Post-Covid tomorrow very different, – start reframing the future today
By Josef Kefas Sheehama.
The wearing of masks in public in Namibia and negative PCR tests for vaccinated visitors are no longer required, President Hage Geingob said on Tuesday.
Business leaders today are rightly focused on the huge business continuity challenges posed by the coronavirus. First and foremost, they must ensure that employees are as safe as possible, securing financial sustainability, assessing the resilience and reinforcing crucial systems. The post-COVID-19 phase gives us an unprecedented opportunity to correct course and create stronger and better versions of our societies. Everyone has a role to play in this new vision; and businesses of all sizes should see themselves reflected in plans to rebuild the economic engine and help to create inclusive, skilled workforces and sustainable value and supply chains.
To understand why something needs to be done to address Namibia’s economic resilience challenges and trading vulnerabilities, it is necessary to explore the broader shifts experienced in the global economy.
Corporate leaders’ desire to ringfence economic policy from national security starts with rethinking business and trade to mitigate the risks of coercive trade, optimize national resilience and take advantage of national strengths and trusted partners. It requires a paradigm shift away from the focus on short-term economic performance to longer term thinking that integrates economic, social and national security outcomes. Protecting and defending policy continuity happens in an environment that has changed radically from the time when policies were formed by events.
Covid-19 is an unforeseen and unprecedented situation that has turned the world upside down. And like every major disruption, it is pushing the industry’s boundaries of resilience. The industry be it miners, manufacturers, retailers or wholesalers will have to gear up for a world where the old norms will have to be reframed. Instead, new rules and different social mores will have to be put into place.
Resuming operations in the midst of a pandemic requires a lot of thinking through and courage because this virus, so far, has no cure. Vaccine inequity is the world’s biggest obstacle to ending this pandemic and recovering from COVID-19. Closing the vaccine gap is required to put this pandemic behind us. As the business world slowly awakens from the never-ending nightmare that is the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a universal understanding and acceptance that things will never be the same again. It is essential to remember that Covid-19 is first and foremost a humanitarian crisis, not purely an economic one.
Covid-19’s unprecedented impact on business across Namibia has completely derailed various established sectors. Restrictions on travel by many regions have resulted in cancellation of business events, deferment of committed orders and reduced demand, amongst other things. Now, we expect the industry to unite and survive this crisis by taking care of its workforce. Additionally, industry is expected to protect its employees’ pay and jobs by availing reserves created for such purposes or by any other means. The utmost priority at this time is just to save the work of the human resources so that they can survive in this crucial period. Both the government and industry must jointly do everything in their power to ensure that jobs are saved and families are unhurt by Covid-19’s economic impact. Various policy relaxations and changes in regulatory compliance have been initiated to minimize the hurdles faced by the industry players and facilitate ease of doing business in such a critical time.
During the lockdown, the entire world conducted business via video conferencing calls. The integration of technology in daily business will continue to grow in coming years. Now more than ever, the use of data and analytics will be crucial for studying sales information, analyzing customer behaviour, maintaining efficient stock-keeping, reducing wastage, building a strong client database and connecting with potential customers through digital mediums. This will depend on how the coronavirus pandemic is contained in the coming months, followed by relaxations in restrictions and resumption of necessary business activities.
The current situation has given us time to re-think our strategies and introduce new ways to leverage technology to engage consumers and trade alike. The digital medium is the most powerful tool we have at our disposal today. When people are stuck within the confines of their homes, they are turning more and more to technology to keep themselves abreast of the happenings around the world, connect with their loved ones and keep their minds engaged. Every crisis, even the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, presents an opportunity to reflect on the journey so far and reorganize the strategy. While battling with the crisis, we have realized how important it is for business entities to develop a sustainable business model to withstand such sudden shocks. Going forward, let us intensify our focus on environmental, social and governance aspects while taking key business decisions.
Covid-19 has changed the way we look at things. Not only has the global pandemic affected our lives in unimaginable ways, but also impacted our habits from work to shopping, and every avenue possible has taken a blow. While the world is weathering an economic crisis, it dramatically expanded the state in many jurisdictions as governments have implemented strict rules to save lives and implemented stimulus packages to save jobs and businesses.
In summary, this entails considering which course corrections we need to make given technological advances, evolving customer and employee behaviour, the need for organizational agility and resilience, and the expanded role of the state. Clearly, we won’t revert back to our old ways of living, working or doing business once the worst of the crisis has passed. Tomorrow is certain to be very different which is why we must start reframing the future today.