Covid-19 winners and the others

The Covid-19 has not finished making headlines. Recently, the media reported on a senior German official and whistleblower (suspended from his job after that), Mr. Stephen Kohn, who leaked to the press the report of a group of German scientists in which the latter denounce the Covid-19 pandemic as a “false global alert” and question the merits of the containment measures. The report says, among other things, that the number of deaths from Covid-19 would have been lower than that caused by the 2017/18 flu wave. And the report deduces that the Covid-19 pandemic would have been greatly overestimated.

Coming after the negative statements of President Trump on the lack of credibility of the WHO, and in the absence of a response from the UN body, the aforementioned report raises many questions about the WHO officials to defend the credibility of the institution and the merits of their management of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In sum, as was the case with the appearance of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) in the early eighties of the past century, the debate between scientists on the different health aspects of Covid-19 will probably continue in the years to come with the hope of seeing a little clearer in it (see here)

But one thing is clear; the direct impact of HIV, virus of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), did not give rise, at the time of its appearance forty years ago, to a notable disturbance in the economic and commercial sectors. By contrast, the Covid-19 has led in recent months to an upheaval, never observed before in peacetime, of all the working rules in most sectors of activity worldwide. The aviation industry has suffered the most serious crisis in its history. In the same vein, the transport of goods has been greatly disrupted following the closure by many countries of their borders. The first consequence of these disturbances, and other dysfunctions, was the reduction of work in tens of thousands of companies in the countries affected, sometimes their permanent closings, with the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the tourism sectors, logistics and elsewhere. We must, of course, add to this disorder the terrible congestion of hundreds of hospitals because of a massive influx of patients in acute respiratory distress.

Some countries responded better to this unprecedented disaster than others. And the appropriate responses have not always been observed in so-called developed countries, as is usually the case in such circumstances. For example, Morocco, an African country, has received praise and has been cited as an example for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic by many other so-called developed countries.

In fact, on closer inspection, it appears that our country has been preparing for quite some time already to face a disaster of this nature. Indeed, Morocco has become aware for years now that our development model, inherited from the protectorate and whose basic principles have been maintained until today, made us a society of docile and servile consumers, served mainly by a local elite fed largely by the hand of our “ex-protectors”. This elite, very minority but particularly active, takes, in a way, the defense of the doctrine of our ex-colonizers and militates for the maintenance with the former Metropolis first, and the EU countries then, of status quo in our very asymmetrical exchanges inherited from the time of colonization.

With this in mind, each time a problem arose, the aforementioned elite, including some of our senior public officials, turned to European countries to beg for a ready response. This often consisted of solutions tested elsewhere and, for the most part, did not correspond to our realities on the ground and therefore generally doomed to failure. This obviously does not prevent the assistance in question from being paid, in foreign currency and at a high price.

The result of all this is a kind of condemnation of Morocco, and this is supposedly the case for other African countries, to stay put instead of progressing. In addition, by agreeing to continuously sell off our Raw Materials in order to survive and import their finished products and services at high prices, we have witnessed, and contributed passively in a way, an increasing impoverishment of our populations.

Our sovereign, King Mohammed VI, who took the measure of this problem, ordered the elaboration (in progress) of a new development model where the Moroccans would take more their destiny in hand. Since then, there has been a national consensus that the development model that has framed Morocco’s activities so far damages our sovereignty and mainly benefits European prime contractors. In second place, the system also benefits their local support here that has developed an unhealthy dependence on Windfall economy.

So, at the time when the first signs of the pandemic appeared, the reflection on the implementation of an appropriate response, but Moroccan-Moroccan one, was well advanced which made it possible to produce and put on the market both masks as artificial respirators and other sanitary products “Made in Morocco” in record time. Some of these products continue to be exported to the world market.

On the other hand, the disruption of Covid-19 has confirmed that people’s travel and trade in goods have never been as intense as in the globalized world we live in today. In this regard, a number of recognized researchers believe that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will be felt in the many years to come. For example, Yoichi Funabashi, former editor-in-chief of the large-circulation Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, and current president of the Asia-Pacific Initiative, believes that “At some point, the COVID-19 crisis will end. But as was the case with the first and second world wars, the end of the crisis will not mark a return to normal. Rather, it will signal the advent of a new normal. ”

Thus, in the same way that the rules put in place after the Second Great War (which still apply today) were very different from the rules in force before the Last Great War, the rules necessary to be put in place after the Covid-19 will be different from those currently in force. But the rules (in force) of today, in place for more than seven decades, are the very ones that favor the countries of the EU and keep us Africans in a state of subordinates. It therefore seems inconceivable that our neighbors in the north of the Mediterranean can accept without resistance the establishment of new post-covid-19 rules which would be in favor of us Africans. The struggle for this change is therefore only just beginning.

But Morocco is a country which claims loudly its Africanness, which has not finished rejoicing at being cited as an example of management of the Covid-19, while the Europeans, who have a lot of means, have shown all their contradictions and weaknesses in the management of this same pandemic. It follows that Morocco now inherits the duty to continue its efforts of “physical distanciation” from our European friends to establish its own African personality which can serve as an example to other brother and friendly countries of our continent.

In our opinion, the next step in this process should focus on efforts to implement standards specific to our African food sectors. In this regard, the excellent work previously done by China and India in the medicines sector can serve as an example. These two countries, in particular, have forced industrial lobbies in Western countries to limit the validity of the patents they have defined to their pharmaceutical products for trade. This victory enabled them, once the products in question fell into the public domain, to manufacture generics carrying their own brands which they promote commercially all over the world.

Regarding standards for international trade in agrifood products, falling under the global regulatory prerogatives of the Codex Alimentarius, Morocco, like other African countries which are members of the UN body, can use these Codex standards to adapt them to the specific rules of its internal market and the conditions of its consumer citizens. By pooling the efforts of our African countries in this direction, it will be possible to devise our own standards, formulated on the basis of those of Codex, which will have to be made available to future AfCFTA officials (African Continental Free Trade Area) whose start-up is planned for this month of July. This will provide them with a working tool to enable them to dialogue and negotiate serenely with other parts of the globalized world on behalf of the countries of our continent.

This will at the same time confirm the place that belongs to our African nations on the side of the winners of the Covid-19 pandemic. And that will allow us to teach those in need how to better manage epidemics that are bound to occur in the future.