April 23, 2024

Young people between the ages of 14 and 24 make up one-fifth of Africa’s population, with numbers projected to increase over the next three decades. Africa’s young people are therefore the most important source of human capital for the continent and constitute its engine of growth. 

To successfully respond to this crisis and “build back better” for the long term, African leaders must strategically partner with youth to leverage their innovation, creative ideas, labor and resourcefulness.

As we celebrate International Youth Day (IYD) today, we look to young people that have led the charge in responding to COVID-19 through their innovations. The global agricultural and food industry can support them through strong food security systems that build individual, family and community resilience for future crises and the skills to innovate our way out of the current one.

The COVID-19 pandemic is testing the resilience of Governance systems, economies and job markets, highlighting the digital divide, income inequality, and workforce fragility around the world. In Africa, the virus has kept millions of children and young people out of school, exacerbating an existing education crisis. 

Yet, despite these setbacks, COVID-19 has proven the ability of young Africans to innovate in the face of a crisis. Community-based responses are an important part of the fight against COVID-19, and this is where many youths have emerged as leaders and front-line responders. 

The most important way that African leaders can purposefully engage with young people is by investing in Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health. will highlight that the success of such a global effort will not be achieved without the meaningful participation of young people. 

Authored: Charles Emma Ofwono

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