Kusi Festival to examine impact of Covid-19 on African economies

Tuesday December 01 2020
Stephen Gitagama.

Nation Media Group CEO Stephen Gitagama makes his closing remarks for the first Kusi Ideas Festivals at Itare Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, on December 9, 2019. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The Nation Media Group is set to hold the second edition of the Kusi Ideas Festival on December 8-9. This year's conference will focus on examining the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on African economies and livelihoods.

The conference, which will be held in Kisumu, western Kenya, with the theme of “Towards a Post-Covid Africa: Recovering Together,” will explore how the continent can recover from the crisis.

The Kusi Ideas Festival seeks to build a “Pan-African ideas transaction market” to capitalise on the opportunities and innovations available to Africa to help it win in the 21st Century.

Kusi Festival also seeks to contribute to shaping the agenda that will enable Africa be a leading player in global politics and economics. The Festival comes at a time when the continent has been ravaged by Covid-19, with slightly over two million people infected and about 50,000 dead.

The impact on economies has been severe with some countries witnessing significant contractions that have led to massive job losses and pushing more people into extreme poverty.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Africa faces a rough road to recovery with the region projected to post a negative three percent growth in 2020, representing the worst outcome on record.


The drop will be even bigger for economies dependent on tourism and commodity exports.

“As the region looks toward the future, uncertainty over the path of the pandemic continues to loom over an enduring recovery,” said the IMF in its Regional Economic Outlook last month.

It is amid these challenges that the hybrid in-person and virtual Kusi Ideas Festival conference will be held in collaboration with the County Government of Kisumu. The conference will bring together a high-powered delegation of speakers, among them Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame.

Other speakers are Raila Odinga, Africa Union high representative for Infrastructure Development and Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development secretary general.

More speakers

The conference will also be attended by Prof Anyang Nyong’o, host Governor, County Government of Kisumu. Notable speakers are Clare Akamanzi, chief executive officer, Rwanda Development Board; Khazanah Research Institute senior adviser Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Malaysia’ Matsi Modise, founder and CEO, Furaha Afrika Holdings - South Africa; Dr Catherine Kyobutungi, executive director, African Population and Health Research Center – Uganda; Dr Ally-Said Matano, executive secretary of the EAC, Lake Victoria Basin Commission and Tewolde GabreMariam, Group chief executive officer, Ethiopian Airlines.

The overall theme has been fleshed out into three key sub-themes with the top being health, in which the conference will dissect the incidence of Covid-19 in Africa, resilience of the populace and look at Africa’s exemplars in the pandemic among them Rwanda, Senegal, Ethiopia and Liberia.

The pandemic has stretched the health systems in some countries like South Africa and Kenya to the limits, a development that has resulted in calls for more investments in the health sector, enhancing of equitable access to care and improving readiness to prevent and control outbreaks.

The second will be discovering Africa's hidden strengths and resilience, environmental sustainability, smart cities among others with the third sub-theme being re-engineering Africa's future in which it will seek to explore what is next for the continent, future outlook, acceleration of digital transformation and impact on economies.

This is based on the fact that despite an uncertain outlook, the potential of Africa and the resourcefulness of its people remain clear, a belief that the continent will find its way back to a path of green, sustainable and inclusive development. Nation Media Group launched the Kusi Ideas Festival last year as part of its 60th anniversary celebrations, starting a journey to build a pan-African ideas transaction market to capitalise on the opportunities and innovations available to Africa to help the continent win in the 21st century.