As it is a known fact, the world at large is suffering from a pandemic of zoonotic origin. The outbreak of the coronavirus is no more a threat for Africa but a reality that stares us in our faces as more and more countries on the continent have recorded cases. This infectious disease is considered to have started from the People's Republic of China where it is reported to have killed almost 3,500 people. Globally, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths keeps going up daily, with more than 209 countries recording cases as of April 7, 2020.
The possibility for this virus was long foreshadowed by research scientist. For example, in a review published in 2016 by Ali Al-Hazmi on “the Challenges presented by MERS coronavirus, and SARS coronavirus to global health”, he conclusively stated that:
“More efforts are still needed to accelerate the improvement of an effective therapy and vaccination. However specific medicines for treatment of such viral infections and specific vaccines for the prevention of acute and often fatal illness caused by these novel viruses are not available till date, although tremendous efforts and research are ongoing. Extreme awareness, vigilance and surveillance are highly desired to prevent these life threatening virus illnesses. (I)
It seems that the recommendation of having 'extreme awareness, vigilance and surveillance . . . to prevent these life-threatening virus illnesses' was something that the world did not pay attention to.
Clearly, the reality has caught the world unawares. Health systems of resilient world economies are being tested by this novel virus. As a matter of fact, no country in this world is getting it easy fighting this virus. Whereas health systems in high-income countries would be hard-pressed by the pandemic, the most overwhelming upshots would be in countries with already existing infectious diseases, fragile health systems or ongoing conflicts. Africa as a continent holds a greater portion of such countries. Though the present pandemic is very distressing, Africa as a whole and Ghana in particular, can turn this into a positive fate.
The concept Post-colonial which has been described by researchers such as Stephen Slemon as “the need, in nations or groups which have been victims of imperialism, to achieve an identity uncontaminated by universalistic or Eurocentric concepts and images”, clearly states that an unconscious cultural assimilation—an unaware indoctrination of colonialist's beliefs and norms upon their colonized persons—has caused a damaging effect on Africans. Eurocentric concepts and images have become the order of the day in the post-colonial Africa and Ghana in particular. The weak economies of African countries are not entirely the faults of the African leaders but rather the subtle manipulations of these so-called super powers who were once our colonial masters. Colonialism itself as a period is past and gone but the concept still lingers around and stays within our minds. The mental enslavement that Ghanaians have been put into is what needs to be addressed.
Consequently, Covid-19 promises to make us think to find solutions to our existing problems and to help liberate Ghanaians from this 'deadly disease'—mental enslavement. This is the opportune time for our leaders to take strict measures to industrialize our economy. Industrialization has been the bedrock of development in most developed economies. I believe that the time to entirely transform the country's economy into an industrialized one is now. Ghana as a country has demonstrated good governance systems from successive governments which have helped this country to get to where it is now. More can be done with regard to industrialization to better position the country to be free beyond aid.
The industrialized economies that Africa relies on did not turn out to be so in one day. They took measures and strict steps to move from one economic state to the other. On Monday, 6th April, 2020, on Citi TV's programme “The Point of View”, I was very intrigued to see Professor Fred McBagonluri, a Ghanaian, who has taken on the project of building a low-cost ventilator. The raw materials the Professor is using are all acquired within the Ghanaian economy. Who said the Ghanaian cannot do it? Several other creative inventions by the likes of Richard Kwarteng, who has manufactured a solar-powered hand-washing device, have been reported in the media which are all the result of Covid-19. The step taken by the government to start the manufacturing of nose-masks is highly commendable. This is a right step to facelift the economy of Ghana.Covid-19 situation therefore can be a perfect opportunity to propel the Ghanaian economy into an industrialized economy.
The President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo has consistently been saying “This too shall pass.” But the question is when this novel virus finally passes, can we look back to see our novelty? It is time for us embrace the myriad opportunities that Covid-19 situation presents to us to drastically turn the economy into an industrialized one. We should never turn our backs on the novel attitude and inspiration that Ghanaians are receiving from Covid-19. We cannot disappoint Covid-19, for necessity is always the mother of invention. As we do our possible best to fight and win this war, the technological and the industrial advancement that this war presents to us must not be overlooked.
Lecturer, Department of Languages Education
Faculty of Education and Communication Sciences
University of Education, Winneba, Kumasi Campus
(i) Al-Hazmi, Ali (2016). “The Challenges presented by MERS corona virus, and SARS corona virus to global health”, Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences, 23, 507-511.