Post COVID-19 Economic Recovery: Leveraging the Youth Population to Build Back Better

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic across the world in 2019, which later spread to Africa in 2020, the pandemic resulted in unprecedented cases of severe illness and death in a magnitude not experienced before. This led to a strain on Africa’s public health systems and caused a socio-economic crisis, indiscriminately affecting the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. At the peak of the outbreak, Africa, through the Africa Joint ContinentalStrategy for COVID-19 Outbreak, embarked on enhanced synergies in the efforts deployed by governments, development partners, multilateral partners, and the private sector to strengthen surveillance, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and control of COVID-19.

However, while the cautionary measures and strategies were effective in curbing the surge and flattening the curve of COVID-19 cases, they also presented new realities that left millions of young people at a disadvantage. With the introduction of curfews, lockdowns, and work-from-home measures, many young people were impacted heavily by the closure of educational institutions; pay cuts, and job losses from organizations and companies that scaled down particularly those in transport and the tourism sectors; micro, small and medium enterprises were equally hard hit by the low purchasing power resulting in low and irregular earnings; and the interruption of recreational and leisure activities. The socio-economic disruption has reversed the hard-won economic and social gains and impacted the ability of many young people who have had to make do with a shrunken disposable income and a high cost of living, aggravating existing vulnerabilities and pushing most of them back to poverty.

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