Businesses need to safeguard against Coronavirus disruption

06 March 2020 2 min. read
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Associate Consultant at Mercer South Africa Didintle Kwape has urged organisations across the continent to prepare their businesses for disruption from the rapidly spreading COVID -19 virus (Coronavirus). The measures are to protect African economies from disruptions in the global economy.

The Coronavirus has now spread across the globe, breaking up supply chains and causing severe economic damage. Wuhan itself is a major transportation hub for more than 6,000 global companies, and subsequent lockdowns and restricted travel in regions across the globe has had tremendous repercussions

Estimates have placed the economic damage to major economies across the globe in the billions. One reason for the extent of this economic damage is that most businesses have been caught unaware, lacking a contingency plan for an event like this. Mercer reports that more than half of the world’s businesses lack a protocol for a global emergency.

The virus’s progress in Africa has been slow thus far, and Kwape recommends that businesses move to develop contingency plans before it inevitably makes its way to the continent. For Kwape, this preparation involves initiative from every rung of an organisation’s hierarchy.

Businesses need to safeguard against Coronavirus disruption

Most employees rely on their business’ leadership to devise plans for such scenarios, although Kwape recommends that they should contribute by independently perusing the news and health advisories being put out by the World Health Organisation and other such bodies.

Not only does this help protect the organisation as a whole, but it also prevents the spread of panic through rumours and fake news. While most companies across the globe lack a contingency plan for such a global emergency, most have encouraged working from home and minimising travel where possible.

“As of today, there have been only a few cases of coronavirus reported in Africa. However, we have seen the negative impact on businesses that the coronavirus outbreak has caused in other parts of the world. It is important for organisations in Africa to also be prepared in case an outbreak like this occurs. Having a solid business continuity plan (BCP) in place that focusses equally on operations and employees will help organisations navigate effectively during these challenging times,” said Kwape.

For South Africa, some of the worst hit sectors are likely to be travel and tourism, given the large share of high-spending Chinese tourists that visit each year. The overall commodities and trade sector is also likely to suffer, as China remains South Africa's largest trade partner.