Roundup: AU says Africa's burgeoning youth "more vulnerable" to collateral consequences of COVID-19

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ADDIS ABABA, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- With about 75 percent of Africa's over 1.2 billion inhabitants under the age of 35, the continent's youth are "more vulnerable" to the collateral consequences of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the African Union (AU) said on Monday.

"In 2020, the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and its reverberation is disrupting life as we know it in far-reaching ways," the AU said in a statement issued on Monday, as it emphasized that the pandemic is affecting Africa's youth across various fronts.

"For Africa's youth, in addition to being susceptible to coronavirus alongside the rest of the population, they are more vulnerable to the collateral consequences of the disease and its mitigation strategies," the 55-member pan African bloc said.

Figures from the AU show that over 75 percent of Africa's 1.2 billion total population are under the age of 35, while some 453 million Africans are aged between the age range of 15 to 35.

Noting that the youth are at the "very heart of Africa's development agenda," the AU stressed that "it goes without saying that the development outcomes of Africa's young people have a significant and lasting effect on the continent's trajectory."

"Their education is disrupted due to lockdowns, and for the significant population of digitally unconnected youth, this means missing many months of school," the AU argued.

According to the AU, the pandemic has threatened jobs in the continent, especially for low-skilled workers, young entrepreneurs and youth in informal employment who are not likely to be eligible for government bailouts.

The AU, which noted that the global economic shocks of COVID-19 "trickle down to our young people's capacities for sustenance," further emphasized the COVID-19 impact on social lives, resulting from social distancing and isolation, and the mental health implications of the pandemic as a whole.

"These effects will last significantly longer than the pandemic will, and if we are not agile, we run the risk of losing recent gains in Africa's youth development trajectory, and exacerbating existing challenges," the AU argued.

It is against this backdrop that the AU Commission is celebrating the Africa Youth Month from Nov. 1 to 30 under the theme "Youth Voices, Actions, Engagement: Building a Better Africa," it was noted.

Noting that the continent's youth are playing "a central role to society's recovery from COVID-19 and its effects on our lives, lifestyles and livelihoods," the AU stressed that "2020 has demonstrated that across different walks of life, young people are heroic in their different everyday spaces, and their varied contributions make up the whole of our development agenda."

"It is time to celebrate youth engagement and action in its different forms, from diligent everyday workers and first responders, to job creators, academic pioneers and community builders," it said.

According to the AU, this year's theme of the Africa Youth Month is a clarion call to all young people to view their natural spaces as opportunities to influence their environment, communities, countries and consequently, the African continent.

The Africa Youth Month, among other things, envisaged encouraging young Africans to see themselves as integral to realizing Africa's continental development Agenda 2063, it was noted.

It also aspires to highlight youth excellence, engagement and impact in traditional and nontraditional engagement spaces, as well as encouraging young Africans to excel in their own spaces, according to the AU.

Due to the COVID-19 realities, the AU Commission will celebrate the month-long Africa Youth Month via online platforms by leveraging youth and partner networks to ensure reach participation across the continent, it was noted.

As of Monday morning, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across Africa reached 1,710,695, as the death toll due to the pandemic rose to 41,161, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

A total of 1,400,549 people who were infected with COVID-19 have recovered across the continent so far, the Africa CDC said. Enditem

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