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Rodrigue Fouafou, entrepreneur et start up investor- Intervention à l'Afro Tech Talk Abidjan mars 2020-DR
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Tribune The Impact of Covid-19 in Africa a Chance for Tech-Innovators

At a time when global economies are weighed down by the Covid-19 pandemic, questions arise about the consequences for Africa. Rodrigue Fouafou, Camero-Canadian, entreprenor, startup investor and business mentor, Tech specialist in Africa, sees opportunities. The opportunity to unleash the potential of Africa. 

 

The Coronavirus is not only a public health emergency. It also poses a significant threat to the world’s economy. It’s already caused Global stock markets to crash, raising fears of a recession.

So far, Africa has escaped the scale of infection seen in other parts of the world.

But does that mean it will also ‘Escape The Economic Consequences’ of the pandemic? The answer is almost certainly no. African countries trade more with the rest of the world than they do with each other for example China, the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak.

It is Africa’s biggest trading partner and China’s economy has been severely disrupted; factories have been closed, many international flights are suspended, and workers placed in lockdown. Suddenly African Traders, used to flying back and forth to buy Chinese goods, can’t get hold of the stock they need.

However, it is not all dark and gloom for Africa. Covid-19 will expose gaps in the African tech space for problem-solving entrepreneurs and innovators to take advantage.

This global pandemic will stimulate the following innovations :

 

  • Create African Solutions to uniquely African challenges
Digitising Health in Africa

Chaos creates opportunity, and a sense of urgency creates change and paradigm shifts.

Already, many African existing and newly created Tech Startups have been involved in Coronavirus fights (prevention, diagnostics, precautious, tracking, educating, etc…).

Alivo Startup au Benin, Healthline (formerly GiftedMom) in Cameroon, is helping provide solutions in the fight against the spread of Coronavirus.

 

Diagnose Me is a digital platform enabling the identification, management and real-time monitoring of cases suspected of having coronavirus disease

 

Also, in Nigeria, Ventures Platforms partnered with the Lagos State Government through its agency, The Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC), in a bid to find tech-enabled solutions to address the current Covid-19 pandemic.

The Collaboration will provide rapid operational assistance to the selected teams and startups.

Some Of the critical innovations in Africa post-covid-19 will include;

  1. E-Health
  2. EduTech
  3. E-commerce
  4. Digital Solutions and many more

Another venture platform playing a significant role in the fight against Covid-19 is “ALIVO Startup au Benin, Healthline (formerly GiftedMom) in Cameroon.”

African governments with local and international players are launching campaigns to select potential technology solutions that can help fight the spread of Covid-19 in Africa.

Covid-19 will likely expose the healthcare infrastructure challenge in Africa.

The crisis is an excellent opportunity for Africans to speed up the growth of local and intra-African innovation ecosystems and improve health systems and technologies.

 

  • It presents a level playing field for global solutions.

 

The disruption of global supply chains is set to skyrocket the prices of food and other essential goods for high import African countries. Therefore, African entrepreneurs have a unique opportunity to prove their readiness to innovate and take full advantage of this unique chance in the market.

This can be done by enabling local tech ecosystems, create healthcare startups, biotechnology projects and e-government solutions.

While e-commerce and e-learning are gaining momentum in Africa, governments will be urged to go digital and offer most public services online, which will stimulate local demand for tech solutions, increase consumer spending and launch a new wave of economic growth post Covid-19

Price increases in Africa due to Covid-19 could lead to more investment in local agritech startups, small scale processing and manufacturing, food waste management and nutrition solutions, creative technologies and media, and home-based gig jobs.

Apart from the various opportunities for building tech and digital startups to solve social problems, the crisis demonstrates the importance of fully implementing the “African Continental Free-Trade Agreement” (AfCFTA) as a mechanism to build resistance and long-term management of volatility.

AfCFTA is calling for an increase in intra-African trade of pharmaceutical and essential products, as well as technology transfer and adaptation. This is a required  response to the pandemic, which is having  severe financial and social Consequences for African countries.

Entrepreneurs are encouraged to leverage the incentives for importers of food to secure purchases abroad and ensure sufficient reserves of essential commodities.

 

  • Digital and Virtual is the new norm
Afro Tech Talk Cotonou January 2020

 

Africa Digital means to build, invest in Africa Infrastructure. I’m happy to be part of the experts on the Africa 50 Innovation Challenge backed by the African Development Bank called Last Mile Connectivity.

The aim of the organization is to significantly increase access to affordable and reliable high-speed Internet in under-served areas in Africa.

Recent World Bank studies show that an additional 10% Internet penetration can lift GDP by 1-4% in developing countries and that African firms using the Internet are nearly four times as productive per employee as those that do not.

As most African countries affected by Covid-19 enforce lockdown to restrict movement, schools have been closed, and workers in non-critical industries forced to stay home. There has never been a more higher demand for virtual work from home across the continent.

“A New Virtual Africa” will be reborn; that’s why several African distance learning platforms will accelerate their growth, asserting themselves. Adamou Diawara, founder of the Virtual University from Mali sets a standard on the spot.

Microsoft and Zoom the two significant solutions in this space have recently reported a global increase in traffic, and this includes Africa, where affected countries continue to be in total lockdown.

This has led to a sudden surge in demand for work from home solutions.

This is the best time for Africa to implement the use of data science, AI, and blockchain technology in solving the economic realities post Covid-19. Digital economies have a good chance of significant growth during this crisis.

Small businesses have a unique chance to go online and use already existing technologies like WhatsApp, Facebook marketplace, and other similar solutions to increase revenue while providing platforms for people to shop during lockdown times.

  • It reinforces Africa as the youthful continent


Afro Tech Talk Abdijan February 2020

 

Africa has the most youthful population in the world, and it’s growing fast. By 2055, the continent’s youth population (aged 15-24), is expected to be more than double the 2015 total of 226 million.

Africa’s young population means faster adoption of new technologies and innovations.

 

To conclude, Covid-19 is an unprecedented event, one that happens once every 2 or 3 generations. The last time such a global health crisis occurred was in 1918 during the Spanish flu outbreak.

As an entrepreneur, this presents a unique, rare opportunity for innovation, creativity, and invention.

This will enable a strong collaboration, partnership, consolidation of Incubators, Accelerators, Tech Hub, Diaspora organizations, Angels Investors, VCs, Events, Media, Innovation Centers. Even a merger between startups. The objective of this tech ecosystem is to contribute solutions that solve immediate problems as the world and Africa are crippled by this pandemic.

Talk about making the best out of a bad situation; this chance will probably never come again in your lifetime. So the time is now to play your part in advancing tech in Africa and moving the continent forward together.

Ce message est également disponible en : French