Intensify efforts to minimise covid-19 impact

Sunday March 22 2020

 

On Friday (March 20, 2020), we reported that the new coronavirus disease which is currently ravaging much of the world had already wiped Sh2tr off the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange books.

Code-named ‘Covid-19,’ the pandemic is playing merry hell with stock marts the world over, including the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) in Kenya next-door, where NSE stocks lost Ksh573b (roughly Sh12.6tr) in the past two months.

In more-or-less similar vein, DSE lost nearly Sh2tr largely to Covid-19 in the month to March 18 this year.

The near-similarities between the two marts are products of cross-listing of some prime stocks, compounded by fear, reluctance, inability – or whatever – by foreign investors of the devastating hydra-headed coronavirus monster.

We also reported that the government has issued guidelines and directives intended to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Tanzania.

These include – but aren’t limited to – temporary closure of educational institutions at all academic levels from kindergarten, primary and secondary schools to tertiary education; banning or restricting some sporting activities; curtailed visits on prisoners in jail and in-patients at hospitals; overloading of passengers, and public gatherings/crowds. Other taboos are bodily contact in all forms and shapes – including hand-shaking, hugging/embracing, smooching and sharing things physical...

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Oh... there’s a lot more of such efforts on the part of the government and related institutions, including development partners – be they bilateral, multilateral or philanthropic individuals and foundations.

All in all, however, the pandemic has been wreaking havoc on economies in both developed and underdeveloped/developing countries.

For example, untold numbers of salaried employees around the world have lost their jobs for reasons related to the pandemic.

Countries like Tanzania – about 17 percent of whose gross domestic product (GDP) comes from Tourism – are being starved of this as a result of coronavirus-related travel bans/restrictions in tourist source-markets overseas.

This is already adversely impacting the tourism industry and related businesses, including the hospitality and transport sectors of the economy.

We must go the extra mile to save the economy. Authorities must begin to think about how the country would cushion the vulnerable from the likely devastating effects of the disease.

Suffice it here to say that the severe impact of the pandemic on the country’s major trading-cum-development partners was bound to also severely impact our socio-economic development prospects. In fact, this is already happening. Therefore, the authorities – including especially the government – should not limit their noble efforts to counseling Tanzanians on how to avoid being infected by the disease, or how to best cope with it if and when one is infected.

The authorities must go the extra mile and devise functional ways and means of significantly minimizing (if not eliminating altogether) the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy in particular, and the national wellbeing in general.

That’s no easy task. This is especially now that Tanzania is already ‘home’ to a handful-or-so of Covid-19 cases – even as the pandemic continues to spread far and wide across the globe.

Indeed, failure to come up with functional strategies soonest could result in the economy contracting – and even collapsing – with dire consequences for hapless Tanzanians.