…Initiative Will Be All Inclusive, Cater For PWDs- Auta

In an effort to address the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the African Union Economic Social and Cultural Council (AU-ECOSOCC) has launched an Economic Impact Accessment situation room to gather first hand information of sectors affected adversely by the pandemic.

At the launch, held in Nigeria recently, Chairman, AU Ecosocc Nigeria, Covid-19 Response Team, Daniel Omofoman said there was no doubt that Covid-19 has taken a toll on businesses, adding that it was the driving force for the initiative.

“Basically what we have done here today is to unveil the Economic Impact Assessment programme, which is running on multiple platforms. We have 9am-4pm Call centre and also we have online questionnaires.

“We understand how far this pandemic has gone and for this reason my committee and the foundation decided to work to see how we can support or otherwise complement the efforts of the Nigerian government in coming up with a unique strategy that will assess the impact of Covid-19 across sub-sectors of the economy; the hotels, hospitality and tourism.

“Also we focused on Agric and businesses and also we are looking at ICT businesses,” he said.

Omofoman, who gave a demonstration of how the call centre in the situation room works, said the information gathered from there will serve as a guide to know what form of support they need post-Covid-19.

“Some need payroll support, some need equipment lease finance, some need recapitalization, some even need tax waivers,” he added.

On his part, the Nigeria Rep of the AU ECOSOCC, Dr. Tunji Asaolu, said the Solutions and Remedy Committee of the AU-ECOSOCC Nigeria Covid-19 teams, designed and set up the Covid-19 Economic Impact Assessment project by using adaptable technology tools with evidence based procedures via call centres and automated questionnaires.

Asaolu also called on international partners particularly the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to augment and support the private sectors in Africa with a specific focus on Nigeria, saying that most businesses have been adversely affected by the pandemic.

“Once we collate these things and put them together, then we will be able to see how we can approach government and other relevant agencies. So this information will guide us on the next step of action we are going to take in order to assist these small businesses,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the Agricultural sector, the Chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Lawal Abuyantaba expressed optimism that the initiative will go a long way to address the sector, which according to him, is the worst hit by the pandemic.

“The farmers are among the vulnerable members of the society who constitute the majority of those impacting the food system. The farmers will require palliatives as well as inputs to be able to sustainably upgrade agricultural production,” he said.

Adding her voice, National Disability Coordinator of the AU-ECOSOCC Nigeria Covid-19 Response Team, Lois Auta commended the launch of the situation room, saying that aside been inclusive, it will ensure that no one is left behind.

“The unveiling of the Call Centre which is very inclusive; we have an innovative idea that is going to capture the data of persons with disability and other stakeholders,” she said.

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