COVID-19 is the name that the World Health Organization gave to Coronavirus Disease 2019 — a pneumonia like viral and infectious disease caused by Novel Coronavirus.
Via this open discussion that was held online through a digital video conferencing technology, economic analyst Teddy Kaberuka, the speaker, discussed with the moderator Mr. Jean-Claude Muhire, FES Program Coordinator and the audience.
They discussed the influence of COVID-19 for unemployment rates in East Africa, on how it would affect the ongoing Free Trade discussions on the continent and what could be the lessons after the crisis for regional integration and international cooperation.
Tackling COVID-19 in Africa, an initial analysis of the economic impact attributed to COVID-19, by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, has estimated that Africa’s GDP growth in 2020 could be cut by 3 to 8 percentage points.
This analysis released this April 2020, projects that Africa’s economies could experience a loss of between $90 billion and $200 billion in 2020 because of COVID-19 pandemic, and tip Africa into an economic contraction in 2020 in the absence of major fiscal stimulus.
All participants in the Digital Friday Breakfast event were very excited to share their views and asked questions relating to the main topic: “COVID-19: Which Impact has the new Corona virus on Regional Integration and the Economic Development in East-Africa?”
One female participant of Digital Friday Breakfast audience wondered whether this economic crisis may lead to serious conflict of interests. She expressed worry that loans and donations which East Africa and African continent in general has to rely on to be able to deal with COVID-19 could be a trap that may cause many African countries' economy to shrink.
"What would you propose to the Private Sector (PSF) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) for better management of this issue?” she asked to the economist Kaberuka.
Another participant wanted to know what fiscal policies the economist recommends to be developed so that Rwanda and the region can curb the dire consequences of this pandemic on their economy.In his answers and presentation, Mr. Teddy Kaberuka, said that if nothing is done the entire World’s economy would shrink.
Indeed, experts indicate that the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the entire world. Researchers all over the globe are searching for a vaccination and for effective drugs to cure the new disease.
Governments, civil society organizations and Trade Unions are trying to develop measurements and answers for social protection, employment and continuously international and regional cooperation.
In a bid to tackle the pandemic, Kaberuka advised citizens to stay home and government to help them with some basic necessities
“In short term the Government should support vulnerable people to get necessities during the lockdown. There are also additional related financial needs including paying their rents because they lost their income,” said Kaberuka.
The Digital Friday Breakfast came from the organized EPRN-FES ‘Friday Breakfast on economy and regional integration’ which is regularly held on a monthly basis.
It brings together experts, participants from Media Houses who are interested in the topics and have a focus on Economy, trade and regional integration.
For this time, it was digitalized as a way of respecting the social distancing protocol that is advised by the World Health Organization to prevent Covid-19 from spreading.
The idea of the “Friday /breakfast on Economy and Regional Integration is to link economic questions with Social Protection and Good Governance, inform journalists on different topics related to Regional Integration and Economy, increase the awareness on international debates, bring experts together by creating a space to discuss relevant issues and current topics and create a well-informed network of Rwandan Journalists.
Globally, there are over 1.1 million cases of COVID-19, while more than 60,000 people have died from this pandemic, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University (3rd of April 2020)— a research university based in the United States of America which tracks confirmed COVID-19 cases