Risk management and coronavirus – how prepared are businesses in Africa?

Oxial is a global company. We supply our IT GRC tools and enterprise risk management software to organisations all over the world and we work with some of the most knowledgeable and influential partners in Europe, Africa and the US.

The elements of business that we help organisations with – cybersecurity, risk management, governance, regulatory compliance – are all global issues and it is hard to separate one from the other. That’s why the GRC software market has emerged, because these issues are so interconnected that it makes sense to manage them all using one integrated tool.

Another global issue in April 2020 is coronavirus. A fast-moving crisis, it has already become the most significant pandemic in a generation and the long-term impact of it on our collective health and the worldwide economy is yet to be revealed, although most experts agree it will be very damaging.

It has hit most countries incredibly hard, and although other parts of the world – China, the US, Western Europe – have been most affected, there has still been an enormous impact in Africa and that is only going to grow over the next few months. How badly have been African countries been affected and did organisations have strong risk management strategies in place to help mitigate this risk?

Coronavirus in Africa

At the time of writing (7 April 2020) it is clear that coronavirus is beginning to take hold in Africa. The latest data by the John Hopkins University and Africa Center for Disease Control on COVID-19 in Africa has shown that there have now been more than 10,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the continent.

Many African countries are starting to impose a range of prevention and containment measures to try and prevent the spread, and there are just two countries – Lesotho and Comoros – that have no cases at all. There are pockets of countries that are seemingly most affected, with countries in North Africa such as Egypt, Algeria and Morocco (where Oxial’s African office is located) the worst hit.

Africa is a little behind the coronavirus curve in terms of when the virus first hit, meaning it can in theory take lessons as to how (and how not) to best manage the spread from countries that were hit earlier. However, the infrastructure (including the healthcare systems) in Africa is not as developed as that in other parts of the world. Similarly, the risk management strategies (and risk management software required to deliver these strategies) are not as evolved.

Risk management in Africa

That organisations in Africa are less evolved in their risk management strategies is something that few would dispute. That’s not ideal during more normal times, but it is highlighted even more when one of the biggest risks to health and the economy emerges, such as with coronavirus.

Going beyond the immediate health risks to employees, partners and customers, there are other significant risks for African businesses to be aware – increasing numbers of cyber-attacks, customers deciding to not spend during the crisis, the impact of large amounts of the workforce working for home, and many more. How these risks are managed will decide how businesses come through coronavirus.

Risk management is the process in whichorganisations assess the risks they are facing as a business and make an informed decision as to which of those risks are worth taking.Many businesses using risk management software such as Oxial’ssGRC. This is an affordable and feature-rich enterprise risk management tool, which uses risk mapping to predict the impact of individual risks, allowing organisations of all sizes and in all industries to mitigate those risks.

For many businesses in Africa however, they have not approached risk management with the seriousness that it warrants.

Looking to the future with risk management

Any African business should look at our article ‘five steps to successful risk management’, which outlines clearly the approach required to mitigate against risk in modern business. But the coronavirus crisis is a unique and challenging time that needs an immediate response.

Because the African risk management market is not as mature as that in say, Western Europe, it becomes even more important to follow the basic principles of risk management. Identify the risks, then analyse and assess the possible impact of these – what damage could they cause to the organisation and how could that be minimised?

Taking these relatively straightforward measures will help African organisations be more mindful of the impact that coronavirus could have and will help steer them through difficult times ahead, after which they can implement a more robust risk management strategy.

Our African risk management experts are available to talk you through any concerns or questions you may have regarding your risk management during and following the coronavirus crisis. Feel free to get in touch with us at any time – just click here.

Share This!