The African ICT Foundation, (AfICTF) has advocated for more information technology interventions to tackle the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic even as most parts of Africa continue to ease several lockdown protocols instituted by African governments.
AfICTF also tasked start-ups on the need to define strategies that are adaptable to current realities and at the same time, establish guidelines for the post-COVID-19 period.
In a webinar hosted by the foundation on ‘Post-COVID-19 Recovery Map for Africa’s MSMES,’ a member of the Board of Trustee (BOT), Mr. Oludare Akinbo while speaking on the “Impact of COVID-19 on the African Health Sector and the way Forward,” stressed the need for the encouragement of investors and other private donors to invest in health infrastructure in Africa.
He stated that COVID-19 has created an impact on the African health sector affecting health workers, the average Africans, infrastructure and finance as well as the patients.
Akinbo noted that there was already increased cost of care and heightened risk in the health sectors across countries in the continent, adding that the sector needs infrastructure and financing.
While expressing concern about the heavy toll on healthcare providers as well as the increased cost of care and risk to health, Akinbo called for improved and collaborative healthcare financing including increased Investment on infrastructure and basic healthcare.
He disclosed that the pandemic has exposed the need for proactive Healthcare System and the need for good Primary Health Care in Africa.
Also speaking at the webinar, Second Vice President, African ICT Foundation, Racheal Orumor, in a presentation, ‘Beyond COVID-19: African Startups Persistence Strategy,’ urged startups to note that cessation of activities has been worrisome for most promoters, and they are unwilling to keep up with investment.
According to her, startups are facing many difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that the crisis period is widening with its duration still indefinite.
To survive this period, she suggested for startups, collaborative work and social interaction as key elements for the development of innovative ideas.
Orumor observed that the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced team efficiency for start-ups and that the crisis has made in-presence collaborative work to be suppressed or reduced while most non-tech startups are now faced with the decision of choosing the adequate and cost-efficient soft tool.
She further noted that for start-ups, customer engagement is dropping, particularly in Africa where most of them depend on in-presence engagement with their potential customers and clients.
While describing the drop in customer engagement as a setback caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, she also noted that for start-ups business, digital identity is still a challenge in Africa since trustworthiness is mostly established via physical contact.
Orumor who is also the Startup Innovation Consultant at the International Francophone Organisation and Chief Executive Officer of Soft Digital, Republic of Benin, disclosed that the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are creating new needs and forcing consumers to favour certain types of services over others.
She suggested that a start-up wishing to offer its services in this period of the crisis must, therefore, adapt to doorstep delivery which has its own complexities that varies from one customer to the other.
According to her, these start-up guidelines and strategies for the post- COVID-19 period are critical noting that “start-ups should consider offering more attractive terms for potential promoters such as angels investors or venture capitalists who have the capital to invest in the current environment.”
On how to find financial support during this crisis period, Orumor urged start-ups to look in the direction of institutions offering special COVID-19 loans and grants to help businesses in different countries.
She, however, said that the criteria for getting funding approval may vary from country to country, adding that start-ups should contact designated institutions in their country for more information.