AS the virally-transmissible ‘Delta’ variant of Covid-19 surges across the African continent, findings from the Ichikowitz Family Foundation’s 2021 African Youth Survey reveal that more than half of the continent’s young people found themselves unemployed or had to pause or stop outright their education in the wake of the pandemic.
According to the African Youth Survey, the most comprehensive survey of Africa’s youth, nearly four out of ten (37 percent) youth polled across the continent had to stop or pause their schooling; nearly two in ten (19 percent) became unemployed as a socioeconomic ramification of the pandemic and 18 percent were forced to move back home. One in ten (10 percent) surveyed reported they had to care for family members, 8 percent had their pay docked, while 7 percent suggested that they were forced to enter the informal economy or take on an additional job to pay their bills.‘Vaccine apathy’
The economic impact of Covid-19 has been worsened by the state of ‘vaccine apathy’ presently plaguing the continent. The Survey reports that nearly four in ten (39 percent) young African men and women polled would probably not or definitely not take the vaccine, if given the opportunity. This is reflected in the levels of confidence, with 37 percent of youth not confident that their countries will have access to a safe and effective vaccine.
While they are split on what the focus should be for their countries, a plurality (39 percent) believe that reopening their economy should be considered the highest priority for governments. Twenty-nine percent believe preventing the spread of Covid-19 should be prioritised and 28 percent maintain that the priority should be vaccine distribution.
Fake news and misinformation about Covid-19 is rife. Over half (58 percent) polled believe the death toll thus far reported by news outlets has been exaggerated to further political agendas. Nearly six in ten (56 percent) believe Covid-19 was developed in a laboratory and intentionally spread by the Chinese government. Almost four in ten (37 percent) believe that young people are immune to the disease and 34 percent contend that 5G technology has been contributing to the spread of Covid-19.
Despite the prevalence of vaccine apathy, youth across the continent express varying degrees of approval for the way their respective governments have handled their responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. While a 63 percent majority approve (strongly or somewhat) of how their national government is presently handling its response to the outbreak – nearly 20 percent – strongly disapprove in contrast.
The vast majority (85 percent) of African youth polled are today very or somewhat concerned about the spread of infectious disease. Nearly twice the number of those polled in 2019, when compared to the African Youth Survey’s inaugural findings in 2020, have suggested that death from infectious disease should be viewed as the most impactful event which has occurred on the continent in the last five years.
Ivor Ichikowitz, Chairman of the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, stated: ‘Despite our future potential as a geo-commercial and political power in the world, Africa faces diverse yet escalating challenges, each exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Ours remains the continent with the least amount of vaccines and the weakest healthcare systems.
‘While Africa’s young people have historically faced acute unemployment their future prospects have been dramatically compounded by the Covid-19 virus. More than half of our next generation report in our Survey that they need to pick up the pieces of their lives as a result of the pandemic’s impact.’
Ichikowitz added: ‘It is very worrying that nearly 40 percent of young people are saying that they won’t take a vaccine. This should be a cause of great concern for governments and health authorities as they are battling to fight the spread of the Delta variant. This is further exacerbated by our findings showing high levels of misinformation about the origins, spread and mortality rate of Covid-19.’
In step with its inaugural 2020 rendition, the African Youth Survey 2021 will investigate the views, hopes and aspirations of the continent’s young people on the most pressing, contemporary issues that they face. Topics will range from the impact and legacy of Covid-19 to contemporary education, the embrace of the digital revolution and the rise of e-commerce; from perspectives on maintaining stability against terrorism, crime and other threats to security and peace, to migration and refugee issues; from appreciation for democracy to community tolerance; from addressing corruption to fostering a climate for entrepreneurism and innovation to thrive; from opinions on the economic potential of the newly-formed African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to perceptions of foreign influencers.
‘In many countries in Africa, we are bearing witness to the ramifications of ingrained economic and social dislocations which have been brought under a very public microscope as a result of the pandemic. As reflected on the streets of South Africa in recent months, there is an unprecedented urgency to address these rifts. However, we must view this moment as an opportunity to address the longstanding divisions and infrastructural constraints to growth. It is up to all of us to rise to the occasion to lift the continent to a higher, more inclusive and sustainable growth path,’ Ichikowitz concluded.
- Establishing itself as the pre-eminent source of data on African youth, the Ichikowitz Foundation’s African Youth Survey offers global audiences each year a technical and representative sample across Southern, Central, East and West Africa, allowing for scientific tracking and benchmarking of attitudes and behaviours for the world’s largest collective marketplace and youth demographic over time. In 2021, the study was administered to 4,500 young Africans aged 18-24, carried out across the major urban and rural centres of Angola, Congo Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia.
- The Covid-19 pandemic had a sharply detrimental effect on employment and education on young people across the African continent; by the end of 2020, 1.4 million people had lost their jobs in South Africa alone, representing an 8 percent contraction in that country’s aggregate employment. A report by the African Union (AU) forecasts that due to the coronavirus, ‘…nearly 20 million jobs, both in the formal and informal sectors, are now threatened with destruction.’
- During the first month of the crisis, the World Economic Forum (WEF) estimated that the income of informal workers in the region dropped by 81 percent. In Africa, 85.8 percent of employment, and 95 percent of youth employment, is informal.
- To date, over 37,000,000+ vaccinations have been administered across the continent.
The Ichikowitz Family Foundation is founded upon the belief that Africa’s potential can be unlocked through education, the respect for human rights, a better understanding of Africa’s dynamic history and the conservation of its rich biodiversity. It is committed to the kind of active citizenship that promotes the preservation of Africa’s heritage, the conservation of its environment, and the empowerment of Africa’s youth.
The Foundation uses various channels such as films, music, research, publications and art to foster dialogue between people, to be a torchbearer for innovation and to build a continent where people are encouraged to dream big and achieve the impossible. Key programmes include: the African Oral History Archive, the African Youth Survey, #IamConstitution and the protection of endangered species.
Please visit http://www.ichikowitzfoundation.com for further information.