What is In for Businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa Post Covid-19?
For the past couple days, I have been keenly observing how businesses are coping up with the effects of Covid-19. The underlying truth is that things are really bad. Small businesses have been hit really hard while big businesses have been gobbling up with uncertainties.
The retail sector for instance has seen a sharp decline in the total turnover volumes as purchasing power declined rapidly. Today’s business environment is unique and has tested the economic strengths and prowess of economies. Those that were well prepared are getting strained as time rolls by and the effects get dire with unpredictable new developments.
In the capital Nairobi, the CBD is full of struggling businesses. I have seen nasty cases of tenants being harassed by house owners without the simple appreciation that things are tough. I have spent a whole day in a business in town where the sales of the entire day couldn’t even manage to pay a worker let alone refresh stock.
The hospitality industry is seriously struggling as it has been hit the hardest. Before Covid-19, a number of young people I know loved going out and make the best of their teen life. With the new guidelines in place, these places have had to remain closed and that means business has been brought to a standstill.
Giant companies have had to contend with the sad reality that global demand for goods and services has had to plummet due to the pandemic. It is even more challenging for businesses in sub Saharan Africa which are not technologically advanced and are labor intensive.
With the high cost of production due to higher energy costs, overrun times due to delayed deliveries of raw materials and finished goods is not a good idea. This is because governments all over the world have put lockdowns and other have put in curfews and restricted movements.
The transport sector has been affected a lot due to imposition of new measures to try and curb the spread of Covid-19. With restricted movements, businesses which depend a lot on movement and travels get restricted in terms of marketing and distribution as well as delivery times as the case has been on the Busia border. Delay means losses as is the case with perishables.
Our technological advancement is not that developed which means people are not able to work from home and have to largely depend on actual physical reporting for work to be done. Our E-Commerce as well is not well developed to an extent it can be solely depended upon to sustain the population should they choose to stay at home.
Post Corona, businesses should brace hard for uncertain market demands. For the case of the hospitality industry, a lot of people will be unsure of where to begin again from given the fact that people don’t trust each other or other countries or even the means to use to get there.
Customer preferences are also expected to change drastically now that people are more aware of the effects of bad lifestyles. People will want to eat healthy and have their immunities stable in case of further escalation of the situation or even new outbreaks.
More people will want to reduce personal contact with other people and this means that Fintechs will win and the way people handle payments will have to change drastically. Other effects will be how people will want to be doing their shopping. In other words, businesses will be supposed to work on their digital footprints well enough and also develop their online payment plans well.
Another thing is sure that the demand for certain products and services will surge a lot in the near future especially in the healthcare and food sector. People will be having their healthcare given paramount attention as a guard towards any eventualities.
Businesses should look forward to tough business working environments with other countries. This means where the origin of our raw materials is and where we take our finished products as governments will be placing newer and a bit tougher measures to ensure safety of their people.
But as times moves on, businesses will stabilize with only one challenge being the cultural shift which goes hand in hand with how we do everything around us including business. But then one thin remains sure, we will find new ways of doing what we do best; business and trading.
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