Resilient Together: AccessHolding crisis response and preparation for the return to a New Normal
The COVID-19 pandemic represents an existential threat to our customers and to our staff. While all countries in the world are concerned, it touches Africa in a very specific way, in particular due to three reasons:
The outbreak started later and the spread is slower (because of age, mobility, etc.). Nevertheless, in some countries, the real number of infected persons is much higher than officially reported, and some cities have already become infection hotspots although official numbers are low.
While the policies in developed countries aim at flattening the curve to ensure that the health system is not overloaded, in Africa many people do not and will not have access to effective medical services anyway (this becomes evident when looking at the low number of available ventilators, which in some countries is below ten).
The absence of a meaningful social security system and funds to support people during the crisis. Therefore, many observers and decision-makers argue that the number of deaths caused by lockdowns may become higher than the number of deaths caused by the disease.
The specific situation in Africa (and other developing countries) has to be considered when managing the crisis and preparing for a “new normal”. We at AccessHolding are aware that our Banks have a critical role to play for our more than1.5m customers, and to protect the lower income strata from hardship. Our goal is to continue providing services and funding while many of our clients suffer severe income cuts. To do this effectively, we offer to work hand in hand with our shareholders and other business partners.
We divide the COVID-19 journey into three time-buckets: Flatten, Fight and Future. Most countries of operations entered the “fight” phase in late May. An overview of macro factors, consumer demand and supply is presented in the this table:
Our approach to fighting the crisis
Weeks before the lockdown in Germany, we established task forces to manage the impact of the crisis on the Holding and on the network banks. Our approach reflects the new policy of the Holding to support our Banks in a more flexible way than in the past. On the one hand, the Holding insists on compliance with certain standards (e.g., in the area of staff and client security, liquidity, and IT security). On the other hand, the support to individual banks considers the specific challenges on the ground and the capacity of our Banks to manage the crisis. In this regard, Holding-involvement has been stronger in the cases of, for example, Liberia and Tanzania, and lower in the cases of Madagascar and Georgia. In the following table, we provide an overview of our crisis response to date and our conclusions for the way ahead for our network as we move towards a new normal.
Key Takeaways – Current Situation
Key Takeaways – Looking Forward to the next Phase