The lock down imposed on Ghana’s biggest urban centres may be over restoring the country to some semblance of pre coronavirus normalcy. But at best it is only a semblance; simply put, in key ways, Ghana and indeed, much of the world will never be the same again.
In some ways this may be a drawback. The fear of social interaction in crowds will not be helpful for instance. And the viral outbreak will scare people away from tourism for some time to come.
But in some ways, the new economy will be better, more efficient than the oid one. The most notable change is the advent of the digital economy.
The digitalization of the Ghanaian economy, with electronic payment platforms and e-commerce as its fulcrum, has been a major aspiration of government and corporate Ghana’s chieftains. Progress has been steady, but much slower in practice than the rate at which digital products and services have been designed and made available to private enterprises, providers of public goods and services and households.
There is an old adage that says “necessity is the mother of invention.” That adage is now being proved true in Ghana.
Public institutions, private enterprises and households alike are being forced to turn to digital channels by the current circumstances and are doing so with considerable aplomb. The volumes and intensity of electronic payments, e-commerce and other business activities being executed electronically have grown by several orders of magnitude.
Crucially, fire walls seem to be standing up quite firmly against the inevitable activities of would-be cyber criminals, although the degree to which this is simply because victims of cyber- crime are reluctant to publicize their fates is still uncertain; financial institutions, which are usually involved along the cyber- crime “value chain” are particularly reticent about admitting to their failings out of well- founded fears that this would make their customers lose confidence in them and their digital offerings. But the fact that far more Ghanaians are willing to engage in far more digital economic activities and financial activities than ever before suggests that they are more or less satisfied so far.
Indeed, it is now being expected that many enterprises and households will opt to stick with their current much higher than usual use of digital channels for their business and economic activities, even when the COVID 19 pandemic recedes and traditional methods become available for use once again. The proportion of financial transactions consummated through digital channels will remain higher than the pre coronavirus levels, for instance and so will the proportion of the nation’s work force that will want to work from home and the number of employers willing to let them do so.