The sanitary crisis of the Covid 19 has sent ripples of panic leading to the tumbling of international stock markets indices. Fortunately, stock market indices do not determine our economic prosperity, otherwise it would have long disappeared given that the investors’ moods constantly swing like a yoyo.
Economic resilience realistically depends on how well the current leadership has prepared their nations or organisations to face up to the challenges associated with major climatic changes. Many scientists have previously warned about the dangers of the destruction of our rainforests. Their gradual disappearance has encouraged wild animals such as bats to move to cities and spread their deadly diseases. We are now paying the price of our rigid approach to economic development.
Economic survival does not depend on short term profitability. Growth, not accompanied by strong cash liquidity, assets with strong earning capability, an educated workforce and social resilience has a negative impact too. The Covid 19 has uncovered the true reality facing many organisations and nations. The airline industry clearly illustrates this point. Low cost travel has been the main driver of growth of the industry. Today, these same airline companies are faced with limited options for their survival.
What kind of future can we aspire to? The impact of the Covid 19 pandemic resembles to what happened to Southern African countries during the high prevalence of the HIV/AIDS in the early 2000’s. 20% to 30% of their adult population was infected: many died. The health systems (both private and public) were overwhelmed in trying to attend to the needs of the AIDS patients so that there were not enough resources for treating other illnesses. HIV had also broken down many family structures and this poses considerable challenges for both state and social support systems. In containing the prevalence of HIV amongst their citizens, countries like Botswana had to divert substantial resources from productive investments. Also, the size of the labour force, the availability of skills and productivity were some of the macro economic challenges that the Southern African countries had to deal with. Their economies inevitably slowed down and government revenues were adversely affected.
In light of the complexity of current socio economic situation, leaders must be adept at leveraging the wisdom and skills of their workforce, citizens and communities. Adaptability, flexibility and creativity are all required for a strong movement towards the build up of economic resilience. Embracing change has always been humanity’s means of innovation. The most brilliant of creators in history such as Leonardo Da Vinci were people whom you could not put in a box. They were not just scientists, engineers, just teachers, or just philosophers. They had to draw from different courses of thinking and different disciplines to create disruptive innovation. They also refused to become so habit bound that familiar customs unthinkingly turn into ruts. Instead, they keep analysing their own track records, looking for new opportunities and unexpected misfires. Working and living with personal integrity – the right kind of conviction – was their motto.
Our innovative minds have today produced e commerce, mobile money, virtual classrooms, etc. Technological changes can be a positive enabler of societal transformation. In fact, Facebook, Zoom, What’s app came into our lives because we allowed them to. Though our educational systems have not taught us to be agile, people do have the innate ability to stretch to meet the requirements of the prevailing situation.
The current economic and social situation actually results from our giving in to the thrill of enhanced size, illusory economic and political power. In short, being engaged with change also means maintaining our strong personal moral core if we are looking to build a better future. Our perspectives on life have undoubtedly changed: whether for worse or better – is actually up to us.