The peril of coronavirus isn’t only the death of human persons, but also the death of some economic sectors. I am not an economist but I know that if this ailment spreads in Nigeria, a lot of economic sectors will suffer. One of such sectors is the food and beverage department (if there’s anything like that). It is certain that people that sell snacks and drinks will lose a lot of customers. Hoteliers and food vendors will be kicked out of business. Fruit sellers may have to close shops. Even the open market will dry up. Public places, where people converge, will be forced to close down so as to avoid the spread of this infection. In fact, should this virus be allowed to spread throughout this country, Nigeria will be an exact representation of Earth after Armageddon – deserted and destroyed – as Terminator II showed us.
But we hope this won’t happen, especially since scientists have been deployed in different parts of the world to find a cure, or a vaccine against COVID-19. But in the meantime, we need to take advantage of the situation because sometimes, it takes situations like the ones created by coronavirus to make disruptive changes.
Some people are actually benefiting from this disaster. Among these people are those in the health sector. Forbes revealed on its March 7, 2020 bulletin that 10 of China’s richest people gained nearly $14.46b within that week. However, the people they listed are mainly in the healthcare sector. News from different parts of the world has also shown that more healthcare workers have been recruited to help in managing the disease. This is a sign that this disaster is putting food on people’s table (especially for those in the medical field), irrespective of what it’s doing to other sectors of the economy.
Other people that might reap out of this epidemic (if I may call it that) are those in Hi-tech. If people are not going to converge in a place physically, they can do so virtually. As far as I know, coronavirus cannot prevent people from communicating through the internet. So that area needs to be harvested, especially in countries like Nigeria.
The use of technology in reaching out to many people at the same time is taking another dimension because it’s beginning to disrupt old practices. For instance, on Saturday, 7th March, 2020, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis’ Sunday’s Angelus prayer will be live-streamed to prevent people from converging at the front of the pontiff’s study window to say the prayer with him. This means that everybody will stay in his corner and say the prayer with the pope through his phone, tablet or laptop. This might be seen as nothing unless one considers the fact that the pope broke an 83-year old tradition in a bid to prevent more spread of the virus in Italy.
This Hi-Tech matter will be most vital when we consider the fact that conferences, games, shows, symposiums, and the rest of them might be cancelled because of this disease. People may not want to stay with others to avoid contracting the virus, but they’ll want to participate and watch these events. It might be odd, for example, to live stream a football match when the players and a few key officials were the only ones in the stadium, but desperate situations call for desperate measures. It is therefore left for those concerned to make it possible for people to enjoy the game from the comfort of their homes.
But the major one that might affect Nigeria very soon is the organisation of and attendance to conferences, workshops, meetings and seminars. For some reasons, Nigerian associations and event organisers are yet to create rooms for video conferences. The reason behind this is what someone like me cannot truly say, except that most of us lack the equipment that will aid video conferencing. But then, if the need comes up, Nigerians will see the reasons to acquire those facilities for virtual conferences. However, in a matter of weeks, several organisations and associations will hold their conferences, workshops and symposiums. In fact, academic conferences and seminars usually hold between April and October, so these months are going to see lots of activities for Hi-Tech professionals if they could meet up to the demand. The truth is that no one could tell if coronavirus would have spread by then or not. It is therefore necessary that those in Hi-Tech prepare themselves for the possible rise in demands of their services.
Remote work is on the increase with the spread of this virus. I read posts about people being asked to work from home because their employers didn’t want to expose them to the disease. Since there’s an increase in demand for work-from-home workers, Nigerians have better chances for across the border jobs that will pay them with stronger currencies.
Of course, if we talk about live streaming and remote works, we also talk about data consumption. Part of why it is difficult for Nigerians to engage in webinars and online conferences is the high cost of data. Should the telecom companies be encouraged to reduce the price of data, it will be easier for everyone to continue with their physical activities virtually.