AFI Deputy Executive Director Norbert Mumba delivers his opening remarks during the 1st virtual meeting of AFI Public-Private Dialogue (PPD).

The 1st virtual meeting of AFI Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) - Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19: Implications and Response Measures for MSMEs 

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Opening Remarks by Norbert Mumba, Deputy Executive Director, AFI

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good day and welcome to the 1st Virtual PPD Meeting on “Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19: Implications and Response Measures for MSMEs ”.

Let me start by thanking everyone for making time, regardless of the differences in time zones and circumstances around how and where we work, to attend this AFI-PPD meeting. The AFI Management Unit recognizes and appreciates this effort, as it is an evidence of a fruitful cooperation between AFI members and AFI private sector partners in the midst  of COVID-19 crisis. 

I also wish to acknowledge the presence of our PPD partners  present  VISA, MASTERCARD, GSMA, Thunes, Ant Financials. The AFI Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) Platform is uniquely designed to facilitate frank and focused conversations among public and private stakeholders on key financial inclusion issues. During this crisis, the PPD Platform will help us to address current mitigation measures and identify the policy implementation gaps, including the gender sensitive ones, that public and private sectors could facilitate from both macro and strategic perspectives,  to ensure the gains of financial inclusions uptake are sustained.

It is exciting to  that over 200 members of AFI working groups and regional initiatives, and representatives of private sector partners are in attendance. It attests to the relevance of AFI as a member-driven network, committed to active engagements in advancing financial inclusion at national, regional and international levels through knowledge exchange, peer learning, and cooperation with the stakeholders that share our aspiration to advance financial inclusion worldwide.

The cooperation is especially important now amidst the crisis brought to the global economy by COVID-19. More than 90% of AFI member countries have been affected by the coronavirus with a total number of reported cases counting to over 175,000 as of today . It represents a 10% increase since the invitations for this Virtual Meeting were disseminated across the Network almost a week ago. 

What started as an alarming health crisis has already turned into a dramatic economic crisis, and following the Corona Virus pandemic, we have to battle an economic downturn.  Early estimates indicate, that the economic crisis may be more significant than the global financial crisis of 2007/08, global GDP may contract by 6.2%, implying a loss of $4.1 trillion in 2020. We already see many markets turbulent because of a direct or indirect effect of COVID-19. The drastic decline in oil price is one prominent whereby oil producers are starting to pay buyers to take the commodity off their ‘hands’.  

The economic downturn has already started to negatively impact emerging and developing economies this will undoubtedly impact growth in most of our economies. In the words of IMF “we expect global economic activity to decline at a scale we have not seen since the Great Depression”. While many economic sectors are being shocked, the crisis disproportionally affects micro, small, and medium enterprises, which are the backbone of many economies, including AFI member countries. Among the MSMEs, the crisis will badly hurt women-led companies. Women are already  economically  disadvantaged  across the globe, and the structural inequalities  will only be amplified by the impact of COVID-19.

Despite the gloom, there is hope! This webinar series is timely with the specific objectives of highlighting policy responses that will create an enabling environment for  MSME particularly those led by women to recover and build resilience to external shock from crises. The discussion will also focus on the private sector business solutions that facilitate MSMEs resilience, especially that of women-led MSMEs to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Additionally we also hope to address key implementation challenges and devise actions to address the gaps, particularly around sex-disaggregated data and the informal economy.

I will end by emphasing what we already know, we are in a global crisis that calls for global solutions and partnerships such as AFI-PPD are so critical to foster quick economic recovery to forestall financial instability and reverse the projected negative growth. Undoubtedly COVID-19 has been destructive and with many fatalities but its full effect on economies is yet to unfold. It is therefore an imperative for us to cooperate with our funding partners, public-private partners multi-lateral organisations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to resolve this crisis. 

On this note, I again wish to thank our PPD partners and my colleagues at AFI for making this interaction possible. I will leave you to take forward your deliberations and wish you a fruitful discussion. 

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