Recent research shows that 33% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa comprises persons aged 10-24 years which is likely to increase as other countries in the developing world experience a decline in the proportion of their population. It is with no doubt that the African youth are the future workforce in the region with about 11 million young people expected to enter the labour market each year for the next decade.
This year’s Africa Youth Day which is often celebrated on the 1st November of every year has come at a time when the world is battling a serious pandemic that has left many Africa’s youths jobless and without any source of income. In addition to being susceptible to COVID-19 just like the rest of the population, they are more likely to experience the impact of the disease and its mitigation strategies.
The theme being “youth voices, actions, engagement: Building a better Africa,” the main objective of the commission is to collaborate with African youths, equip them with tools necessary for skills amplification, encourage them to excel in their own spaces, and link them up with an audience of influence.
Many youthful innovations have been highlighted so far, an indication that Africa will soon be the next frontier of development, as was recently published by African Innovates. It, therefore, goes without saying that young people are at the very heart of Africa’s development agenda.
The effects of the pandemic on youth are likely to last significantly longer than the virus itself and, if we are not aggressive, we are at risk of losing recent gains in Africa’s youth development trajectory and implementing the existing changes.
All in all, youth innovators need to be recognized and their works highlighted. In Kenya, Lenny Nyakinya, an agripreneur who was recently crowned among the 200 youth and women to benefit from the agribusiness program funded by European Union and Danida, innovated a web and mobile app known as Plant Doctor, which helps farmers monitor farmlands and provide agronomic advice to enhance food productivity.
The startup company Ifarm Connect which he spearheads also connects investors to farmers to finance agricultural interventions that boost productivity and improve livelihoods, water efficiency, and food security in Africa.
This kind of innovation is one of its kind bearing in mind that Africa largely depends on agriculture to promote food security. By using the app, the company is helping farmers with technical support to maximize their farm produce and quality.
The company is upgrading everyone to use technology in the agricultural industry to ease farming, the move which has so far been heightened by the effects of COVID-19.
Young people usually gravitate naturally to the forefront to provide solutions to old problems and African leaders must leverage this natural affinity through building their capacity and providing spaces for them to thrive. It is now time to empower the youth if we intend to rebuild the societies after COVID-19. Their contributions to our continent’s recovery can be felt already.