quickly scaled up to serve existing customers or reach new ones.
Priority 2: Rebuild better (and more sustainably)
In early 2020, when countries implemented strict closures and economic activity slowed, global emissions plummeted and, for a moment at least, it looked like the pandemic would be a catalyst for sustainability.
However, the data indicates that global emissions will continue to rise unless there is an urgent policy change. The recently concluded COP26 failed to inspire hope that the main emitters of greenhouse gases would suddenly change course and adopt more sustainable practices.
Climate change will have a disastrous impact on East Africa. Recent data indicates that Africa is warming faster than the global average. More heat waves and cyclones are expected to impact farming activities, while potentially pushing large locust swarms into the region, where they wreak untold havoc on farmers.
Given the importance of agriculture to the region’s economic outlook, it is essential that all economic recovery efforts take into account the potential impact on the climate.
As another of the region’s most important industries, the manufacturing sector – which currently accounts for 8.9% of East Africa’s GDP but is expected to contribute 25% by 2032 – presents a growing opportunity. it is for innovators in the region to design more sustainable processes.
By ensuring that sustainability is built into every manufacturing process, East Africa could achieve economic growth while limiting the severity of climate impact on future generations.
Third priority: eliminate uncertainty
Even before the emergence of COVID-19, the world faced unprecedented uncertainty. The continued disruption caused by new digital technologies, the accelerating pace of modern life and a rapidly changing global political landscape combined to create an environment where change was truly the only constant.
This situation is likely to continue and even be exacerbated by the pandemic, but organizations and decision-makers are not powerless. Organizations that can use data and analytics to gain a real-time, granular view of every aspect of the business can eliminate uncertainties and improve the accuracy and quality of their decisions. As the nerve center of the modern intelligent enterprise, ERP solutions provide a level of clarity and control for decision makers that is essential for effective leadership.
The integration of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning unleashes other benefits, especially in terms of optimizing business processes. Worryingly, the region lags behind the rest of the world in adopting emerging technologies, with Kenya ranking first in a recent global survey at 105 out of 158 countries.
As organizations design their post-pandemic business strategies, every effort should be made to leverage technology as a tool to reduce uncertainty while opening up opportunities for further gains in efficiency, accuracy, and identifying opportunities. completely new business models.
Priority four: Collaborate and innovate
Africa is no stranger to innovation. A WHO study found that 13% of all new or changed technology that has been developed in response to the pandemic originated in Africa.
Stimulating innovation through the effective use of new technologies promises to improve service delivery and boost productivity. As countries and industries in the region rebuild, understanding the role technology plays in innovation is critical.
The region’s exceptional track record in m-payments should serve as an inspiration.
Millions of East Africans who were previously excluded from formal banking or credit services now use mobile money services to secure lending opportunities, repay loans, and create transaction histories that can unlock money. ‘access to other formal financial services. Entire ecosystems of products and services have emerged to provide added value to mobile money users.
Today, the region is widely recognized as the world leader in mobile peer-to-peer financing.
Other areas of innovation include the region’s use of technology to improve agricultural outcomes, for example through the use of SAP’s rural supply manager, which provides smallholder farmers with weather and market data, better sales opportunities and access to new markets.
Using the levers of regional and intra-African cooperation – through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, or East African Community – could further accelerate the rate at which new innovations spread. a country or region to the rest of the continent.
Through continued collaboration among African nations, the region and the continent could accelerate the reconstruction of their economies while opening up a multitude of new opportunities.
Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of SAP Africa.
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