Focus on private sector response to COVID-19 pandemic in Africa

I know by now you are probably sick of turning on your television and seeing the horrific statistics of people all around the globe affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. However, it is not all gloom and doom as you think. As a matter of fact, there are certain individuals and even private sector companies that have joined in the fight against COVID-19 on the African continent.

In Nigeria, banks are at the forefront of the fight against the spread of COVID-19. According to KABC, United Bank for Africa (UBA) donated a sum of N5 Billion ($13 Million) to provide beds for isolation centres, intensive care unit facilities, and also direct access to medical advice for up to 450,000 citizens daily.

UBA is additionally offering skeletal banking services to curb COVID-19 pandemic alongside other banks. According to Premium Times, Sam Nwakohu, the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), announced that banks would provide skeletal services at the Apapa ports in Lagos.

The banks operate from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily to facilitate the payments of duty on cargo.

Apart from banks, LifeBank, a Nigerian health tech logistics setup, has also made efforts to curb the pandemic. According to Technext, the health tech startup, in partnership with the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), established a mobile testing centre. The goal of this platform is to support the increase of testing efforts in Nigeria.

 

American multinational companies based in Nigeria have also pledged support in ending the pandemic. An American Business Council press release stated that Procter & Gamble had supplied its hygiene products to people in Ogun, Oyo, and Ekiti State. In addition, the company started a media campaign in the country to promote handwashing.

Kimberly Clark, in partnership with Tolaran Group, has supplied its products to the Lagos State Government to provide essentials for isolation centres.

In Kenya, the country has sought out ways to adopt digital payment methods amidst the coronavirus epidemic. According to TechCrunch, Safaricom implemented a fee-waiver on East Africa’s mobile money product, M-Pesa, in order to limit the physical exchange of money.

In addition, Safaricom announced that all person to person transactions on the app that fall under 100 Kenyan shillings would be free of charge for three months.

As for South Africa, private sector companies, such as Standard Bank, have introduced payment relief methods that would be beneficial for students and small business owners.

According to Yahoo News, Standard Bank would instate payment holidays for students and small business owners in order to ease the financial pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected South Africa massively. In other words, the bank has rescheduled loan repayments to a later date to give customers some breathing space.

Representatives from Standard Bank stated that payment relief for small businesses with turnover of less than 20 million rand ($1.1 million) would take effect as from April 1. As for students, Yahoo News reported that full-time students would also receive a payment holiday for their loans at 0% interest with zero fees effective from April 1 as well.

Although we are still stuck and confined to our homes for an indefinite period, it is important to call out and praise the companies that are making efforts to curb the pandemic with the resources they have in place. Private sector companies are definitely working to combat the problem and hopefully, their efforts will not be in vain, as we all grapple with this pandemic that has led to multiple casualties globally.

The Coronavirus may be working hard to destroy our planet, but the private sector is working harder to ensure that our world is in a safer and healthier place.

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