Saturday, December 5th, 2020 was devoted to outstanding economic scholarship as the Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria (ICEN) held its 40th mandatory seminar and induction programme for 2020, in Kaduna State. One major hallmark of the ceremony was the seminar themed “Promoting Economic Development Resilience in the face of a global pandemic: Nigeria in Focus.” Central to discussions were the forward-thinking insights of economic analysts on the COVID19 pandemic and its ravaging impacts on Nigeria’s economic growth, the rest of the world, and the inevitable emergence of Digital Economics.
A major highlight of the seminar, amongst other guest speakers, was the topic “The Effects of COVID19 Pandemic on Nigerian Economic Development Program: The Way Forward” presented by Lead Promoter of The EnergyHub Platform, Dr. Engr. Felix Valentine.
According to Dr. Felix, the “Health is Wealth” expression must begin to take on new and impactful meanings beyond Nigeria’s health sector, into her communities, and national economics. It was abstract to speak economic resilience without considering the medical and health economics of a nation. As demonstrated in 2020, the health of the people is in fact, the wealth of nations.
On Medical & Health Economics
For Dr. Felix, medical economics should be robustly equipped for current and impending health crises like COVID19 such that every society can redefine and expand the role of its medical and health officer. To adjust to the “new normal,” our medical awareness must accept new realities.
“Everyone must be the medical officer of their families, business units, communities, and societies.” This also foreshadows our collective responsibility as citizens and community members in ensuring safety health measures, social distancing, and other sanitary practices are enforced from units as small as families to businesses, and up to institutions. At this level, health education and awareness must not be restricted to health sectors. Every family must be a health institution on their scale to contain the pandemic.
Speaking on the uniqueness of our time, Dr. Felix opined that the connectivity of our global economy, and trade, although advantageous to economic growth and expansion, also helps accelerate the spread of infectious diseases in pandemic proportions. “The ability to travel across local and international markets in minutes and hours can frustrate efforts to curb the pandemic.”
On international economics, Dr. Felix believes a paradigm shift may have already happened. However, the pandemic unraveled the strengths, the genuine economic potentials, and the fragility of modern international economies.
In this case, the “new normal” might not be business as usual for countries regarded as economic powers. How nations responded and combated the virus will shape how the new economic power will be perceived. Thus, the pandemic may have created room for economists to re-evaluate the indices used in defining economic advancement and prowess in present modern economics.
The Nigerian Economy
There might also be a new definition of poverty in the post-covid era for Nigeria. This might include those who have been tragically hit by the economic disruptions of the pandemic in employment, business, and other sectors.
On the way forward, Dr. Felix holds the idea of diversification as we near a time where fossil fuels (Nigeria’s chief income source) is getting backlash across the globe. The nation must begin deliberate steps towards strengthening sectors like agriculture while incentivizing foreign investors with an enabling environment. To rescue the nation from its current status as Poverty Capital of the World, the nation must adopt a synchronized approach to its policy-making such that all sectors can feel the impact of government policies.
Ultimately, the need to fully embrace science and technology in Nigeria was already overdue. To compete globally, the nation must recognize the role of digital economics and tech advancements in fast-paced economies like China, and the U.S.A, and adjust.
The role of digital economics in COVID19 cannot be easily overlooked using the growth trajectories of 2020 tech giants like Amazon, Zoom, and Facebook. The new field also gives fresh perspectives on its potentials in the future of human economics, the place of virtual realities in lockdown economies, and more. Digital Economy is likely to be a viable economic recovery strategy for forward-thinking economies in the new normal.