FROM authoritative travel bans, be it national or when required regional, to keeping out mass congregations and shutting down schools, governments, banks or calling for working from home culture etc. across countries sweeping measures in a bid to curb spread of the COVID-19 are at full swing, but in my view, victory to overcome this deadly epidemic rests on our ability to move fast, follow advices and fix things in the right approach.
Observing into it, COVID- 19 has changed the world. It has created the new social fabric. The new social fabric desires approach and new financing instruments and importantly counseling.
It is overturning business and outstandingly, it will continue to threatening supply chains.
People are abysmal and hunkering down at household, some taking teaching roles or child-care role and other responsibility, previously outsourced such as day care etc.
This day and age, perhaps more than ever, is the time for technology to shine and help things get back to normal in a different way and to prepare for a more successful, healthier and safer future in manner that also can maintain productivity but importantly help to reduce business costs.
Meaning the way meetings are held, students are taught, office businesses are conducted etc. The speed of rapid technological growth in comparison to the exponential growth of today’s invisible microscopic killer is what the world need today than ever before.
After years of rapid, sparkling progress, technology missed a lethal threat that has rattled people’s lives, rattled businesses, rattled faith and government’s plans across the regions and positioning a substantial threat to humanity business as usual mentality.
Heartbreakingly, thousands of people as reported to have died and many more may follow going by WHO reported statistics.
Failure to adhere advices given by experts on how to curb this spread will leave a shock in our memories that will last for long-time.
The pressure on hospitals and medical providers is going to experience mammoth demand that has never seen in the last few years in short period.
The pain of losing loved ones in countries that have already being hit will wound the lives of those left behind.
This is not what our world anticipated when many nations rang church bell, door bells, ship bells and spectacular lights in the welcoming of New Year of 2020.
It is now clear all over the place governments are besieged to respond and instituting measures some harsh and tough to curb spread of the virus.
While in Tanzania, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has administered creation of three committee on COVID-19 in which the national committee will be headed by the Prime Minister himself, China, Italy, France, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Australia, among others, have been slated by some for being too strict.
United Kingdom is being criticised by some for being too laid-back, while Spain is being criticised for stepping up too late. Reaction will differ but mission is to curb spread of COVID-19.
Although no one knows the certainty about how Iran for example has been affected and intensifying cases after every ten minutes as reported, things sound grim globally and thus why I call upon the committee formed (see daily news 23rd March 2020) to be methodological in their exertion and be tough.
The United States in my opinion apart from watching and learning and calibrating their response daily have now accepted the pandemic realism views that indicates USA could be a new breeding ground to spread the virus.
At the beginning of 2020, the world valued an enhancement in global economic growth, as 2019’s policy uncertainty clouds dissipated, based on 4th quota published business performance worldwide.
Banks financial quarterly published reports are customarily used as litmus paper to signals how economy is performing or has performed in the preceding year.
Unfortunately, the global economy has been speedily hit by two new shockwaves, one the COVID-19 outbreak and the steep fall in oil prices.
As the COVID-19 hurricane moves west from China, the social distancing measures enacted around the world have the potential to cause significant pain, especially for businesses sectors and indirectly on family ecosystem.
On top of the COVID-19, the fall in oil prices will likely hit the energy sector hard, with some offsetting positives coming from lower gasoline prices for consumers.
In general, concerns are mounting about the credit and liquidity implications from these two interacting shockwaves, with the austerity and length of negative impacts which is still unclear.
Certain, there is no mechanism COVID-19 wide-ranging effects can be circumvented, and aware that it might be too early for banks to state what kind of relief it will offer to clients affected by coronavirus will be or are still putting their plans in place, I thought it might be prudent to share views on how some banks could work or deal with clients affected by the coronavirus.
Bank with smart workforce must to be ahead of the game would such bank not want to be subdued by unanticipated claims caused by clients facing financial difficulties due to the coronavirus related effects.
Starting to engage clients or businesses promoters and associations on potential effects of COVID- 19 will support to rightly signal what kind of assistance might be required as rescue package that could take different forms such as setting minimum re-payment, deferred loan or fee suppression.
This is critical because future banks survival need businesses survival and vice versa. Looking at COVID-19 pandemic on one hand and the role of banking sector on the other hand, in my opinion, I foresee many avenues that banks could use to sustain businesses.
For instance waivers on monthly banks service fees for a given period let say nighty days, for both steady and small business clients although might be taken to be a small portion of cost to businesses can help businesses cope with knock on effects of COVID-19 related effects.
Congruently, waived penalties for overdraft withdrawal, or credit line increases and collection leniency technique for small business clients could help to sustain businesses during this period.
Banks especially commercial banks with personal loans portfolio can if within regulation contemplate of deferring payments on their loans for one month with no interest.
This worldwide crisis presents the greatest challenge yet faced by banking industry. This new struggle against an invisible threat will result in the creation of new areas of business activity that banks need to start thinking on financial products that could meet such emerging desires, including digital medicine businesses; artificial intelligence-powered diagnostics businesses; remote social and business networking ventures; online freight and logistics deals; one-click cyber security and payment systems for small businesses; 3-D printing for vital medical equipment businesses; training for distance learning licences and applications-just to name a few will all require new form of financing.
What I am trying to place before the banks is that entirely new industries and forms of business will surface demanding new financing architect and approach.
For policy makers, much as financial institution grappling to cope, it is time for them to face hardhitting questions.
What could government have done better as far as this outbreak is concerned? Along with the recently imposed travel bans, countries such as Senegal, Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia and Tanzania are among those to have closed educational facilities.
Botswana, Ghana and Ethiopia, have placed a ban on sporting events. Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Ghana have forbidden gatherings at places of worship.
My best advice for our region and to our public is to prepare and prepare today. To organize and preparing today is important because largescale quarantines, travel restrictions, and social-distancing actions will drive a sharp fall in consumer and business spending until in my view the end of Q2 2020.
Even though, the outbreak is coming under control in most parts of the world led by China, the self-reinforcing dynamics of a stagnation will in my assessment kick in and prolong the fall until the end of Q3 2020.
Undoubtedly, broadly consumers staying at home will make businesses lose revenue and perhaps lay off workforces and unemployment levels could rise. Business investment will contracts, and corporate bankruptcies might rise, putting significant pressure on the banking and financial system.
Alongside the awaited hard economic havoc, early studies and public observations have identified that Covid-19 would have devastating impact on social life too as divorce rate are reported to be on the increasing trend in China and anticipated to rise in Europe, UK and USA due to psychological impact of anti Covid-9 measures such as social-distancing and selfisolation.
Others have prophesied that the state of mental health for many would be impaired due to the related traumas such as surge in unemployment, financial losses by families and change in priorities for meagre public health resources whereby conditions such as mental health would have lower priority.
Accounts have also indicated that inequality gap would widen due to shift in priorities and nationalism and generally civil liberties would be widely traded by many for mere survival.
These developments on the sociological aspects calls upon non-state actors such as civil societies, faith-based organisations, relief organisations and human rights activities to join forces in easing or mitigating the impact.
As the saying by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates goes ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’, religious leaders such as priests and Imams should be geared to offer marriage and family counseling to their faithful, psychologists and sociologists increase their capacity to save masses, civil societies geared up to support Government efforts touching on the societies at the grass root.
There have been no other times than this that the World is called upon to unite strongly and collaborate its efforts while avoiding what Darwin referred to as ‘survival for the fittest’ as we evidenced the case of Trumps covert attempt to control early Covid-19 vaccine development by luring Germany Covid-19 vaccine researchers to move into US.