COVID-19 – on 31 December 2019, a cluster of pneumonia cases of unknown aetiology was reported in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. On 9th January 2020, China CDC reported a novel coronavirus as the causative agent of this outbreak. It was baptised the coronavirus disease 2019 and given the sobriquet COVID-19.
And three months into the COVID-19 identification it has infected and killed many people, including in mighty countries.
COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented global medical crisis. Nations, including our Uganda, have been on lockdown for weeks, and the status quo is likely to continue for a few more weeks.
While Africa and Uganda have until now been spared the adverse effects of the disease – experts are warning that it’s just a matter of time, before it hits Africa hard.
Now, God bless our Uganda – with only 55 ICUs and 13 trained acute care nurses. The latter is our nation’s capacity, and as usual, we can only pray to God for a miracle. There have been miracles before, and we have to believe and obey – we may yet get more miracles, after all, we are Africa, and Uganda in particular – right?
Yes, we are dealing with a horrendous disease, that medical experts don’t understand well and aren’t always confident that they can save those sick of the illness, especially the ones that require ventilation. Apparently, two-thirds of ventilated COVID-19 patients in America ultimately die. What could it be when it hits Uganda?
In Ugandan Bantu tribal speak, COVID-19 has earned itself the name ‘WALUMBE’
But, is it all doom and gloom?
We at the Effectiveness lab opine that despite all the doom and gloom in the world, including in the pearl-of-Africa, Uganda, there are various upshots to the COVID-19-Dracula corollary.
We only need spectacles that see such opportunity. While COVID-19 is so devilish, we shouldn’t be too blinded that we choose not to see the several opportunities right in front of us
- The professional work eco-system
We have so far spent this Holy April month working at home. And while we don’t know what the experience has been for you all readers of this blog, ours has been an even busier life than we lived when working from the real “work office”. The work pressures we experience as professionals have been unrelenting, even in the “home office.”
However, there is one undeniable reality; It’s now evident that we can work from our homes, and be equally, if not more productive than we are when working in our standard “work-office” spaces. Yes, it’s still brick and mortar at home, but under a completely different set of circumstances, and all the accompanying positive resource implications.
We don’t have to spend our most productive hours, in the Kampala traffic jam; we don’t have to burn fuel, polluting further our already abused city environment; we don’ t have to absorb all the pressure and accompanying mental stress caused by the nightmare of the city commute. We suspect that blood-pressure for borderline and actual patients is on a downward trajectory.
And if I were the business owner paying rent in the traditionally costly Kampala CBD, I would be asking why I should continue doing so, if I can get the same results as in the office, when people work at home. Organisations employing knowledge workers will surely want to explore if they should continue to pay rent, and even if they did, whether to keep the same number of square meters of office space.
The more entrepreneurial amongst you may already see the opportunity in mobile-office space; if I were a business owner in Uganda today, and more so in the knowledge industry, I would strongly consider looking for office space to rent but on a need basis. Use the office on the days or hours I require work-space and free up space for others when I’m not in need.
The above is a niche we have seen emerge in other markets; it may be the time to see the same in Uganda and other parts of the Great Lakes region
- Technology leverage
Of course, technology is a critical enabler to our ability to effectively work from our homes. At this time of crisis, we are all either Zooming, Skyping, Teams’ ing or Webexing our lives away. The latter may become the new normal and the cause of increased human stress and blood pressure. We have to be careful not to overdo it, folks.
But we want to look at the opportunity that leveraging technology brings to the “elite” education sub-sector
We have our daughters at home – learning virtually and apart from missing out on the one-to-one social interaction, they have coped remarkably well, and learning hasn’t been compromised at all. The other day, we observed one of our daughters taking a business class that tackled compound interest rates. And, as well she was at home for that.
We were able to chime in with real-life examples of what happens in the real banking environment. Remember, we are also working at home and we did co-teaching, an expectation at the type of school they attend.
The school and others are talking of doing exams online in the event the lockdown isn’t lifted soon. The kids complained, as expected, about the lack of one-to-one interface and the school has already moved to address that – I believe via ‘something’ Google.
So – if they have effectively been educated at home, and so very well, why do we want to go back to school full-time, and pay a hefty bill for unnecessary things, like Monday – Friday facilities usage, etc.? Post COVID-19, kids can study for several days at home and check-in at school for two or so days. The latter is a sound proposition now.
Of course, the constructively critical will be quick to point out that there has to be synchronicity for the above work – and we agree. For example, for the homeschooling model to work, one or both parents have to work from home, there has to be more reliable internet, appropriate learning spaces at home, etc.
There is also opportunity in economics/business as well as society in general. Let us deal with the two and others, next week, in Series 2
In conclusion, are you waiting for the lockdown to end and return to business as usual?
Now, If you come out of this COVID-19 lockdown unchanged, not re-invented or re-engineered – it may not be far fetched to opine that you have failed to take advantage of opportunity put on a silver platter
Indeed, the world and Uganda abound with opportunity for those with the right entrepreneurial spectacles