News & Media / COVID-19 in Africa: What does it mean for young people?

COVID-19 in Africa: What does it mean for young people?

22 July, 2020

In June, the Foundation conducted a survey to gather our Now Generation Network’s (NGN) perspectives on the challenges of COVID-19 in Africa. 

The NGN consists of the Ibrahim alumni of fellows and scholars and the participants of the annual Now Generation Forum (NGF). They comprise a dynamic range of 237 young and mid-level career African citizens, nationals from 43 African countries and from various sectors and disciplines. 

The Foundation has published its first Now Generation Network Survey findings on the impact of COVID-19, entitled - COVID-19 in Africa: what does it mean for young people?. Drawing on views from 143 members of the NGN, the report  provides specific insights into the views of this cohort in areas including current risk assessment, government responses to the crisis; access to adequate healthcare; the availability of reliable information; and the continent’s prospects for the future.

Main findings of the survey appear to contradict current thinking that the COVID-19 health crisis is the greatest challenge of the time. 

We’ve gotten into a space where Africans don’t think COVID-19 is that much of a crisis. If you go into the informal sector, into the slums – especially in the Kenyan context - they are like, I’m dying anyway because of poverty so there is nothing  new you are telling me. 

Natasha Kimani, Head of Programmes (Shujaaz Inc), 2017 Ibrahim Academy Fellow, Chatham House 

For a majority of the survey respondents, the COVID-19 health risk ranks behind multiple, complex and larger structural concerns such as economic insecurity, other health priorities, democratic threat and the need to change the current economic model. They think that the COVID-19 episode could be a tipping point that triggers a much-needed transformation of the economic model. They are cautiously hopeful for the continent’s future post-pandemic, provided that certain key structural changes in current policies take place in respect to African ownership and self-sufficiency and a greener and more equitable economy. 

Mo Ibrahim, Chair and Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation commented:  

It is encouraging to see this cautious optimism from our young people - who account for almost 60% of Africa’s population. I share their optimism and hope that, through sound governance, countries manage this crisis and move closer towards their social and economic goals. Decision making must include our continent’s greatest asset, its young people, now more than ever.

Following this survey, NGN representatives took part in an online discussion with MIF Board representatives Mo Ibrahim, Graça Machel, Jay Naidoo and Jendayi Frazer. 

Sign up to enews