With the prevailing COVID19 pandemic and the inherent economic effects of the lock down instituted in some states in Nigeria, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) has partnered with the private sector to help to mitigate against some of the economic problems citizens will face going forward.
As far back as 2015, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals identified the private sector as a contributor to the success of the SDGs following observations across the world, where private companies had implemented successful and thriving Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects with little or no involvement of the host governments. This served as a reminder of the critical role the private sector plays in addressing development issues globally, and COVID-19 has reminded us in Nigeria, albeit impolitely so.
The past month, philanthropists and private businesses swung into action by providing both financial and technical support to governments that are clearly overwhelmed in combating this pandemic. Billions of Naira have been raised from these interventions, and these generous and well-intended gestures are celebrated. As at 6th April 2020, the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed 238 COVID-19 cases. However, there is concern that this number may rise exponentially in the coming weeks, if quick, deliberate, drastic and collaborative best practices are nor adhered to.
It’s no news that the new Coronavirus (COVID-19), is ravaging many countries across the world, Nigeria inclusive. As there’s currently no vaccines to prevent the Coronavirus disease. Aggressive measures are being taken to curb the spread of the disease and limit its negative impacts on the heath sector and the economy.
In early March 2020, the pandemic forecasts triggered the Nigerian Economic Summit Group to begin a series of engagements to the private sector and other stakeholders so as to prepare for the looming challenges. The NESG engaged the private sector on how to collaborate with the government to provide support based on four broad priorities:
• Deploying more Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Testing
Facilities with bio-safety procedures
• Expanding Capacity for Contact Tracing, Tracking and
• Scaling Treatment Centres
• Deepening Communication and Messaging.
The NESG’s interventions and other initiatives led to different coalitions, including the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), which has risen to support the Nigerian Government efforts in the fight to eradicate Coronavirus from Nigeria. CACOVID whose objectives are to: Mobilise private sector thought leadership, mobilise private sector resources, support Government effort, increase general public awareness, education and buy-in, and provide direct support to private and public healthcare’s ability to respond to the crisis. The members of the private sector who have been proactive towards the cause include NESG members such as: Dangote Foundation, United Bank for Africa, Shell, Exxon Mobil, BUA, Sterling Bank, First Bank and Airtel among others.
The NESG believes that with sustained efforts from the private sector and active collaboration with the government and citizens, Nigeria and the world will not only be able to manage the economic effects of the pandemic, but also defeat the COVID19 together.