Hope springs eternal
Covid-19’s impact on Africa has been severe, as it has been across the globe. However, hope springs eternal, writes Leon Louw, founder and editor of WhyAfrica.
As the world moves into 2022 with new hope, it does so with caution as Covid-19 continues its devastating march across the globe. Africa has not escaped the pandemic’s most severe impacts. Hesitancy and limited access to vaccines have resulted in low vaccination rates in all African countries. Moreover, the economic impact of lockdowns, the closure of borders, and logistic difficulties have hampered growth and development in all African regions. Shipping and freight bottlenecks have made it extremely difficult for the supply chain to fire on all cylinders, and the uncertainty remains.
Despite the coronavirus and its economic outfall, business in Africa continued its day- to-day grind. Doing business in Africa has always been a boom-and-bust affair. The risks are high, and the future is unpredictable. However, the possibility of extremely high rewards makes it worth the effort.
Opportunities abound across Africa
Notwithstanding the pandemics disruptive impacts on the world’s economy, a post Covid-19 world looks more and more positive for Africa as investors search for growth and diversification. Africa has a lot to offer. The rich mineral deposits of countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Zambia, South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, Botswana, and Zimbabwe are well known.
A focus on green energy has further strengthened Africa’s position. Battery minerals and metals like cobalt, nickel, copper, lithium, rare earth elements, platinum, rhodium, and palladium are found in abundance throughout Africa. The governments of most countries hosting these deposits continue working on ways that will make their countries more attractive to do business in. Nevertheless, challenges remain, and business often becomes the victim of political strive.
An enormous infrastructure backlog and underdevelopment of especially the agricultural, energy, mining, and tourism sectors, prevent the continent from reaching her full potential. But in these challenges lie the many opportunities that Africa offers. Extensive, well-functioning road and rail networks, efficient port facilities, sufficient energy, clean water, and proper housing will go a long way in solving Africa’s problems. This requires uncapped investment. But most of all, it requires responsible investment where progress is monitored daily, and impacts evaluated comprehensively.
Development should not take place at the expense of African people and their environment. Development must improve living conditions, and build systems that enhances the natural environment, and not destroy it. Biodiversity and natural beauty are Africa’s greatest assets and must be nurtured and protected. Africa will feel the brunt of the climate change sting, and the continent needs to prepare for a net-zero future. Through technology and innovation, the continent will go from strength to strength, despite what often appears as insurmountable challenges.
So, here’s to 2022! A year of hope and trust and gratitude. Let’s all pull together and make it Africa’s year. Let’s talk less and do more. Let’s be innovative, creative, and committed to our mother continent and her children. They deserve it.
Leon Louw is the founder and editor of WhyAfrica. He specialises in natural resources and African affairs.
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