Africa now counts over 2.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which roughly 2 million people have been able to recover. Unfortunately, we have registered over 55 300 deaths due to the pandemic. The African Union Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is notifying a “worrying increase” in reporting an estimated 10,000 new cases daily.
These figures from the CDC are the most evident and tragic direct human impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. What is not yet entirely visible is the economic impact, and in addition to that, the socio-economic effects this pandemic brings to our communities.
The health crisis is unfolding to become a global economic crisis with significant humanitarian side effects for Africa. The pandemic and the subsequent measures taken by Governments across the continent are already disrupting the livelihoods of millions of people; the consequences are already more drastic on low-income households, SMEs and informal sector business operators. Many natural-resource rich countries in Africa are facing a double drawback as the oil prices keeps collapsing.
Depending on which scenario is applied, the GDP growth contraction projected by the AfDB could result in 30 million job losses and an increase in the number of Africans in extreme poverty by 34 million to 49.2 million in 2021. In 2021, GDP losses could amount to between $27.6 billion and $47 billion in USD terms, adding towards losses experienced in 2020. AU Member States with flourishing markets in tourism, global trade and commodity exports may be affected.
The situation very clearly shows that the indirect socio-economic effects are not yet fully visible and will strongly affect export-dependent economies and small-medium sized, informal businesses.
Since the beginning of the crisis on the continent, AUDA-NEPAD’s position has been that Africa does not have the luxury to afford a complete lockdown. We cannot quarantine poverty; we must, by all means possible, protect vulnerable livelihoods. Investing in sustainable infrastructure as a critical input for economic recovery and as a public service to communities is one of the ways to deliver that goal.
As the institution tasked to strengthen the capacity of African economies, we believe that one viable policy option to mitigate the unfolding socio-economic consequences is to promote necessary service delivery through small scale infrastructure development and Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (SMEs).
Besides improvements in quality of life due to access to water, electricity or internet/communications services, infrastructure directly effects second tier improvements such as investment, employment and ultimately drives household income generation. That is why the AUDA-NEPAD has positioned infrastructure development as a critical driver for socio-economic recovery.
I am pleased to announce that through the AUDA-NEPAD Continental Business Network (CBN) and our Service Delivery Mechanism for project preparation (SDM), we are launching a Call for Proposals for all Small-Medium Sized Enterprises and Non-Governmental Organizations from all the AU members’ States to submit small scale infrastructure project proposals for further Technical Advisory and Market Packaging. In this way, AUDA-NEPAD will assist successful SMEs to make an impact in our communities by preparing them to access financing for their projects.
This Call for proposals is aligned with the urgent need for a multi-stakeholder approach, and public-private collaboration to address the 21st-century global challenges. Indeed, the Covid-19 pandemic is a transboundary crisis and can only be effectively solved through regional cooperation instruments.
In an era where multilateralism seems to be tested, AUDA-NEPAD, as the technical interface with all Africa’s development stakeholders and development partners, will be at the forefront thereof. The Call for proposal is the fruit of longstanding cooperation with the Federal Government of Germany teamed through its development agency, GIZ.
I particularly call upon vibrant and entrepreneurial women in the SME sector and NGOs to apply. Interested parties can download or submit their applications until the 20th of December 2020.