As the world gradually eases lockdown and moves into a new norm, we begin to experience the economic impact of the global lockdown. Saving lives remain the priority of any government, even at the cost of livelihood, but one must ensure that a reasonable level of economic activity is maintained to sustain livelihood and, ultimately preserve future lives.
Preserving Livelihoods and Sustaining Lives
Some governments have announced economic measures to safeguard jobs, guarantee wages and support the self-employed while others have leveraged the use of technology to ensure business processes are continuous as measures to manage the loss of income by many across the world. Behind the adoption of various strategies to revamp the economy at this time lie the human life costs of the ease of the lockdown – lives and livelihood. Therefore, to beat the uncertainties that lie ahead, reopening will require reinvention into the ‘new norm’ that protects the health of the people, whilst protecting the economic health of Nations.
Today’s CEO and leaders across the world are faced with overwhelming, competing challenges as they continue to navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidently, the world has changed dramatically due to the pandemic that resulted in a tragically large number of human lives being lost. As Countries of the world take measures to recover the losses incurred in their GDPs, world leaders have prioritized creating a balance by supporting their people, customers and suppliers; addressing supply chain disruption, stabilizing revenues, aligning their businesses with evolving technology demands and identifying new growth pathways.
In recent weeks, there has been significant economic impact of the coronavirus on nations and their financial markets while vulnerable industries such as manufacturing, tourism, hospitality and travel have greatly been affected. Nigeria, a nation which had barely recovered from the 2014 change in oil prices has experienced about 40% decrease in GDP during the period of this lockdown. With a worrisome debt profile and with oil prices crashing down further to $38.27/barrel, the Nation is facing the worst economic challenge. Income earned by individuals and organizations (especially those offer non-essential goods/services) has declined as citizens only focused on essential products and services.
Like other countries, the UK is facing a major challenge of recession as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. It has affected the whole production capability of the country coupled with a slowdown in global demand, and concerns regarding the availability of raw material. A new survey of the corporate sector from the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggested that, by mid-April, a quarter of businesses had temporarily closed and a further 40% of firms are experiencing lower turnover, confirming that the UK was in a recession.
In the United States, the unemployment rate, which was at about 3.5% in February 2020 now stands at an uncomfortably high 14.7%, with 42 million people registered as unemployed at the beginning of June 2020. 40% of households who earn less than $14,000 have reported to have lost their jobs while 13% of households who earn less than $100,000 have also been affected. This shows that the middle-class citizens were mostly affected the most causing lots of Americans to apply for unemployment benefits.
Germany has been in recession since the beginning of 2020, contracting by 2.2%. Almost a half million companies in Germany applied to have their employees join a short-term government work in March to reduce employment that might hit the citizens should things get worse.
In an attempt to resuscitate her economy, China is currently advocating for trading firms and its food processors to increase the inventories and supply of grains and oilseeds while State-run, private grain traders and food producers have been advised to increase the production of soybeans, soy oil and corn. This is to stimulate the strength of her workforce and inclusion of both men and women to increasing revenue generation for the nation
Rebalancing the Use of Technology
With the present global situation, this is the right time for organizations to develop agile workforce strategies to keep the global economy viable and help people and their families survive financially now and in the future. Corporations can navigate massive workforce shifts, such as the urgent need to shift to a remote workforce leveraging on technology to protect and empower employees. Not only is technology making life in quarantine more livable for millions of people, but it is also helping to fight the virus. Through the use of drones; being dispatched to respond to the outbreak, across countries, tech companies are offering free online collaborative and meeting tools such as Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout and the likes to make work from home easy and many others.
History has shown that technology alongside science and mathematics has been considered a masculine course. This has led to a great gender gap in technology, since women are being excluded from that dimension. Although efforts have been made to breach the gender gap, men are still considered more important and are the major population in the field. Gender equality has however been linked to sustainable development, national productivity and economic growth. This is the more reason why women and men should be allowed to have the same economic and social participation.
Even though gender inequality has been a major discuss in technology, economy, domestic and political aspects, elaborate study, and statistical data has shown that the role of women in tech has increased where women in senior leadership positions grew from 21% to 24% between 2018 and 2019 with one out of three people in the high-tech sector being a woman. Only 40% of tech startups in the most countries in the world have at least one woman on the board of directors. With more women in technology, and corporate leadership roles it will lead to increased revenue.
Bringing more women into the technology world is a major strategy to bridge the inequality gap that currently exist to defeat this fatal pandemic for saving lives, the global economic and financial structure. Organisations must create a recruiting method that gives equal opportunity – equal opportunity for education in STEM subjects, equal contribution and income and equal opportunity in leadership in tech industries – in creating a balanced and improved economy.
The coronavirus has tested the world’s disaster preparedness and response, from public health systems to information sharing and most developed countries have a key advantage in this fight: its people and technology infrastructure.
Notwithstanding, we have to ask ourselves the following questions: How can we promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the COVID-19 recovery? What further innovative can we further adopt to save Businesses and the Economies? Are certain Countries doomed to remain emerging due of their deficient technology infrastructure? Is technology and globalization destined to bridge the gap of inequality? Is Africa catching up in the global knowledge economy or falling further behind?