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Pat Utomi, Muda Yusuf lead talks on ‘Covid-19: Business and Economic Recovery of Africa’

By Izuchukwu Okosi

Access to the Tuesday virtual conference are: (Zoom) and (facebook)

POLITICAL Economy and Management expert, Professor Pat Utomi, former Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf as well as the West Africa Regional Director of Ford Foundation, Ms Catherine Chinedum Aniagolu-Okoye lead the roll call of speakers expected to grace the fourth edition of the Prime Business Africa’s SEEDS Webinar set to hold on Tuesday October 26, reports Prime Business Africa.

The monthly economic development solutions think tank  holds virtually at 5pm every last Tuesday and is hosted by the Chief Executive Officer of Newstide Publications Limited, Dr Marcel Mbamalu, who is also the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Prime Business Africa.

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SEEDS  is an acronym for “Socio-economic and Entrepreneurship Development Series”  and holds virtually every last Tuesday of the month  at 5pm. The theme of this month’s conference (SEEDS4) is: “COVID-19: Business and Economic Recovery in Africa.”

Dr Yusuf, who, until recently, has been effectively leading  the Lagos Chamber in its progressive drive for a robust engagement in public policy to boost trade and investments, has since confirmed his participation as  Keynote speaker; the same for Utomi,  a social economist, policy expert and anchor of the popular ‘Patito’s Gang’ the public enlightenment programme on national television. Prof. Utomi will be guest speaker at the webinar.

Utomi who is the founder of Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL) is interestingly the Chairman of the Editorial Board of Prime Business Africa (PBA)

Joining Yusuf for the webinar are the trio of Timbo Drayson, Michael Olafusi and Catherine Chinedum Aniagolu-Okoye of the Ford Foundation.

Ambassador Otobo, the moderator, is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Global Governance Institite, Brussels. Otobo is also a  director on the Board of Newstide Publications Limited.  He is the moderator for  Tuesday’s SEEDS 4.

Arts and Culture Ambassador, Jahman Anikulapo,  who was Editor of The Guardian on Sunday for many years, will be co-moderator.

Otobo has participated in previous SEEDS, specifically the 2nd edition held on August 31, 2021 which was on Funding  Higher Education in Nigeria: What Options?

The webinar has churned out quality themes with the last of them bordering on the impact of Tech Disruptions which was held on 28 September 2021.

Speakers had discussed issues on impact of Cyber security on Fintech, 5G and national development, achieving financial inclusion through fintech, and general note on impact of fintech on African Economies

The Speakers For Tuesday 26 November 2021.

Dr. Muda Yusuf Lead Speaker. He is immediate past Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). He is currently the CEO Centre for the  Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE).

Timbo Drayson: A former Product Manager at Google, he co-founded OkHi in 2014. The platform has a GPS-based technology that enables a business outfit to  gather data about addresses of customers or clients and verify as accurate. Drayson ‘s motive of developing OkHi was to address challenges faced by businesses as a result of poor data about customer or client addresse and the overall impact on the national economy especially in a developing country like Nigeria. He had previously worked with Googgle corporation during which he oversaw the launch of Google Maps in emerging markets and also distruptions and the Future of African  Economies.”

Michael Olafusi – Speaker: He is a Financial Modeler and business data analyst

Catherine Lagos Abuogolu–Okoye Speaker: The Ford Foundation’s Regional Director for West Africa, she will be speaking on  the role of organisations like Ford in advancing post-COVID recovery process in West Africa.

Speaking on the October Edition of SEEDS webinar, Dr Mbamalu, publisher of Prime Business Africa, noted that although the initial dire predictions of the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on Africa, in terms of rate of infections and deaths, have not materialised, African governments should not be be lulled into complacency, as a significant rise in Covid-19 caseload could overwhelm the region’s fragile health systems. He observed that many African countries are now experiencing their third wave of Covid-19.

Dr Mbamalu noted that the weaknesses in Africa’s health sector had  been laid bare in the inadequate testing and tracing capacity, insufficient hospital spaces for Covid-19 patients, and in the lack of medical equipment, all of which reflect the continuing inadequate public investment in the health sector.

This, he said, is contrary to the 2001 Abuja Declaration commitment to allocate at least 15 percent of annual budgets to the improvement of the health sector in African countries.

“COVID-19 will have both short and long-term economic impacts; COVID-19 has led to Africa’s economic contraction in 2020 in order of -3.4 percent, although a recovery of 3.5 percent is projected for 2021,” Mbamalu said.

According to the CEO of Newstide, COVID-19 has hit hard the sectors that employ low-income people such as tourism, hospitality, and small and medium enterprises. Many recent forecasts projected recession in most African countries in 2020, and, according to the United Nations, nearly 30 million more people could fall into poverty.

Mbamalu noted that E-Commerce is a rapidly developing economic phenomenon globally and that the Covid-19 pandemic has  helped to turbocharge its growth.

“This trade enhancer,” he said,  “is yet to gain much traction in most African countries, but its potential positive impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP)  is not in doubt.

“With the growing adoption of technology by the youths, who constitute the higher percentage of the population, e-commerce resources will be well received and this is why we are bringing on board this October SEEDS, Timbo Drayson, Founder of OkHi and former Product Manager at Google, to contribute to this discussion,” said Dr Mbamalu.

Dr Mbamalu, therefore, surmised that “the purpose of this forthcoming SEEDS is to examine the long-term business economic, and social impacts of COVID-19 on Africa and propose the policy measures that African countries should adopt in response.”

The distinguished media expert gave Zoom and Facebook live stream  links for the Tuesday virtual conference as: (Zoom) and (facebook)

The Publisher of Prime Business Africa enjoined African business leaders, policy makers, health and tech experts as well as students of Business and Economy to log in,  participate and  contribute to the all-important discourse.

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