Opinions Mon, 23 Mar 2020

Opportunity in the midst of calamity

The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has occupied the front pages of every major news outlet. It has dominated briefings of many heads of states and governments. It has completely altered how we interact with one another and how we conduct our affairs. Cities are on lockdown.

Countries have closed borders. Large gatherings are being discouraged. Schools have been shut down. Worship services are on hold. Political leaders and other people of influence have not been spared from the scourge of the virus. No one has been spared.

As this pandemic disrupts our lives, it is reasonable for each one of us to be concerned. However, in being concerned, we must not overly fret but adhere to the precautions recommended by the World Health Organization and other public health experts.

On Monday March 16, 2020, Ghana’s President Akufo-Addo put forward a paradigm when he met key leaders of the pharmaceutical industry and financial sector in Ghana. For him, the global pandemic gives us an opportunity to develop a strong and self-reliant pharmaceutical industry.

In the words of the President, the agenda for that meeting was, “for all of us to put our brains, minds and hearts together to see the way forward for the future of our country.”

Due to the global nature of the COVID-19 viral pandemic and the challenge that even the most advanced nations face in battling it, it has become imperative for Ghana to have the capacity to deal with it, without the expectation of substantial donor support.

The President’s meeting with these industry leaders was to explore immediate ways to build the capacity of local businesses to produce kits needed to help manage the outbreak of the disease in the country.

For me, that is a clear silver lining in the midst of this serious crisis. It has brought to the fore the imperative to invest more rigorously in the productive capacity of local industries, something we have always known as a country but have not tackled with the urgency it deserves. So in the midst of the crisis, it seems there is a determination to make a significant intervention in that regard.

Due to public health experts’ recommendation for social distancing to help curb the spread of the virus, faith groups and businesses are now being forced to make digital platforms the pivotal channel for service delivery.

Organizations that already had digital infrastructure in place are maximizing these platforms while others are racing to catch up.

As individuals, organizations and countries, our response in these uncertain times will determine how we emerge when the crisis subsides. As devastating as it is, let us consciously be on the lookout for bright spots. While we carefully assess the negative impacts of this outbreak, let’s look for opportunities.

While in isolation, is there a skill you can learn online? Is there a book you can read? This could be the time to write that book or write that business plan. Those compelled to work from home may begin to think about how they can improve their work ethic.

This is the time to put on your A-game. It’s time to think and think radically. It’s time to dream about an innovative new product. There is nothing in this world which is absolutely negative or completely positive. In this particular situation, the negatives are obvious and glaring. Make the effort to see the positives.
Columnist: Terry Mante
Related Articles: