ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, June 9, 2020/ — For a continent of over 1,2 billion people, coronavirus infection and death rates have been remarkably low in Africa but the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in massive negative economic effects that will be felt for many years to come.
The continent is likely to be more affected by the human, social and economic impacts of the pandemic with the vulnerable and marginalised, especially women and the youth, being the most affected as the pandemic threatens to reverse hard-won economic and social gains.
African countries are implementing a two-pronged response articulated around immediate health and social measures, and economic stimulus as discussions among policy makers on building back better African economies and social fabrics continue.
To bring Africa’s youth into the conversation, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC) and UNICEF GenU, will on Tuesday 9 June 2020, host a virtual youth policy dialogue on the theme: “Building Back Better with African Youth”.
“The voice and agency and contribution of the youth are critical in shaping the narrative for building back better Africa’s economic and social landscapes,” the three institutions say in a concept note on the dialogue.
Also crucial, they say, is the need to address the pervasive fragility of countries’ health and educational systems, and their dependencies on natural and mineral resources, macroeconomic instability, heightened public debt vulnerabilities and others.
“The new narrative for building back better African economies should be underpinned by countries’ renewed commitment and actions to accelerate the pace and path of innovation uptake and industrialisation with empowered young women and men as pivotal actors and change makers. Such paradigm shift would enable Africa to unlock the youth’s important potential and harness its demographic dividend,” reads the concept note.
The dialogue’s main objectives are to take stock of the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the youth in Africa; consolidate concerns, conversations and contributions of African youth in responding to COVID-19 and building back better Africa’s economies; and to provide a platform for capturing youth voices, insights and narratives in the African Union Youth Sector response to the crisis.
The meeting will highlight the specific challenges faced by young Africans from the pandemic and its mitigation measures; showcase efforts by young people to respond to different aspects of today’s reality within the pandemic; and deal with the themes of education, innovation, employment, health, and meaningful civic and community engagement, among others.
Key issues and challenges in building back better and the role of youth in building back better will also be under the spotlight.
An outcome document with recommendations to governments will be produced. It will feed into the African Union Specialized Technical Committee of Ministers of Youth, Culture and Sport that will take place on June 17, 2020.