African SMEs’ Performance and Behaviors during COVID-19

● Education Discontinuity: Many young children had to stay home during the pandemic lockdown. How did the working parents manage this situation along with their work obligations? If these children had to follow school from home, what was the impact on time consecrated to work obligations and helping children with their assignments and education? On another side, how did the families manage shared technological resources such as laptops, PCs and tablets? ● Training and Professional Development: Human Resource consultants strongly advised that the pandemic period is the best period to conduct training and to bring to level the competencies and capabilities of the company employees. Specifcally, digital skills seemed to become important to master for corporations to be able to adapt to the new pandemic imperative. Was this phenomenon also true for African SMEs? How did it manifest itself? What were the trends regarding Training and Professional Development? ● Lack of consistency / clarity in confnement measures / hours of functioning / curfew / measures to be implemented to close down and to reopen etc. It was long dwelled on the many changes introduced by the governments to control the spreading of the virus during the COVID-19 pandemic. This involved many confnement measures that were controversial. Like closing down the restaurants and other retail shops, while keeping some other. During the Holy month of Ramadan, the confnement hours got extended to allow for families to gather during Iftar in Egypt. Similarly, measures implemented were announced and often changed shortly after. It seemed that governments were facing the pandemic (at least in its early stages) with a trial-and-error approach. Some of these measures were subject to lobbying from infuential business leaders to get loosened. In our surveys we try to track the reality that the lockdown and confnement measures have been created on African SMEs. ● Taxes and government duties: Many governments recurred to tax reliefs and economic stimulus to curb the downward efect of the COVID-19 pandemic. How far could African governments go into this pathway? What tools did the diferent African governments’ exactly use? Were there any specifc measures targeted towards SMEs? If yes, what was the magnitude of the impact of such measures? ● Lack of business continuity plans and guidance: The discovery of the critical role that Business Continuity Plans play during the health crisis was prominently put forward as one of the axes organizations should master. Resuming business operations and services as usual, as much as possible, is of critical importance too. It is imperative to continue servicing clients, minimize business interruption and halt possible negative impacts on the company’s bottom line. Through the survey tool we try to uncover whether the African SMEs were well equipped with Business Continuity Plans adapted for the Coronavirus outbreak situation. ● Access to health and safety information and services: Response activities to the COVID-19 pandemic typically included personal protection through physical distancing and hand washing coupled with respiratory precautions through face covering. Increased testing and screening with contact tracing are fundamental to transmission control, and this has been variably combined with “locking down” of public places including educational establishments, retail outlets, factories and ofces combined with closure of borders and quarantining suspected persons. As governments in developed countries were issuing workplace safety guidance and making information available, we wanted to learn about what happened with regards to African SMEs? What kind of information was made available? What kind of health services congruent with the pandemic was made available? And how did this beneft / hinder the SMEs from working during the COVID-19 outbreak. On another note, there are also concerns with the reliability of the data among some of the African countries due to limited detection capacity and reliable tests as well as under-reporting of both deaths and prevalence rates. There have been concerns with the reliability of testing equipment as well.


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