Kampala 14th April 2020, President Y. K Museveni has announced the extension of the lockdown period for another three weeks or (21 days) up to 5th May 2020. And hopefully, by then the country shall be free of this pandemic and open on 6th May 2020. Without a vaccine yet, no one wants to take chances.
The way the coronavirus has caused causalities in developed nations – specifically in the United States and Europe – Uganda’s President is right to err on the side of prevention through social distancing which has so far proved effective worldwide in reducing the fast spread of the virus. There is no rush in opening the country only to go into a deadly disaster considering the poorly developed health sector that characterizes all African countries.
If the Ministry of Health reports are true, which we do believe to be true, Uganda is one of the countries that is reporting few cases and causalities thanks to the quick Presidential Directives to lock down the country and management of the suspected cases.
Though the continued lockdown could prove catastrophic for the economy in terms of increasing unemployment, the collapse of small businesses due to fixed costs like rent and salaries, contract frustrations and potential revenue losses at individual company level and overall loss of tax revenue to run the government, it is the best decision in the circumstances considering the available alternatives. It is better to worry about how much the economy could lose than to worry about so many people dying helplessly!
We have seen what it means confronting the virus after it has penetrated the population means –chaos due to overwhelmed medical facilities and workers; crisis management of the victims, and loss of human life which cannot be recovered!
I thank Government for the swift decisions. We pray that an economic stimulus strategy is also being drawn by the Government’s Covid19 Economic Task Force to address both short-term liquidity challenges to businesses and long-term impact to facilitate business and government continuity. Already, businesses were contracting even before #covid19. Now with the world’s countries, top cities and business partners in lockdown, the economic problem could be dire. Tourism, which brings ’free money’ for people pay to see the country’s top destinations, is at an all-time low! This is a huge loss of revenue.
On a good note, this covid19 pandemic is making all of us wake up to new realities:
- Maybe we do not need those fancy offices in tall buildings – we could work well from home and save fixed costs. Companies should start considering remote working policies and invest in tools and capabilities to enable this to happen. Companies and organizations that are going to optimize from remote working stand to gain a competitive edge over the rest – imagine a company with over 90% of her staff busy working and delivering value and another where the staff are just seated and not adding value! By the time 21 days are over, the company shall be far behind the competition
- Some assets add more value than others – instead of investing in fancy office spaces, companies must now prioritize fast internet access, secure remote connectivity for workers, quality devices that are portable like laptops instead of desktops. That way, staff can work from any place. Going forward, these are capabilities that must be given priority. Most important, making your home comfortable to live is the best investment as this covid19 lockdown has shown.
- Embracing technology – covid19 has helped fast track technology adoption in the world by almost more than 2 years. So many people were not IT savvy – -they did not know about online education or virtual conferencing. Some of my clients had invested in the virtual meeting facilities which they had never used! Thanks to Covid19, meetings are now being held virtually. This is outstanding. I have so far attended about 30 meetings virtually. And for us consultants, this covid19 is giving us global opportunities to win. Five of my clients are now being managed via virtual options.
As I see it, the world must start preparing to live with #covid19 as a way of life. It is likely going to become like Malaria or HIV/AIDS. We hope a vaccine can be found earlier so that we can resume our lives back to normal.
Stay home. Stay safe.
Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.