Experts Push for Strong Public-Private Partnerships to Build Resilient Post-Covid-19 Economies

10 December 2020

Addis Ababa — Experts have called for strong collaboration between the public and private sectors in Africa to strengthen economies in the post-COVID-19 period. They believe this will help recover quickly from the pandemic and withstand similar future shocks.

They were speaking during the session titled, "Building resilient economies post-COVID-19: The role of institutions, private sector, and development partners (AfDB)", on the sidelines of the African Economic Conference (AEC) 2020 virtual event.

This session brought together representatives of public institutions, the private sector, and development partners to discuss the best practices and lessons on how to build resilient economies post-COVID-19.

"African economies need to improve the business environment for the private-public partnership to thrive, while also applying African solutions for African problems to accelerate economic recovery in the post-COVID-19 period," said Amit Thakker, Chairman of the African Health Business Federation.

He added that both the public and private sectors need to work together to channel greater investment towards economic and social infrastructure, saying that "both hands are better than one", if African economies are to build future resilience.

According to Thakker, the continent's economies need to work on the strategy of universal health coverage, removing the hardship of accessing health services among citizens.

Speaking at the session, Emmanuel Nnadozie, Executive Secretary, African Capacity Building Foundation in Harare, Zimbabwe, said that strong public-private partnerships would overcome Africa's capacity building gaps in institutions and human resources.

"There is a need for African governments and development partners to invest in human and institutional capacity and support policy dialogue and formulation in line with building strong and resilient economies in post-COVID-19 across the continent," he said.

Nnadozie called for the promotion of the spirit of ownership and African solidarity as the continent's countries forge partnerships with multilateral institutions to create strong and stable economies.

Abdu Mukhtar, Director, Industrial and Trade Development, African Development Bank (AfDB), said that the role of multilateral institutions is paramount as African countries embark on building resilient economies post the pandemic.

He highlighted the AfDB's support to member countries and the private sector to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, referring to the US$10-billion Response Facility that was created by the bank in April this year.

"The African Development Bank is doing a lot to support Africa to build economic resilience in the face of COVID-19 and post the pandemic. We are committed to ensure that infrastructure gaps in the areas of railway transport system, roads and electricity, are addressed in Africa," Mukhtar said.

He added that the bank is supporting public-private partnerships in the post COVID-19 recovery, saying that these will fill investment gaps that arise due to a lack of enough resources to finance the recovery of African economies.

Another expert, Lemma W. Senbet, Chair Professor of Finance and former Director of the Center for Financial Policy, University of Maryland, emphasized the role of knowledge and innovation in building resilient economies.

He noted that there are huge capacity and knowledge gaps in Africa that need to be closed as countries focus on working to recover from COVID-19.

AEC2020, themed "Africa beyond COVID-19: accelerating towards inclusive sustainable development" is hosted by the African Development Bank, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The virtual conference has brought together various stakeholders, including policymakers and researchers, to examine the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 and measures to mitigate and recover from the pandemic.

By Frank Kanyesigye

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