“We should think African but act locally and opportunistically to survive and prosper, and exploit the global opportunities offered by the crises.” — Dr. Charles Chukwuma Soludo
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Prof Charles advocates for a new Africa.
From the view he shared with Proshare on the solutions that Nigeria and Africa needs to alleviate the economy during this period of COVID-19 pandemic, he suggests that Nigeria lift the lockdown to allow people to work and keep the economy flowing.
He also suggests that Nigeria should allow people to work and go about their various businesses while sticking and enforcing the rules of wearing face mask, using hand sanitizers and practicing social distancing.
“As a first step, African countries should urgently dismantle the border closures as well as the stay at home/lockdown orders. Hopefully, some useful data were gathered, and lessons learnt that will help in crafting simple, smart, and sustainable heterodox responses. Africa cannot afford lockdowns that will prove ineffective anyway.”
Furthermore, he said that government should allow people to take responsibility of their safety and at the same time enforcing laws that will ensure compliance to the safety measures towards staying free from COVID-19.
He equally suggests that our western and local (herbal) medical experts and research institutions should come together and bring out solutions. Stressing on the need maintain the African spirit and doing it our own way since there is yet to be a clear solution for the cure to the virus.
“The west is still on a trial-and-error mode, and why shouldn’t we experiment as well? Africa fought and survived Ebola without lockdowns and we can do even better this time.”
The crypto friendly economist advocates for learning-by-doing while maintaining basic common-sense ideas like using hand-sanitizers, using of face mask etc to avoid the spread of the virus.
This is an opportunity to create new jobs and allow people get engaged because, the demand of face mask and hand sanitizers is increasing, and it needs to be made available.
“The slogan could be: “stay at home if you can, or smartly go to work if you must”. We can only defeat the challenge by confronting it, and not by playing the Ostrich only to still confront it the day after.”
There is equally an increase in the use of online meeting apps and other video conferencing apps like Zoom and Google Meet. We can help our own innovators to produce and grow. This is an opportunity for Africa, not a time for lockdown.
Moreover, according to World Bank, the remittances to Nigeria and other low-income African countries have drastically reduced of recent. This calls for a need to develop our own.
We have to create, do it ourselves and grow. We don’t hace to always copy from the other worlds. While these countries are doing what works for them, let us do what works for Africa.
Speaking on the dangers of borrowing during this period, he said;
“After most African countries empty all their piggy banks now, and borrow their full tranches at the Fund and the World Bank, secured moratorium on existing debt etc, what happens with the next disruption in a few years’ time? Or like the African musician, Oliver de Coque sang: “let us enjoy life today, and after that we can worry about tomorrow”? But that tomorrow is a few hours away.
Because of these crises, many African currencies (especially the oil producers) might likely depreciate significantly. Servicing these external debts tomorrow with the exchange rate then, would require heavy lifting. But it is difficult to see how a competitive real effective exchange rate regime will not be a critical component of their comprehensive strategy for diversification and global competitiveness.”
Going further, he strongly believes that re-opening of the already locked borders will save Nigeria and Africa from any sudden economic meltdown while at the sametime working to help Nigeria succeed.
About Dr. Charles Chukwuma Soludo
Dr. Soludo is a world class economist, a former Governor and chairman of the board of directors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He is currently a member of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC) since 2019.