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What you need to know:
- President Uhuru Kenyatta, who opened the summit, said Kenya's response to the pandemic has focused on minimising fatalities.
- Rwandan President Paul Kagame said Africa is emerging from the crisis much better due to collaboration.
Africa has handled the Covid-19 pandemic better than was expected due to its resilience and past experience.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame said at the ongoing Kusi Ideas Festival in Kisumu that though the world had a bleak projection on how the continent would be battered by the virus, Africa is emerging from the crisis much better due to collaboration.
Speakers cited technology, innovation and focus on homegrown solutions as the best way the continent can deal with the crisis and keeping its economies afloat.
“Our people still want to travel and connect meaningfully. We must harness the power of technology, create innovative solutions and invest in infrastructure,” Mr Kagame said in his keynote address delivered virtually.
The Kusi Ideas Festival in Kisumu is the second Nation Media Group-sponsored summit that brings together the continent’s top thinkers to evaluate solutions to economic, social and political challenges.
It also identifies opportunities for faster growth.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who opened the summit, said Kenya's response to the pandemic has focused on minimising fatalities and dealing with the attendant economic challenges like a drop in tax revenue.
Mr Kenyatta said while the pandemic had exerted fiscal pressure on many African governments, the continent has not experienced the worst as had initially been predicted.
He attributed the success to multi-pronged responses and simultaneous adaptations.
“The situation is not merely a crisis but presents an opportunity to come up with innovative ways to deal with African problems,” he said.
Fight against pandemic
The President added that at government level, leaders have been obligated to lead nations out of the crisis with international partnerships, saying his administration swiftly designed a post-Covid-19 strategy in collaboration with county governments.
“There can’t be a global bounce back that leaves Africa behind,” he said, emphasising focus on vulnerable segments of the population.
“There is so much we can do to achieve Pan-Africanism and increase our visibility as a continent.”
Speakers agreed that the pandemic has become an accelerator of innovations and strengthening of health systems in Africa.
Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o said the festival “has come a time for hope, a time for positivity in the fight against the pandemic”.
He said it is a shame that Victoria, the region’s largest freshwater lake, has remained underutilised since 1978 when the original East African Community collapsed.
“Despite being the continent with the most resources, we are the poorest in terms of GDP,” Prof Nyong’o said.
“It will be unfortunate if we do not utilise our innovation and technology to fight this pandemic.”
NMG Board chairman Wilfred Kiboro said Africa has not suffered the bleak projections the rest of the world had on it.
“What did we do right? We had no laboratories when the virus hit the continent in January. Today, all African countries have testing centres,” Dr Kiboro said.
He added that the pandemic has brought out the resilience of Africa, demonstrated from the fact that Kenya was importing sanitiser and PPE but is producing all these locally today.
“We don’t need to face east or west to find solutions. We have the answers within,” he said.