IndustriALL Calls for Economic Transformation in Post-Covid-19 Africa,

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  • Decries Fuel, Energy Price Increases in Nigeria
Comrade Aremu
Comrade Aremu

AS most African countries are gradually easing out of lockdown occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, IndustriALL has cautioned African leaders against implementing socio-economic policy measures that have for decades undermined the continent’s capacity to respond existential challenges in terms of protection of lives and livelihoods.

Addressing a virtual meeting of Africa Regional Executive Council of IndustriALL Global Union, which was anchored in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the week end, Comrade Issa Aremu, Vice President of IndustriALL Global Union, cautioned against what he called a return to “business as usual,” which he said include implementation of policies such as the deregulation of fuel price and electricity tariff in Nigeria and the alleged mismanagement of five billion rand (US$299 million) award of tenders to supply the government with personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa.

Comrade Aremu, who was the immediate past General Secretary of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) called on Nigerian trade unions to resist the recent fuel price hike and South African unions to protest against “Coronavirus corruption” in South Africa. He added that recovery of African economies is only possible “through enhanced purchasing power of citizens through lower prices and transparency in corporate and national governance.”

The Covid-19 pandemic, Aremu observed, has impacted negatively on mining sector in South Africa, which has led to some mines completely shutting down thereby leaving some workers with little resources after toiling in the mines for many years, reduced working hours and retrenchment in automobile, textile and garment sectors, oil and gas sector in Nigeria and Kenya.

Aremu noted that what Africa needs under the “new normal” is a radical departure from “the past unhelpful neoliberal economics of liberalization, deregulation and high prices, factory closures and export orientation into urgent diversification, import substitution, re-industrialization and beneficiation. This is the time to re-inflate the African economy as commendably being done by the  African central banks in the wake of Covid-19 and not a panicky contraction as wrongly being proposed by some fiscal authorities based on the advice of IMF and World Bank”.

Hails re-election of Adeshina

While hailing the re-election of Nigeria’s Adewunmi Adeshina as the President of African Development Bank (AfDB) as a victory for Africa, Aremu commended the bank’s approval of a $10 billion facility to support African countries to address issues arising from Covid-19 pandemic. He said in the coming years, the bank must deepen its partnership with organised labour, civil society as well as businesses.

“With the disruptions of global supply chain, AfDB must rise to promote agricultural and industrial revolution in the continent. Global resources must be allocated for real economy rather than bailing out financial institutions. All financial institutions including AfDB must place employment and decent work at the centre of macro-economic policies alongside emergency debt relief to enable African countries to return to the path of development,” Aremu said, adding that all AFDB projects “must ensure secured, decent and full employment to get African youths back to work away from insurgency and ill-informed desperate immigrations.”

In her report the Regional Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, Comrade Paule Ndessomin, noted that the impact of Covid-19 is not gender “neutral” adding that gender violence during the pandemic deepened as she called for an intensified union campaign against gender-based violence.

Comrade Ndessomin also called for more investment in communication infrastructure in Africa if the continent is to reap the benefits of digitalisation. She said for effective organising, trade unions under the “new normal” must invest in equipment, devices, software, and data. “Countries should have infrastructure for telecommunications for us to be able to have sustainable meetings. This remains a challenge in our region because of intermittent disconnections. Sometimes this is worsened by our energy infrastructure that has limited capacity and is often unreliable”.

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