This is one of 38 winning blogs from the 2021 Blog4Dev competition, the World Bank Africa annual 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?
The global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has brought upon major challenges in the world’s economic system as governments imposed border restrictions, and businesses have had to shut down due to strict containment measures that were put in place to mitigate the spread of the disease. Such containment measures have magnified challenges in the social system and further enhanced problems of the vulnerable and marginalized. This has certainly led to disruptions in the economic and social system worldwide, hence nations have experienced major economic downturns. While the full extent of the crisis caused by the pandemic will not be known for years, it is evident that it will take the world several years to recover from this calamity.
Most of the responses from governments and civil society organizations have focused on creating short-term relief for citizens by providing liquidity to businesses and easing critical expenses. This has presented an opportunity for young people to bring new ideas and work with such organizations to build an economic and social system that can withstand the impact brought about by the pandemic. Furthermore, with the fourth industrial revolution upon us,measures, taking into account the economic and social transformations driven by the digital industrial revolution.
This could be done in three phases. During the first phase of economic and social recovery, while governments and CSOs continue to provide short-term relief to citizens and businesses, young people could lend support by providing the much-needed manpower for such programs. They can do this by volunteering in government and civil society recovery projects, especially those that deal with social issues such as domestic violence, poverty, and education for socially disadvantaged schoolchildren.
Phase two, on the other hand, involves an investment led recovery. The simplest way to build an economy is to find ways to produce better items that humans want. Thus, young people can create a hub for inventions where governments can invest in youth business models and innovative production techniques, which would help governments create long-lasting economic recovery solutions, taking into account the age of digital transformation.
Lastly, since preparation is better than prevention, building a better economic and social system will involve legislative and political reforms that have a long-term recovery outlook and can withstand any future disruptions, such as the health crisis we are currently experiencing. Other reforms may focus on encompassing the technological revolution – the fourth industrial revolution. Therefore, it is time for us – young people – to infiltrate the political and legislative sphere by running for political positions at the highest levels and working with the aforementioned organizations to build a stronger social and economic system.
Michell Mositi Mompati is the 2021 Blog4Dev winner from Botswana. See the full list of 2021 Blog4Dev winners here, and read their blog posts.