Open Letter

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The Africa Innovation Policy Task Force and the Innovation for Policy Foundation co-created an open letter in response to COVID-19. We are sharing the open letter below.
The open letter is hosted on i4Policy's open-source public policy consultation platform, where you could engage with it (comment, rate, annotate), share it, and you can sign it.

#i4Policy Open Letter on COVID-19

V1.3 (31/03/20)

Our societies are only as strong as our ability to care for one another.

We, innovation community leaders and entrepreneurs across Africa, come united in diversity to openly call for unity and collective action to address this pandemic.

1. We strongly support decisive, executive and adaptive measures to protect public health. This is a time for greater state intervention, and the values of an open society remain as important as ever. This pandemic has exposed our interconnectedness: our connections have accelerated the spread of the virus, but our togetherness remains our greatest resource to protect our communities. We call upon governments to provide regular and transparent communication to build trust, to share data and protect our personal privacy, to reinforce social cohesion in our communities, and to work together with local and traditional authorities to encourage socially-responsible behaviour through dialogue.
2. People and governments must be allies. We urge governments to call on us, to activate local hardware manufacturers and makers to address critical shortages in medical supplies, indigenous software developers to buttress public health information technologies, local creatives and artists to develop information campaigns, and to mobilise every resident to serve as a volunteer, even if only in the capacity to maintain physical (not social) distance.
3. Our demographics will continue to be our dividend. Our children and youth will be less of a strain on our health systems and should be kept informed and involved in co-creating and delivering our collective solutions. Our elders, the carriers of our collective cultural heritage, should also be involved and protected. We must recognise intergenerational knowledge to perpetuate and guarantee our values, and build a whole-of-society movement to combat this pandemic.
4. The people with the least access to public services face the greatest risks from contagion. Those with the fewest resources have no choice but to share with their neighbours. Communities that drink from the same cup, that have no surplus or store, are also the most likely to be devastated by this virus and to perpetuate its spread. We encourage our governments to support solidarity networks and actions to deliver resources of water, food and essential supplies to the most vulnerable communities to enable them to comply with physical distancing measures.
5. Small businesses and entrepreneurs are critical to inclusion, employment, national production, distribution and sustainable development. We strongly recommend that governments provide emergency working capital facilities to support small businesses, entrepreneurs and other ecosystem enablers; postpone tax collection; and, support businesses to transition employees to part-time contracts, while offering support for the unemployed and under-employed.
6. If the virus remains anywhere, it is a threat to societies everywhere. The virus doesn’t know borders or any other man-made divisions between humans. Neither should our battle against it. We strongly encourage strategic regional collaborations and solidarity across nations and between peoples.

To survive this crisis, to rebuild our societies, and to safeguard our communities in its aftermath will demand that we unlock our collective problem-solving potential, our resources, and our shared humanity.

We, innovation community leaders and entrepreneurs across Africa, are at the service of our governments and neighbours in this undertaking. We recognise the efforts that have already been undertaken by governments and regional institutions, and the important collaborations that have been initiated with citizens. We offer to build on this, to be efficient relays of public health information, we can mobilise our communication resources, our technological expertise, and we can activate our fellow innovators, entrepreneurs and creatives.

We stand together and offer to work collectively through this crisis and afterwards to co-create a stronger society and a future that serves everyone!

Ubuntu, Kwaniso, Obala, Mandenka, Harambee, Umlando, Agaciro