On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan City, China.
On 7 January 2020, the Chinese authorities identified a new coronavirus as the cause and temporarily named it “2019-nCoV.”
On 30 January 2020, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General declared the novel coronavirus outbreak to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) – WHO’s highest level of alarm.
At that time, 98 cases of the virus were reported in 18 countries outside China, but no deaths(WHO, 2022).
As social beings, human beings seek and relate with each other and other creatures; we move to explore, socialize, and make new discoveries of the vast world around us. As a result of these interactions, characteristics and diseases inadvertently spread from one to the other.
After WHO declared the novel virus as a public health emergency in January 2020, Ghanaians had the shock of their lives when the Minister for Health announced the confirmation of the first two cases of the virus in Accra on 12th March, 2020. The two cases identified were people returning from their journey to Norway and Turkey. As unprepared as we were as a country, it was not surprising there was so much fear regarding the new pandemic.
After crashing on our shores on that fateful 12th March, the virus started spreading quickly, due to the insatiable desire of Ghanaians to move about to visit family, friends and other relatives as well as for entertainment. The worldwide outcry by WHO of the deadly nature of the virus did not deter Ghanaians from such movements, interactions and socialising. Actions Taken
For an already struggling economy, and mindful of the dire consequences that lay ahead, the government had to embark on a serious campaign to contain the spread of the deadly virus. The contract tracing process was implemented to track people who had come into contact with the victims of the virus. Although this did not slow down the rate at which the novel virus was penetrating its new environment, it helped to detect dozens of the cases within the shortest possible time.
A partial lockdown process was also implemented to force people to stay at home. The police and military mounted roadblocks to enforce these lockdown measures (Afrane, 2021). The following days also saw the closure of land borders, as well as the international airport. Public gatherings such as church services, mosque meetings, conferences, funerals, festivals, night clubs and beaches were also banned.
Similarly, early childhood schools, kindergarten, basic schools, senior high schools, universities and all other training institutions were closed down in the ongoing efforts to curtail the spread of the virus. Additionally, nationwide fumigation of markets, hospitals and schools was carried out by the government in collaboration with stakeholders in the sanitation industry.
There has never been a time in the history of our beloved country since independence, that a single pandemic shook the very foundation of our economy and brought it to a standstill. It is like a dare game whereby whoever moves dies; all participants are forced to stand wherever they may be to preserve their lives. However, standing still does not keep you safe either; the consequences are gradual. You will be traumatised with frustrations, embarrassment, regrets, emptying of cash vaults and wallets and other factors that kill slowly but painfully.
Around the world, coronavirus lockdowns brought the world to a standstill. Almost 2.7 billion workers, representing around 81% the world’s workforce, have been affected by partial or full lockdown regulations. (Kunal Sen, Michael Danquah, Robert Darko Osei, Simone Schotte, 2021).
Although the lockdown was mainly administered in the urban centres, namely Accra and Kumasi, it had a wider economic impact by triggering job losses and business closures nationwide. Labour earnings dropped drastically with petty traders being the most affected. This led to harsh economic situations for the poor in these cities, particularly those living in the slums.
Notwithstanding the challenges the citizens were facing, as they obeyed the various regulations set in place by the government to combat the virus, there was still the need for intervention. The president and other high ranking officials of the country set aside three months earnings of their salaries to create the COVID-19 FUND to support those who were heavily traumatised by the new disease in town. This noble example set by the country’s first gentlemen, was copied and followed by fellow citizens, organisations, and companies who donated towards the fund.
Similarly, international donors through various government institutions provided various financial packages to support businesses that provide consumer products, to minimise the negative effects of the virus.. This support came at the right time when restrictions were eased and life was returning to normal. However, things were not the same; rules on hygiene and social distancing have reshaped daily life (Kunal Sen, Michael Danquah, Robert Darko Osei, Simone Schotte, 2021).
In the wake of the novel coronavirus, we all can attest to the menace it plagued us with and the fate that a mere pandemic could entirely alter our view of life and living. But there is no doubt that the pandemic attack brought to light the vulnerabilities in our system. The negative effects of the unexpected pandemic were harsh but equally helped us see the worst enemy that was lying low to overtake the country by surprise and throw it into an economic disaster that I doubt even support from international orgianisations will relieve the country in a short time.
Although restrictions have been eased, borders opened and businesses have resumed, the impact of the covid-19 pandemic can still be felt. The following highlight the impact: We have seen the weaknesses of our businesses and the failure to generate enough funds to help us escape any economic hardship. We have seen our inability to bounce back even when given a moderate enough time to rise above our limitations and revitalise our livelihoods. Also, we have seen the weaknesses in our psychological makeup owing to the panic that compelled us to find safety in our own shells, although the virus proved we were not safe in the comfort of our homes.
The weaknesses in our business partnerships and the low availability of resources to foster business growth were also brought to light by the effects of the pandemic. There is therefore the need to create the avenue where we can see businesses flourish through partnerships and the availability of investor funding.
These and other lessons have taught us to take measures to prepare ourselves before another unexpected pandemic crashes our shores. This is where RESILIENT GHANA is taking the initiative to create opportunities that strengthen the youth and develop the skills necessary to create their own resilient and sustainable businesses.
RESILIENT GHANA is on the mission to empower the Ghanaian youth through curated programmes that develop business skills, introduce business partnerships, present investor/funding opportunities and foster business growth.
Partnerships and business growth are delicate in nature and prone to challenges, if businessmen and women are poorly equipped with the technical knowledge to effectively manage their businesses. In light of this, RESILIENT Ghana has adopted a two-pronged approach in our mission to make the youth more resilient.
First, we build capacity in the youth through our Mentorship Programme. This is a nationwide movement whereby mentors from various industries take turns to share in-depth knowledge on business topics as well personal wellbeing and development. This, we believe will help the youth to drive themselves forward with ambition, self-motivation and their capacity.
We then provide opportunities for the youth to envision solutions for their business and for the country through our Challenge Programme. This programme is developed to gather, assess and provide funding for executable business ideas of young entrepreneurs in Ghana. It is targeted at entrepreneurs from the ages of 19 to 35 years who have either business ideas or start-ups and require some business guidance towards implementation.
Through these efforts, we hope to develop resilient young entrepreneurs who provide innovative solutions and be better prepared should any disaster rock our motherland.
RESILIENT GHANA is not on a journey to create a magical world where at a snap of the fingers all problems are erased. Rather, we hope to develop mind-sets that will not stumble in the face of adversity. We also seek to provide a platform to challenge and empower our entrepreneurial youth to identify, create and present innovative solutions to real-life problems in Ghana while creating lasting businesses.
We hereby encourage the youth to join us in our efforts to build them up to better prepare in advance while prospering in their personal lives and businesses. Be resilient for Ghana, join our cause.
- Asare Afrane, Yaw., 2022. The COVID-19 situation in Ghana | RSTMH. [online] Rstmh.org. Available at: <https://rstmh.org/news-blog/news/the-covid-19-situation-in-ghana> [Accessed 22 January 2022].
- Sen, K., Dunquah, M., Darko Osei, R. and Schotte, S., 2022. Ghana’s lockdown hit vulnerable workers hard: what needs to happen next time. [online] The Conversation. Available at: <https://theconversation.com/ghanas-lockdown-hit-vulnerable-workers-hard-what-needs-to-happen-next-time-156876> [Accessed 24 January 2022].
- Euro.who.int. 2022. About the virus. [online] Available at: <https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov> [Accessed 24 January 2022].
- Covid19.who.int. 2022. Ghana: WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard With Vaccination Data. [online] Available at: <https://covid19.who.int/region/afro/country/gh> [Accessed 24 January 2022].