Today, we’re in the middle of the deepest recession in living memory. As the pandemic triggered lockdowns and took hold around the world in early 2020, economies contracted quickly. The distress hit all industry sectors, some more than others. In this manner, COVID-19 positioned itself as a respecter of none, with its impact cutting through the veil of social and economic stability, disrupting nearly all aspects of life.

Most affected, was the youth demographic between 19-25 years, bearing the brunt of inadequate access to health services, disruption of education and loss of income due to stay at home orders. However, in these unprecedented times emerged a new gleam as many young people seized the moment and demonstrated resilience at its finest, employing innovation and creativity in youth-led activities across the spheres of health, art and communication. By harnessing the power of technology, solutions and opportunities continue to be developed and scaled-up to predict and fabricate a future flex and future proof world. In their brilliance, young people anchor what the future looks like. It is therefore imperative for their voice to not only be acknowledged, but invested in.

Despite the grim shadow cast by COVID-19, the resilience demonstrated by the youth globally in fighting the pandemic has proven to be an undying ember. The youth have galvanized their efforts by taking the initiative to raise awareness while supporting government efforts and healthcare professionals in navigating the strain of this global health crisis. In Kenya, students from Kenyatta University have emerged at the fore, with local solutions that will benefit scores of citizens in future. These innovators manufactured ventilators to deal with the acute shortage in health facilities. This is proof that Kenya’s growing economy needs not to import medical equipment, seeing as the local expertise and materials are readily available. This accelerates harnessing of the demographic dividend by the support of local actors to provide key solutions to challenges facing the country. In a neighbouring country, Uganda, a young man mobilized 10 of his peers and went door-to-door within his community in Jinja sharing updated health information about COVID-19.

These are but a few examples of youth resilience, where youth in Africa have taken the centre stage in fighting the pandemic. Now more than ever, the value of youth should not be understated or underrepresented. The new normal has amplified the agility of the youth, as well as the knowledge, ingenuity and initiative they possess to be change-makers within their communities.

A robust and buoyant youth will translate to a people and a generation that can handle adversity effectively and have the muscle to forge ahead despite grave challenges. As we emerge into the new normal, who better to lead us than the you(th)?

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