The world has more than likely been changed forever by the new Corona Virus. This may not be so bad. For the Pan African World, and the so-called “Global South” in particular, the brave new world that will emerge may present opportunities for a brand-new paradigm.
Things may likely not return to normal anywhere in the world any time soon, and that includes in the economically dominant super-powers of Europe and North America. The United States and Europe will likely spiral into new economic downtowns the likes of which we have likely not seen before. China meanwhile may emerge as the new economic super-power, having seemingly stemmed the spread of the virus within its borders.
However, nations across the Pan-African world where the virus has still not yet spread as widely still have the opportunity to stem the spread by heeding lessons learned from the current hotspots including widespread testing, face covering and general hygiene.
In addition to stemming the spread of the virus, African nations in particular have the opportunity to invent a brand-new paradigm for their own economies. With the usual reliance on western nations and China now at a standstill, African nations must now develop new ways of providing food, healthcare and other services for their populations in the current environment while also ensuring that they are laying down an infrastructure for the continuation of that in the future.
This they must do by nationalizing and commandeering factories and manufacturing plants, particularly those owned by foreign entities to provide the needed medical supplies in particular to treat Covid 19 and ensure self-reliance as well as food and other basics of daily living. They should immediately forthwith halt all payments to the shylocks that are the Bretton Woods institutions that are the IMF and the World Bank as well as vulture western banks and re-direct those funds towards their own populations.
The so called “third world” world countries of Africa contain the needed raw materials that drive international commerce and industry, and this would be the time to halt all unfair trade in these most necessary raw materials, and start demanding both fair prices for raw materials and fair wages for the workers who extract them.
We now live in one globalized world where pretty much everything costs the same wherever you go, all except African labor and African products. A cup of coffee costs the same in a fancy coffee shop in any of Nairobi’s malls such as Java, as it does in Starbucks, but yet the workers in both these institutions could not have more divergent life realities as a result f their wildly different salaries.
Food, basic products, internet data and financial transactions do not cost any less for Africans than they do for the rest of the world and oftentimes consumer products are even double and triple the prices in Africa. Africans pay the highest data costs for internet connectivity of anyone in the world. This old unequal and unfair paradigm must be smashed once and for all and this period presents just that opportunity.
Of course such a reality can only be brought about by a leadership that is forward thinking and innovative and while that is sadly lacking in much of the global south, there do exist some visionary leaders such as Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and South Africa’s Julius Malema. The lack of a visible leadership however must not prevent the promotion and promulgation of these ideas. Young people and a brave new leadership must emerge out of the rest of Africa and these ideas must permeate and propagate until they become a reality.
Would a new economic super-power in China support or a least not prevent this new paradigm from emerging? Will an America and Europe distracted by the new realities presented by the combined fights against the corona-virus as well as struggling economies stand aside and allow a self a reliant Africa to emerge? That will remain to be seen, but undoubtedly, the opportunity exists at this very moment!