This is one of 38 winning blogs from the 2021 Blog4Dev competition, an annual World Bank Africa writing contest inviting young people to weigh in on a topic critical to their country’s economic development. Blog4Dev winners responded to the question: How can young people work with their governments and civil society organizations to respond to the impact of COVID-19 and build a stronger post-pandemic economic and social system?
Youth are said to be the “driving force” of society, and we, here in Africa, have a predominantly young population, which means that we have the potential to offer a workforce full of energy. Young Africans can make a significant contribution to their governments and other civil society organizations as they respond to the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and seek to build a post-pandemic social and economic system that is more robust.
Even though the continent may have a deficit in terms of training, young people can still work with governments and civil society organizations directly and/or as a bridge. We can propose solutions that fill in the gaps where civil society organizations (CSOs) may have less interest, bearing in mind the many factors that contribute to extreme poverty, illiteracy, lack of basic sanitation, and hence disease, for African families. Education and technical or vocational training can inform the delivery of volunteer services and lead to awareness raising and mobilization, thus preparing more qualified young people to come forward and serve communities. Through actions of this kind, young people can promote improved social conditions, working hand-in-hand with governments and civil society organizations.
At the same time, young people can also serve as watchdogs and call out misguided measures, whether initiated by governments or by CSOs, while offering more workable solutions. They can also act as advocates for human rights., hence the need to promote these rights and ensure creation of the just and cohesive society aspired to in the post-pandemic era. With the high unemployment rate, which, especially for your young people, became even more challenging with the arrival of the pandemic, there is an urgent need to work with governments and civil society organizations to inform, train, and persuade Africans to opt for entrepreneurship as a resource, especially in technological areas, and take full advantage of the world offered by information and communication technology.
. Africa has thousands of tourist attractions that receive only one-tenth of the attention they deserve and offer excellent opportunities for post-pandemic investment and job growth, both directly and indirectly. Tourism and culture are parallel elements on this path forward. Young people can work with governments and CSOs to expand tourism by incorporating and disseminating information about African culture, which offers much to love from the classic to the contemporary, with rewards for both foreigners and nationals.
Yet another area that is attractive for generating income and strengthening the economic system is the environment. Recycling of waste is especially important for the wellbeing of those who live in Africa. The reuse of recycled items implies resale. Young people working hand-in-hand with governments and civil society organizations will contribute to building a strong social system based on the moralization of society and a strong economic system that creates jobs through entrepreneurship in a wider range of sectors. Mobilizing this young force for action will respond to the needs of Mother Africa, and also to the impacts of COVID-19 by helping to build the strong post-pandemic social and economic system that is needed.
Evaristo Ucuahamba Manasés is the 2021 Blog4Dev winner from Angola. See the full list of 2021 Blog4Dev winners here, and read their blog posts.