Connect with us

Business

Adoption of tech will be critical after pandemic

Published

on

Loading...
Ideas & Debate

Adoption of tech will be critical after pandemic

Working from home
Working from home. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The entry of Covid-19 has surely brought the world to a standstill. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), has already warned that if the disease continues to spread, its central growth forecast for the global economy could be slashed to as low as 1.5 percent.

The world has already experienced the outbreak of disease that brought with it, negative financial impact within this millennium. In 2003, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus, resulted in a global cost of $30 billion, while the Ebola outbreak of 2013—2016 remains associated with lost economic growth in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, in the northwards of $2 billion. In fact, a 2017 article published in the bulletin of the WHO stated that the cumulative economic impact of antimicrobial resistance through to the year 2050, is anticipated to exceed $100 trillion, if no global intervention measures are put in place.

Covid-19 has now compelled many countries to put their entire populations on lockdown; others are said to follow suit, in the coming days. No one can be absolutely certain that this gigantic quarantine, arguably the greatest test to the West and the world since World War II, will actually work. However, what will ensure the continued existence of businesses and commerce is, telecommuting. In fact, should the world continue to be exposed to the outbreak of disease on the scale of Covid-19, telecommuting, may fast stop being a nice-to-have USP for a business but an essential global requirement.

Telecommuting gained popularity in the 1970s. Employees no longer had to travel to a central location (the office) to work, and were instead able to reach out to their managers and colleagues through the wireline telephony service in use, at the time. Fast forward to the 21 Century, telecommuting as we know it has evolved; the experience is now more enhanced with the advent of data-enabled devices: laptops, tablets and smart phones, all powered by mobile voice and Internet connectivity.

The mobility aspect therein has redefined telecommuting altogether — the ability to work from ‘wherever’, giving fresh impetus to the 1990s phrase “work is something you do, not a place you go to.” A Reuters poll posits that globally, one in five employees telecommute frequently. Some may look at Employee Telecommute Programmes as a measure of cost reduction; organisations playing their part to reduce their carbon footprints, and enabling their employees to balance their work responsibilities better, with their personal lives and family obligations. That may be true. However, the hard reality is that the older generations are being prepared for the inevitable — a new breed of millennials that will redefine what, how and where it means to get the job done. The location will no longer be an issue.

Loading...
advertisement


With the lockdown, one other basic activity has also been impacted — education. Covid-19 has led to arguably the single largest common duration of global school closures. However, there is a silver lining here for our children and others in pursuit of higher learning. As global Internet penetration levels improve, education experts have to admit that e-learning will have to become the new normal.

E-learning considers all forms of online, Web-based and technology delivered instruction. Other than the obvious fact that the student is able to continue with their learning schedule away from their conventional brick and mortar school, it has been proven to increase accessibility to learners, who would also be in a position to refer to past teacher-student sessions posted online, thereby leading to better retention. The personalised approach that e-learning brings also ensures that the learner navigates their own path, thereby remaining vested in their studies. Governments will therefore have to take a hard look at their future investments, to see how best to adopt e-learning on a broad scale, for the long term.

Moreover, as the world’s economies continue to grapple with Covid-19, there will be reduced trade revenue, increased financial market shocks, increased all-cause morbidity and a loss of cost-wages. All these pointing to negative impact on global investment initiatives. However, business transactions are still ongoing at the micro-level; basic purchases at one’s local shop, supermarket, and pharmacy. The red flag here is the continued use of hard cash to make payments.

In Kenya, cash transactions have remained popular with business people making about 95percent of their transactions in cash, as recently as 2016. If there is to be a further reduction in the spread of communicable diseases such as Covid-19, it will be imperative for financial institutions the world over to make a concerted push for the global overhaul of the cash economy and progressively evolve into a cash-lite and eventually cashless economy. It is my prediction that the use of hard cash will fall to southwards of 80 percent in the country.

In Africa, the World Bank, in 2017, estimated that about 90percent of retail transactions in sub-Saharan Africa were cash-based. However, experts also predict that the increasing number of mobile subscribers on the continent could lead to an increase in the mobile money market, and hence a marked reduction in the use of hard cash, across the continent, too.

The writer is digital transformation specialist and MD, Enterprise Division at Telkom Kenya.

Comments

comments

Loading...
Continue Reading

Business

Locusts Stealing Lives: Fears of farmers, herders in Somaliland as a plague looms : The Standard

Published

on

Loading...

Muse Aarinte watched helplessly as a swarm of locusts swept into his village, devouring all the crops, bushes and even the leaves on the trees. Now he fears a plague is coming. Geerisa village, a remote, mud-and-thatch settlement in an arid, breakaway region of Somalia, survived the first outbreak of locusts in January. But Aarinte doesn’t think Geerisa’s 1,900 families will be so lucky when the second wave comes.

Since December, billions of desert locusts have swarmed eastern Africa, ravaging crops, decimating pasture and threatening the livelihoods of more than 20 million people who depend on farming and livestock for their survival.
“The swarm covered the land and sky as far as the eye could see,” said Aarinte, 93, chief of the village of animal herders, 350 km (220 miles) northwest of Hargeisa, capital of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland.
“They ate everything … there was no vegetation left. Soon they will return in bigger numbers. It is a curse sent to take land, livestock and people.”

SEE ALSO :Leaders warn of crisis as locusts raid region

The outbreak, which is the worst in a generation, has seen hungry swarms – some the size of cities – sweeping across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, feasting their way through hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops and grazing land.
The United Nations has called the infestation – which has also affected Uganda, Djibouti, South Sudan, Eritrea and Tanzania, Sudan – “a scourge of biblical proportions”.
But so far limited resources have hampered efforts to fight the locusts, particularly in impoverished Somaliland – and the worst is yet to come.


Bishop who fought for Kenyans  

A second generation of the insects – about 20 times larger – has spawned in countless pockets across the Horn of Africa. Within weeks, they will reach adulthood and take flight.
“The timing could not be worse. The second wave coincides with the planting season and the rains which are due in April,” said Daniel Molla, food security and nutrition advisor for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

SEE ALSO :We must make bold choices this year to secure our future

“The swarms will wipe clean the vegetation just as it is sprouting. Farmers will have nothing to harvest and pastoralist communities will find little for their animals to eat.”
Molla warned that if the swarms are not destroyed in coming weeks, the population of the insects could increase 400-fold by June, turning the infestation into a full-fledged regional plague, which would be more difficult and expensive to contain.
BANGING POTS, BURNING RUBBISH
Locust swarms are not new to Somaliland, a poor, drought-prone region of 4.5 million people, nestled along Africa’s northeast coast with the Gulf of Aden.
But climate scientists have warned that erratic weather linked to global warming has created ideal conditions for the insects to surge in numbers not seen in a quarter of a century.

SEE ALSO :County official dismisses senator’s claims of graft in Wajir

Warmer seas have led to more cyclones in the Indian Ocean, causing heavy rainfall along the Arabian peninsula and the Horn of Africa, producing the perfect environment for breeding.
Since crossing the Gulf of Aden into eastern Africa in December, the swarms – which can travel up to 150 km (93 miles) in a day – have devoured fields filled with crops such as maize, millet and sorghum, and stripped bare grazing land.
A swarm of a square kilometre contains 40-80 million locusts and can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people.
One horde sighted in northern Kenya this year was reportedly 2,400 square km – more than twice the size of Paris or New York, according to the FAO.
The pests have severely hit communities across the climate-vulnerable region who were already reeling from three consecutive years of droughts and floods.

SEE ALSO :Locust invasion: State ditches guns for aerial sprays

Loading...

“The swarm that came here was so big it blocked out the sun,” said Abdi Shakur Muhammed, chief of Botor village, a dusty hamlet of a few traditional huts made of branches and animal hides, 65 km northwest of Hargeisa.
“We tried waving the locusts off the crops. Some people banged on pots, others burned rubbish hoping the smoke would drive them away. Some people prayed. But there were so many of them, it was impossible.”
By the time the swarm took off the next day, Botor’s 600 families had lost 60% of their harvest of maize, millet, beans and vegetables, he said.
“Only Allah will have the power to save us if it happens again,” he added.
Muhammed is right to be worried.
A few hours drive away, across the rugged, desert plains dotted with nomads herding camels, sheep and goats, a second generation of locusts has spawned in Awdal region, near Somaliland’s coast.
Thousands of the pink-tinged insects – not full adults yet – hop and flutter in a patch of scrub, learning how to fly.
“The first wave of locusts laid their eggs here. You can see how the offspring is now maturing. By April, they will have flown,” said Mohamed Mohamoud, director of Somaliland’s plant protection department, as the insects flittered around him.
“Based on predictions of the wind, they are expected to then move into Ethiopia and Kenya, causing further devastation there. We need to contain them now, while they are still on the ground.”
RACE AGAINST TIME
But Somaliland has limited capacity.
Although it has operated independently of Somalia since 1991 – with its own president, parliament, currency and international airport – it is not globally recognised as a country.
And despite being relatively safer than Somalia, where civil war and Islamic militancy have raged for almost three decades, Somaliland is often perceived as equally insecure.
A lack of foreign trade and investment, coupled with ineligibility for loans from the World Bank or International Monetary Fund, has meant much of Somaliland remains impoverished and under-developed.
One in three Somalilanders live on less than $1.90 a day, the World Bank’s measure of extreme poverty.
With livestock exports making up 40% of gross domestic product and around half the population dependent on animals for their livelihoods, Somaliland’s Agriculture Minister Ahmed Mumin Seed is worried about the locust infestation.
“As a government, we are compelled to take action against the locust infestation and we have mobilised some funds and manpower, but we have limited resources,” said Seed.
“We still have time to contain them before the end of March/early April. Once they fly off and leave Somaliland and go to the neighbouring countries, it will be beyond our ability to control them.”
The FAO has appealed to international donors for more than $150 million to help the eight east African nations control the outbreak. So far it has raised $110 million.
Even so Somaliland is struggling to respond.
Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda have deployed a handful of planes to kill off swarms through the aerial spraying of pesticides.
But fears of insecurity in Somalia – and Somaliland – have made it hard to find firms willing to contract out aircraft.
Response has, therefore, been limited to ground control operations, with pick-up trucks mounted with sprayers moving through locust-breeding sites, diffusing biopesticides.
But with 80,000 hectares of land to cover and only two vehicles, each with a capacity to spray around 100 hectares in a day, efforts are moving at a snail’s pace as April draws closer.
FAO officials plan to increase the number of vehicles to eight in the coming days, adding that authorities will spray as many locust sites as they can before the insects take off.
One company has agreed to provide an aircraft for aerial spraying, but that it is expected in mid-April, they add.
Geerisa’s Aarinte isn’t optimistic.
“I’ve endured many things in my life. In the 2018 drought, my 1,500 sheep, 20 donkeys and 50 camels starved to death,” he said. “If the locusts come, let them come. We will die together with our animals.” 


Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Standard Digital Telegram channel HERE.

LocustSomalia

Comments

comments

Loading...
Continue Reading

Business

Emirates Receives Govt Bailout to Survive COVID-19

Published

on

Loading...

Dubai’s state-owned airline, Emirates, has received a government bailout to enable it to remain afloat during this COVID-19 pandemic. The airline has seen its passenger fleet grounded since 24th March 2020.

Dubai’s deputy ruler, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said that the government is committed to providing full support by injecting fresh capital into the airline.

Already, the airline has implemented survival measures, including reducing staff salaries by between 25% and 50% for the next three months. Tim Clark, the outgoing president of the airline, will go without pay for the same duration.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says that airlines worldwide might need close to $200 billion (KSh20.8 trillion) capital injection for them to remain afloat in this COVID-19 pandemic.

Loading...

Emirates is a state-owned airline based in Garhoud, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is a subsidiary of The Emirates Group. It is also the largest airline in the Middle East, and the world’s fourth-largest airline by scheduled revenue passenger-kilometers flown.

See Also:

Airlines Need $200 Billion to Survive

COVID-19 Continues to Take a Toll on African Airlines

Comments

comments

Loading...
Continue Reading

Business

Nyandarua food reserves at risk of locust invasion

Published

on

Loading...
Counties

Nyandarua food reserves at risk of locust invasion

Food reserves in Nyandarua County
Food reserves in Nyandarua County are running low following the locust invasion that hit the agriculture-rich region. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Food reserves in Nyandarua County are running low following the locust invasion that hit the agriculture-rich region, with some sectors recording a yield drop of up to 75 percent.

By March 20, the county had a balance of 315,600 90-kilogramme bags of maize in the hands of farmers and traders, against an annual consumption of 765,948 bags. Beans stocks were 1,693 bags against 314,842 demanded per year.

Loading...

If the locust and lately coronavirus disruptions continue, the county’s agriculture office estimates that Kinangop Constituency with a population of 205,295 people according to the 2019 Census will be the first to run out of staple despite high farming potential due to a favourable climate.

The Nyandarua County Food Situation report showed that as at March 20, Kinangop had 45,800 bags of maize, 350 bags of beans and 10,000 bags of potato to feed the population for two and half months.

advertisement


Besides the high population factor, Kinangop Constituency mainly specialises in horticultural farming for local use and exports.

However, production and markets were affected by a snail invasion early in the year and now the Covid-19 pandemic.

Comments

comments

Loading...
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Loading...
Advertisement
Loading...

Trending