The year 2020 started as an end to another decade which began in the year 2010, alas! It’s ten solid years already. Hurray! But it’s not just about the world marking another decade but rather the end of the decade that brought along with its devastating effects and untold difficulties.  

The world got hit with a novel pandemic originating from Wuhan, China in 2019, it quickly spread like wildfire across the globe, from America to Zanzibar. Every continent of the world has had its fair share of the pandemic which has resulted in the deaths of over 1.8 million people worldwide as well as crushed businesses and brought livelihoods to a standstill.

2020 on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic, brought a sharp focus on business survival as well as a growing concern on the concept of business existence. Business Continuity experts started thinking outside the box, implementing BCP plans and ensuring that emergency response teams are up to speed in respect to logistics, safety and other things needed for the survival of lives and businesses.

For us in Ghana, the situation has not been different since the country got hit with it’s first two cases in March, 2020. This was subsequently followed with a two week partial lockdown of some parts of the Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions considered to be hotspots for the spread of the virus.

Indeed the effects of Covid-19 on businesses, just as witnessed in Asia, Europe and North America did not spare Ghana either. The lockdown period of just two weeks saw a couple of businesses crumble, people lost jobs and others had to work remotely from home.

Ghana has not been spared the painful economic and socio-political impact of the pandemic as it laid it’s ugly and icy hands on homes, schools, businesses, markets etc. Restrictions on the movement of people further disrupted households and businesses with attendant job losses and also reduced incomes of people.

Sectors such as the hospitality industry, manufacturing, education, creative arts, transportation, agriculture and the financial services have all had their fair share of the debilitating effects of the pandemic.

Business Continuity Planning has proven to be the surest way of ensuring the survival of businesses and even nations in instances such as the pandemic which the world is currently battling with.

Nations had to revert to plan “B” to ensure that their economies continue to run uninterrupted and prevent their economies from crushing. Similar plans were resorted to by companies.

In Ghana’s financial services sector for instance, various banks were seen putting in place measures to ensure that most of their staff could work from home, others introduced the shift system among staff along with the introduction of more robust digital/electronic banking applications.

All these measures were taken in a bid to ensure social distancing and reduce the number of people in offices so as to cut the likely rate of infections.

Also, Businesses Continuity in collaboration with Security & Information Technology (S&IT) with approval from management of most banks in the country further saw the deployments of various Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to the financial services sector all in a bid to reduce contacts and subsequently cut the rates of Covid-19 infections.

For example, #GMoney which was launched in December 2019 and fully rolled out in early 2020 by the largest bank in Ghana #GCBBank, got an immediate response from the market and is already competing for market share and dominance over the existing market leaders.

The team responsible for this feat in #GCB has since left no stone unturned in ensuring a continuous and uninterrupted service delivery with a ready 24/7 call centre to handle customer challenges.

Business continuity planners also saw some difficult situations as the year drew close to an end as some properties of financial institutions caught fire thereby necessitating the implementation of emergency plans.

 Challenging as it appears, the teams were able to with the support of management get all critical services relocated to various places. Services rendered at such places has since then been seamless.

At the end of the day it’s all about the ability of systems, infrastructures, governments, businesses and the citizenry to resist, absorb, recover from or adapt to an adverse occurrence that may cause harm, destruction or loss of national significance.

Shalom! Goodbye to the year 2020. Happy New Year to everyone and may 2021 present a world full of exciting challenges and opportunities!

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The author is a Business Continuity Planning Partner – Operations with GCB Bank.