The novel coronavirus which has caused COVID-19, a disease the World Health Organization has declared as a pandemic that can engulf the whole world is rapidly eroding the economic gains of most of the affected countries. It can be traced as back as November, 17th 2019 but has been common in March, 2020, where cases are pronounced in China, Spain, Germany, Italy etc. the world’s most economical countries. Since then, COVID-19 has found its way into other countries across the globe, notably, American and Africa on continental basis.
One will hardly understand the means of fast spreading of this disease when it is human-human contacts that ease transfer of the deadly disease. Not forgetting the webbed global economy, that comes with different means of traveling and transportation, different goods and services or diplomatic relations that exist among countries across the globe, the reason for the fast spread will not be farfetched.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, several productive lives have been lost, numerous income generation activities (Sports, movements of goods) have been halted, traveling have been banned in most of these affected countries as means of minimizing the spread of the disease.
Ghana’s case is not an exception since the disease has been able to find its way into the country through its tight and screened borders from Turkey and Norway. On 13th day of March, 2020, the Government of the Republic of Ghana confirmed to the citizenry, the ‘importation’ of COVID-19 into the country as said by the Director of Public Health Dr. Badu Sarkodie affirmed by Hon Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the minister of information. From two reported cases, four more cases were confirmed by 15th March, 2020 leading to the health alarm in the county. Since the president second address on COVID-19 to the state, most economic activities in the country have frozen or stopped completely. Schools have been closed, traveling Outside the country have been banned, funerals and other social gatherings have been discouraged.
If one will take time to think of the effect of these measures, the impact on the economy will be key. Since schools have closed, it’s clear that all food vendors, shop owners and other people into businesses on the various campuses of the schools irrespective of the level of education will be sitting idle pending the return of the students.
Also, Schools have to take measures to avoid disruption of the academic calendar especially the universities. For example, Ashesi university has resorted to online teaching and learning for the rest of the semester hence the high cost of internet on students, a burden that maybe difficult for some students.
Tro-tro and taxi drivers who operate on campuses are forced to lay down their tools since their customers are vacated. This is going to reduce their income generation hence a burden on them.
In our various market places, people will avoid going to the market as a way to prevent getting the disease. This is going to affect income generation, taxation and tolls across the country. For institutions where workers will work from home, new technology have to be developed to match that. The effect of COVID-19 on tourism and other hospitality services in Ghana is going to be mega.
For those who deal with figures, they can hastily think that the outbreak of COVID-19 will stabilize the local currency or will compel us to resort to locally produced products hence a means to be self-reliant. It is not of a common sense to think this way since the local currency stability is due to freeze in the world market, closed businesses and transactions, locked up goods for importers. Thinking of self-reliance amidst COVID-19, let me assume that the way COVID-19 found its way into Ghana, it’s the same way imports by foreign companies can be allowed over local business.
The rate at which the disease spreads alone deters people from moving out of their homes to do their private works especially in the case of Ghana where the number of contacts have been rated to be high and difficult tracing since detections wasn’t done at the ports or point of entries but in the heart of the country; Obuasi and Accra. These infested people are high profile persons from their respective countries who in one way or the other might have interacted with Government officials in fulfilment of their obligations to their visit to the country.
It’s becoming overly worrisome as people are raising eyebrows over the safety of the commander in chief of the Ghana Armed Forces (the president of the republic) since he returned from countries where the first two confirmed cases were reported to come from and also passed through the normal screening these affected persons did at the airports. The Government’s failure to demarcate places of high risk in the country is going to affect the movement of people even at places there is low chances of it occurring.
Government have secured an emergency 100 million dollars for adequate preparations towards containing COVID-19. The confidence of the Ghanaian can only be restored if this amount is used to carry out practical public education across the length and breadth of Ghana.
It is key to note that our rural communities are the sources of our food and they are part of the customers to the markets in the towns. Imagine they go to markets to see shop attendants in mask and gloves and they are exposed. I don’t imagine they will go the next day. In as much as we educate people in the towns and cities, there is the need to extend our tentacles to reach the vulnerable in many a rural community.
To reduce the bad economic impact of the pandemic, protocols for trading and economic transactions should be adopted to ensure that business goes on as we fight the ghost disease.
Ghana can end it at 7 cases if we eschew political mischief and enhance communication across the country.
Source: KUNSAARI A. ENBONG