The Africa We Want After COVID-19 - A Blogger, a Politician and a Diplomat in Conversation

2 July 2020
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African Development Bank (Abidjan)

Four inspiring young Africans have set out their vision of the Africa they would like to see in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The discussion was held on 25 June as part of a webinar series hosted by the African Development Bank and the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU-ECOSOCC).

The theme of this webinar was "The Role of Youth in Shaping a Post-Pandemic Africa". Participants included civil society groups, international organizations and the wider public.

The four speakers discussed the challenges they encounter on the continent, such as unemployment and not being represented in decision-making processes.

Emma Theofelus, Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology in Namibia and one of the world's youngest ministers, said the digitalization of Africa could greatly contribute to the continent's response to the pandemic.

"We need to be more digitally prepared for education, health and commerce. As a young generation, we need to make our businesses adaptable to digital platforms, so that even when physical contact is banned, we can still function."

Dieretou Diallo, an award-winning blogger and activist in Guinea, called for fruitful and efficient collaboration between young people and governments.

"We need to use the youth and capitalize on their solutions...Youth and governments each have roles and responsibilities."

Aya Chebbi, the first ever African Union Special Envoy on Youth and the youngest diplomat in the African Union Commission Chairperson's Cabinet, said it was important to support youth innovation.

"We need to close the digital divide, particularly for rural youth... We see creations but their models, innovations or initiatives are not documented or utilized. Integrating youth innovation into government response plans and supporting young people in scaling up their prototypes, so they are brought to the market, is one of my recommendations."

Anouar Ouedrago, Senior Flagships Programme Coordinator at the Bank, spoke about the #AfricaVsVirus challenge held in April by the Bank's Jobs for Youth in Africa program. The competition called for solutions to address the challenges presented by the pandemic.

Ouedrago said the initiative had given the institution a better idea of what was happening on the ground. Speaking about the 750 proposals they received, he said: "This initiative highlighted the obvious: in every single African country, we have dynamic youths and they need to be listened to."

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