Although Africa was initially spared by the Coronavirus due to its relatively slow arrival, the continent faces a formidable triple challenge. The 54 African countries have to ensure that families, most of whom depend on daily wages, do not go hungry during lockdowns; health systems have to be strengthened so that they are not overwhelmed by Covid19 outbreak and the national economies should not grind to a halt.
Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa whose company, PTG-hld, manufactures and trades across Sub-Saharan Africa, has held strong views since the outbreak of the Coronavirus. He says that no African families should have to go hungry or fail to access healthcare during the outbreak.
The Coronavirus in Africa
While the Coronavirus originally seemed to migrate to Africa slower than other regions, the situation is spreading much more rapidly. At the time of writing, Africa has reported over 18,328 cases of COVID-19 and 915 deaths from the illness.
Africa is uniquely affected by the virus. Most people on the continent live from day to day, and are therefore reliant on earning cash in the market to buy food. A few days' lockdown is the difference between poverty and starvation. An even bigger challenge is to keep economies functional and stopping a slide into destitution and hunger. Lockdowns also threaten to interrupt supply chains of essential drugs to treat TB, HIV and other diseases.
Some countries, for example Uganda and South Africa, are distributing free food. Ghana has announced free electricity, water and a tax holiday. But African governments simply do not have the funds to sustain the kind of measures implemented in wealthier economies.
Putting Beliefs into Action
Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa maintains that fighting the virus is not the responsibility of governments alone. That would be a recipe for failure.
As he explains, “these are unprecedented times requiring exceptional collaboration between governments and the business community. The work to be done, and the material and financial resources to get the job done are too enormous. Only through a collective effort will the African continent end this pandemic.”
Ayabatwa has put his beliefs into action. In countries where PTG-hld operates, the company worked with government authorities to deploy the financial resources PTG-hld contributed according to national strategies. The PTG-hld resources assisted in three ways. First, the resources were placed at the disposal of national leaders who determined how the support should be used.
Second, the PTG-hld resources purchased foodstuffs to assist vulnerable families. Third, the resources supported the acquisition of critical medical equipment such as ventilators and x-rays machines to strengthen the healthcare infrastructure.
Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa commends business leaders around the world who augmented the work of public bodies or occupied gaps that might otherwise have been left unfilled. He adds that “It does not matter whether the initiatives undertaken by private-sector organizations to help to combat the coronavirus were large or small. The important thing is to engage and be part of the army to fight and win this unprecedented global war.”
Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa’s Final Thoughts
According to Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, Africa is uniquely impacted by the Coronavirus. African countries do not have massive resources to fight the virus as in rich countries of Europe or America.
Furthermore, most of the workers on the continent earned daily wages which are not possible during the shutdowns. Therefore, says Ayabatwa, “These workers and their families must not go hungry. African people must not face the tragic choice of being healthy or going hungry. We must win on both fronts.”
About Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa
Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa is a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist from Rwanda. Ayabatwa is the founder and controlling shareholder of the Pan African Tobacco Group, Africa’s largest indigenous manufacturer of tobacco products. The company manufactures cigarettes in nine African countries including Nigeria, Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and the United Arab Emirates. Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa is also one of Africa’s leading philanthropists. He has helped communities to uplift themselves in fields such as education, food security, afforestation, and water-access. Through his non-profit foundation, Tribert also strives to help young people to gain the practical engineering experience required to enter the job market in Africa.
Ayabatwa most recently answered Uganda President Yoweri Museveni’s call to the business community to help fight the COVID-19 battle by contributing financially to the Uganda National Response Fund. Similarly, Ayabatwa contributed medical equipment and food to Nigeria’s battle against Covid19. With the help of businessmen like Ayabatwa, the call to stand together and to support those in need during the battle against COVID-19 is being answered.
Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa was recently quoted in a press release that ”he appreciated President Museveni’s efforts to curb the spread of Coronavirus. This fight must involve both the government and business sectors - we must all play our part to defeat the Coronavirus.”
David Himbara : [email protected]