Mrs Graça Machel urges global leaders to play a part in guiding Covid-19 recovery and reconstruction agenda and implementation of policies that will ensure the interests of all citizens are included.
Mrs Machel said this during the Bloomberg New Economy Forum, which took place on 19th November 2020. The Forum brought together world leaders to discuss and propose solutions to some of the most pressing issues currently facing the global economy.
Mrs Machel joined Aliko Dangote, President of Dangote Industries Limited and Strive Masiyiwa, Founder of ECONET Group on a panel themed Saving Lives and Livelihoods in Africa. They discussed important issues around the health crisis and economic contraction grappling Africa as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns. They discussed how the global community can come together to ensure that Covid-19 vaccines and treatments reach every country on the continent to ensure that nobody is left behind. She also commended private sectors for showing great interest in leading on Covid- 19 responses.
“Without the support of the private sector supporting heads of states, we would not be where we are. It is essential to tell the world what Africans have done for themselves, of course, with the connection and support from the rests of the world “. She added that this is a strong message eluding to why it was a possibility that Africa did not reach high numbers of COVID deaths and infections as predicted, ” Graça Machel.
Aliko Dangote spoke about how the private sector is partnering with the Nigeria government to help millions of people affected by the pandemic. He said Africa has been impacted on the human side as well as economically. “People go out to look for their daily meal, most people live on hand to month. The lockdown deprived people from going out to look for daily bread. People were not able to travel… The private sector had to intervene and did a lot of palliatives because people could not go out to work on their farms or factories since everything was shut down. This had a massive impact on the economies of Africa,” he said.
Strive Masiyiwa, said the beautiful lesson for Africa has been that it can rely on its private sector. In the past, it was believed that the private sector was there to make money, the population no longer sees it that way. “They see entrepreneurs as an integral part of the society, able to drop what we are doing to make serious sacrifices to help and use what we have. You can trust the private sector. We are here to build communities, to build livelihoods and protect our people,” said Mr Masiyiwa.
Mrs Machel also touched on an essential topic on women leadership. She reminded us of how countries that handled the pandemic the best globally were led by women.
“I think that is important also in our case, that we need to look at how women leaders should be looked at side by side with men. We need to bring women leadership at the centre post-COVID, of the reconstruction and on reshaping what out continent is going to look like in future”- Graça Machel.
When Covid-19 hit the world, it was expected that Africa’s health systems were going to be so weakened and crumble and the continent would face utter catastrophe. Mrs Machel said preventative measures are the ones that helped Africa manage the pandemic with fewer deaths and infection rates compared to Europe and the United States. However, she pointed out that economically, the effects are going to be with us for a long time.