“Our societies are only as strong as our ability to care for each other”, says the Open Letter on Covid-19 from theAfrica Innovation Policy Task Force.
This letter activated over 200 African innovation leaders from across over 48 countries to call for collective action and organize the pan-African Digital Assembly (pADA).
The pADA, a three-day virtual forum from May 13-15, combined bottom-up policy co-creation – through a continental entrepreneurs forum involving over 420 entrepreneurs working across multiple thematic rooms with trained facilitators from 48 countries – and high-level panel discussions among health experts and political, cultural and innovation leaders.
The #pADA also served as the launchpad for a preliminary report on the impact of the pandemic on African businesses and was the culmination of a month-long campaign, #Dontgoviral, that activated artists from 40 countries to crowd-source content to combat misinformation about the pandemic.
An Alarming Report on the Impact of Covid-19 on SMEs
“Africa could take a Generation to Recover”. The results of the continent-wide preliminary report on SMEs elaborated by the Innovation for Policy Foundation seem to confirm this warning of H.E Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda.
The study, covering over 500 businesses and 150+ Community Innovation Hubs from 46 African countries, found that 44% of entrepreneurs and 39% of ESOs are at risk of failure or bankruptcy in the next 3 months.
Seventy-four percent are losing revenue as a result of the pandemic, 89% need capital support to stay in business, and MSMEs expect, on average, an 18% reduction in employees from January to May 2020.
These challenges and others signal serious implications for unemployment and economic stability which require a strategic and timely response from African governments.
The pan-African Digital Assembly on Covid-19
“To survive this crisis, to rebuild our societies, and to safeguard our communities in its aftermath will demand that we unlock our collective problem-solving potential, our resources, and our shared humanity”.
In response to this call to action from African innovation leaders, the Innovation for Policy Foundation (i4Policy), in partnership with UNESCO, Facebook, GIZ Make IT, Enabel, AFD, Afrilabs, Africa’s Business Heroes, Briter Bridge sand Digital Africa and more than 200 community partners from 48 countries, organized the pan-African Digital Assembly.
The virtual forum resulted in more than 50,000 engagements during the three-day event.
Crowdsourcing Local Content to Combat the Pandemic
To crown it all, the pADA announced the winners of the first round of prizes of the #DontGoViral campaign, an initiative that involved 500+ African artists to combat the infodemic,-the pandemic of misinformation, disinformation and lack of information., launched together with UNESCO to inform communities and to build social cohesion.
The campaign reached over 130M people on social media, with a dedicated session during the pADA attended live by 23000+ viewers.
i4Policy and UNESCO launched a second round of awards to keep crowdsourcing content throughout May and June 2020.
An Action Agenda on Response & Recovery
“If countries come together, plan together, act together, [they are] more likely to address the outbreak efficiently than if they are working on their own” Dr. Ogwell Ouma, Deputy Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention The results of the pADA.
including the insights from the panel discussions, the solutions provided during the Entrepreneurs Forum and the data emerging from the SMEs study
All these will be consolidated by innovation hub managers, policy experts and political leaders into a Joint Action Agenda for Covid-19 Response and Recovery.
The first version of the Action Agenda will be released in mid-June 2020 and hosted on an online consultation platform to receive feedback at scale.
Featured Image: theconversation
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