COVID-19 brings Work-From-Home to Africa; What has been the impact on businesses so far?
The ongoing global health crisis has pierced through the fabric of every layer of society, leaving virtually no country unscathed. The consequences for businesses and productivity in numerous sectors has been significant and African economies have had to make rapid changes to their way of doing business.
Africa Business Communities consults with CEOs and Founders on the continent and here's what they had to say on the new status quo:
“Here at PayBox, COVID-19 impressed on us the need to move to market quickly. Practically, there is no better time than now for SMEs in Ghana and across Africa to digitize. In addition, COVID-19 gave us the needed perspective to restructure our customer acquisition strategy. An era where potential clients work remotely means we had to engage them innovatively. With the right customer segmentation and user personas, we have been able to align on how to target our primary customers.
“I’d also comment that the pandemic has revealed the cracks within Africa’s digital ecosystem. Current areas for improvement include internet coverage and cost, governments’ digitization agenda and digital literacy. The lapses in these areas have been greatly exposed by COVID-19 and how it affects the business landscape, revenue and GDP.
“Lastly, we haveseen the benefits of remote work or Work from Home (WFH), including cutting commute costs and stress, as well as offering greater flexibility. However, it is important to also consider that as humans we crave and need in-person social interaction. This contributes to creating team bonds and helping us tangibly identify as part of a larger goal. These are the kinds of organizational pillars we are seeing get lost as we have transitioned to digital collaboration. Adopting a balance between both is the wholesome direction we should pursue.” - Esinam Yevu, Co-Founder, PayBox, Ghana
“COVID-19 has affected many industries in Africa and highlighted many unresolved issues. The pandemic has caused governments, businesses and policy makers to reflect on local challenges and establish strategies that address those challenges. For example, today they understand that Africa must embrace the digital age and technologies for productions and services such as banking, retail, education, agriculture and health, as well as public services. These industries have an impact on the economic growth on the continent.
As for working from home, I cannot say if it is a positive or negative trend. I think this experience teaches us a lot in terms of collaboration. We understand that working remotely does not necessarily replace collaboration in the physical workplace. I would say that remote work offers companies the possibility of reducing certain costs (equipment, internet, rent, security, etc.) and allows more agility and flexibility in the employee's working methods. One important thing though is that companies analyze the productivity of their employees according to the two modes of work and apply the mode that works best for the well-being of the company.” - Charlette N’Guessan, Co-founder, BACE Group, Ghana
“The Mauritian banking sector has in fact reacted very well and adapted to the situation created by the pandemic. At all levels, from operation to regulatory and support, the sector has learned to operate within the ‘new normal’. Many operators have successfully moved into the work-from-home mode while maintaining the high standards of service level. We have to say that Mauritius has been most agile at getting this done. The use of technology has also been enhanced and this will be very positive once we move past the pandemic phase.” - Mahesh Doorgakant, Chairman, Mauritius Finance
“Covid-19 has certainly taught us something about our own sustainability. And I'll say this goes beyond the infrastructure deficit. It highlighted the need for digital inclusion, as many SMEs would have benefited from e-commerce activities. Many businesses would have accessed grants from the government to keep afloat till things stabilized during the pandemic.
And then there's the issue of working remotely, something very rarely seen in Nigeria before 2020. I believe that this new trend has been a positive change. You find certain aspects of physical work environment have become mundane. New-age offices are designed to give the workers a relaxed environment to work mimicking the home environment. Working digitally also aids in speeding up certain aspects of business expansion with reduced need to invest in unnecessary infrastructure, though this would depend on the services offered.” - Victoria Epelle, Founder, Market Forward, Nigeria
At Sudan Digital, we are a pure play digital marketing agency, focusing on marketing strategy, and delivering impact to our customers through innovative digital solutions. Covid-19 has been surprisingly positive for us from a strictly business perspective. The increased demand for digital marketing services has resulted in a significant growth in our client base since the crisis began two years ago." - Abdelaziz Musa, CEO, Sudan Digital
Do you have an opinion on how the ongoing pandemic has impacted your business in/with Africa? Send us your comment here and we'll be happy to publish!