American companies working in Ghana under the umbrella of the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) Ghana have risen to the occasion to help the government contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Subsequently, they are providing significant financial support in millions of Ghana cedis, technological and logistical resources to help in the fight.
The Executive Secretary of AMCHAM, Ghana, in a release issued and signed in Accra yesterday quoted the President of the chamber, Ayesha Bedwei, as saying that “AMCHAM Ghana welcomes measures to combat the coronavirus which will ensure that the virus does not spread further and protects at risk groups from COVID-19. The Chamber is poised to support the government to address logistical constraints faced by Ghana’s health sector while monitoring the impact of the pandemic across the country. We are also actively working to support frontline workers and are committed to supporting the government’s overall response to COVID-19” .
Breakdown of support
“The Mastercard Foundation has committed approximately GH¢90m to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups in Ghana during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. The foundation is working with the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) to support three million youth, 70 per cent being young women, over the next 10 years,” it said.
On the other hand, the release said Newmont Ghana had provided US$100,000 to support the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine to procure COVID-19 testing kits.
“Newmont is supporting the Asutifi and Birim District Assemblies and the Ahafo North Municipal Assembly to support the local authorities’ efforts to fight the pandemic. Additionally, Newmont Corporation has established a US$20 million fund to help host communities, governments and employees combat COVID-19,” it added.
The release said Coca Cola Company and the Coca Cola Foundation had committed more than US$120 million to curb the spread of the disease. However, it said the “specific allocation to Ghana is currently unknown but will be announced shortly.” In addition, the release said the company in partnership with its NGO partners, had contributed resources towards public education and has provided personal protective kits and beverages to all frontline workers.”
Johnson & Johnson (J&J), it said, had also provided GH¢100,000 to support the Government of Ghana’s COVID-19 Fund.
“At a global level, J&J is mobilising resources to develop a vaccine which could potentially be approved under emergency authorisation by 2021. J&J and its partners have committed over US$1billion to co-fund COVID-19 research, development and clinical trials,” it said.
Globally, Mastercard has committed US$25 million in seed funding to the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, a global initiative in collaboration with Wellcome and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to speed-up the response to the COVID-19 pandemic by identifying, assessing, developing, and scaling up treatments.
The Visa Foundation has pledged US$ 210 million in funding to support frontline NGOs and small and micro enterprises that have been financially impacted due to the pandemic.
An amount of “US$10 million of the funding will be used to provide international emergency assistance to frontline public health charities and global food aid. US$200 million will be provided over a five-year period to assist small and micro-enterprises globally to support the economic advancement of women.”
Microsoft has made freely available one of its Office 365 Applications-Microsoft Teams, a videoconferencing, chat and team collaboration platform to help businesses, schools and individuals with remote working and learning navigate these challenging times.
IBM is supporting remote working and distance education efforts through its online learning platform (www.digitalnationafrica.com) to provide free online training on new technologies with certification and online job search engine.
In March 2020, the Chamber according to the release also conducted the COVID-19 Business Impact Survey.
The aim of the survey was to assess the impact of the outbreak and to highlight potential outcomes for businesses.
The survey which covered a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, oil and gas, transportation and education, found that: “50 per cent of businesses have had their operations severely impacted by COVID-19.”
“Only 35 per cent of businesses had plans in place to preserve business continuity and build enterprise resilience during a pandemic,” the report said.
It said 85 per cent of the businesses surveyed would experience supply chain disruption should movement continue to be restricted within the country”.