The Department of Public Administration and Health Services Management, PAHSM, at the University of Ghana Business School, UGBS, hosted the COVID, Business and Society Seminar (COBUSS) Series on 21st May 2020. The seminar sought to discuss issues arising as a result of the global pandemic, with a special focus on supply chain, global response and decision making. Speakers for the seminar were Professor Sandy Zook, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs of the University of Colorado, Denver, Prof Justice Bawole, Dean of UGBS, and Mr. Ebo Hammond, Director, Health Administration and Support Services of the Ghana Health Service. Professor Bawole and Dr. Kobby Mensah served as facilitators for the webinar.
Prof. Zook spoke on the theme, “Covid-19 Response Coordination with Decentralised Government Authority: Challenges to Data-Based Decision Making. She stated that due to the fact the United States is a federal one, states and cities can make laws independently. As such, this could lead to confused messaging across different levels of government as states and cities are reacting differently to the messages being sent. She also mentioned that states are made to acquire their own protective gear, placing them in competition with one another. This, she said, results in the dip in the ability of government to effectively govern, and in the non-compliance of policies by citizens.
She further added that democratic principles, mainly transparency, openness and citizen participation will aid in building trust between governments and their citizens and will render the government accountable to them and will make them more resilient in times of crisis. She then advocated for racial data to be included in data generation and standardised across all states so they can be easily compared and used in decision making.
Professor Bawole, whose presentation was themed “Covid-19 as a Wicked Problem and the Global Response: Isomorphism to the Rescue?”, began by giving a quick overview of the virus, its features, mode of transmission as well as what puts it in the wicked category. He explained that the virus is wicked as it is “complex, unpredictable and cannot be solved by reference to the logic inherent in the problem” and proceeded to describe the features of wicked problems. He stated that due to the nature of the virus, the global response to the virus was a lockdown to further study and understand the virus.
The Dean continued his presentation by explaining isomorphism and its categories. He then made mention that countries have begun to assess the impact of the lockdown on their economies. He stated that in Africa, the impact of the virus has not been as devastating as a disease like Malaria, which claims an average of 400,000 lives each year therefore, the easing of the lockdown restrictions will enable us to resuscitate the economy as well as tackle the virus. He stressed that countries should take the lead in designing appropriate responses based on their peculiarities, taking into consideration their economic capabilities.
Presenting on the “Impact of Covid-19 on Global Supply chain,” Mr. Ebo Hammond began by giving a brief overview of the Covid-19 virus, as well as supply chain and its structure. He indicated that a major impact of the pandemic on the global supply chain has been huge job losses, loss of productive hours, the slump in oil prices and the slowness of imports and exports among others. He added that in a global value chain, counties do not produce the whole product but, rather, specialise in specific tasks in the product chain. Hence, a shutdown of factories in any particular sector affects other countries even if their borders are open to trade and their factories, operational. This, he mentioned, leads to a reduction in demand for finished goods, semi-finished goods and raw produce
He suggested that strategic responses to the pandemic should include shifting from far-shoring to near-shoring or in-shoring, creation of new alliances, as well as an economic stimulus to boost the economies. He then advised that there was a need to apply learning to build strong supply chain resilience.
The presentations were followed by Question and Answer sessions for each presentation, where the questions of the participants were addressed.
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