LAWYARD DIALOGUE SERIES
On Saturday, 20th of June, 2020, we held the first edition of the Lawyard Dialogue Series, which was tagged- “Mapping Africa’s Road to Prosperity.”
The discussion with our panelists was aimed at helping lawyers and the general public gain more insight into the relevant legal and policy measures in place as well as recommendations to address the impact of Covid-19 on the economy, businesses, and investment in Nigeria and Africa. The Covid19 pandemic has affected countries and this has forced world leaders to put various measures and policies in place in order to cushion its impact on economies, businesses and other areas.
Speaking on the overview and projection of new Policy measures to attract and retain investment amidst the pandemic, Mr Emeka Offor who is the Director of Strategic Communications at the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission; in his presentation, stated that the IMF had projected the pandemic would “have a global impact” and “there would be recession in most parts of the world”. He also stated that the only economies which would be able to withstand this harsh reality would be economies in developing Asia. He also offered insight on what possible measures the country could take in trying to ensure reduce the economic strain. He further stated that the dependence on oil would no longer be a smart way to go and the development of regional production hubs would become more crucial for a nation that wants to succeed and excel.
Furthermore, It would seem that some sectors have witnessed a level of growth and enhanced attractiveness as a result of the pandemic. “Our analysis suggests that some sectors have become more attractive than others as a result of the pandemic”. Sectors such as renewable energy and sectors driven by disruptive digital technologies like e-commerce, fin-tech, edu-tech and health tech have had enhanced attractiveness “because these sectors require usage of technology; and this has helped to bypass some of the frustrations that non usage of technology would usually bring”.
Miss Oluwatosin Ojo, a Managing Partner at Verboheit Consulting; in her presentation on Economic strategies that may be considered by national and sub national governments in response to the pandemic, highlighted the global and local effects of the pandemic. According to her, reports and indications have shown a decline in trade leading to job losses. The disruption in supply chain which was occasioned by the fact that China, which happens to be a general market for most of the world’s imports also doubled as the epicenter of the outbreak and had initiated lockdown measures which grounded economic activities within the country and among countries of the world. She also stated that the pandemic has shown how dense our healthcare sector is, and more attention should be paid to the sector, moving forward. However, with a thorough mapping of the entire value chain, so as to identify opportunity areas and comparative advantage would help to design and establish policies which would help the sector in recovery.
Adetola Onayemi, who is the Head, Trade Remedies & Assistant Chief Negotiator at the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN), addressed the issue of Policy measures introduced by African governments in response to the pandemic and the impact of the AFCTA. He stated that a balance between “what’s happening in the global economy, what is possible and what needs to be done, must be struck”. This would assist African governments in making policies which would consider a short and long term effect of the pandemic on trade and development.
While he stated that companies, like DHL who have had to resort to force majeure claims, and have taken a big hit, and the “ $9trillion dollars (in palliatives) spent by governments around the world as at 18th of June, 2020”, seems to be the beginning of the spending.
He also addressed the issue of dependence of oil. Government has “paid so much attention on taxation from oil.” He however noted that a diversification would go a long way to help the economy get back on its feet when everything is over.
This is the first of many episodes as we try to trace down what possible measures African countries can adopt to soften the blow on various sectors of their country’s’ development. This episode was moderated by Winifred Odonye, a Private Sector Consultant at the World Bank, and it is the first of many steps to take as we usher in a new normal in the overall well-being of nations across the globe.
You can watch the full webinar session by clicking the link here – https://youtu.be/cS62w7r2aC0