By Diana Schvarztein, Policy Manager, Policy Analysis and Guidance, AFI
Young people across the world have been significantly impacted by the COVID‑19 crisis. AFI members have been responding to this urgency by implementing policy actions to mitigate its consequences and facilitate recovery and resilience. In Africa in particular, some of these responses bore witness to how inclusive policymaking can help carry young people through times of crisis, especially in vulnerable segments.
Drawing on the experiences of its regional members and stakeholders, AFI has put together a report – entitled Policy Responses to COVID-19 for the Youth Population in Africa – capturing some of the most remarkable COVID-19 policy lessons and responses from the African continent.
In reference to the 5E framework (employment, education, entrepreneurship, engagement, and enabling environment), this publication analyzes the remaining challenges facing youth financial inclusion in Africa as a result of COVID-19 and presents examples of policy responses implemented. Finally, it provides recommendations for crisis mitigation and recovery, specifically focused on boosting youth financial inclusion.¹
Youth at risk as COVID-19 deepens pre-existing inequalities
Even before the pandemic, youth in many parts of the world faced many barriers to their social and economic independence. Some of these constraints have been severely exacerbated by COVID-19, specifically within the most vulnerable youth segments such as refugees, rural youth, and youth with disabilities. This was particularly evident in the following cases:
COVID-19 Policy Responses Supporting Youth
AFI members and public entities across Africa have been responding to the consequences of COVID-19, mitigating their impact through a variety of policy approaches, including:
“Employment programs, such as the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund have the potential to build the capacity and resilience of youth. We are calling for more policy options, more policy initiatives and a combination of policies to try and unfreeze this space for our youth so they could be resilient, they could sustain themselves and they could survive the impact of COVID.”
(Paul Oluikpe, Central Bank of Nigeria, 2021)
A public-private partnership (PPP) is important from an employment and entrepreneurial perspective as “youth can be trained not just as employees but also as employers”.
(Rachel Mushosho, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, 2021)
A multisectoral approach to tackling youth inclusion challenges
In conclusion, the report provides policy recommendations for crisis mitigation and recovery, specifically among vulnerable youth groups. It centers on the following key areas of youth financial inclusion:
Youth populations are heterogeneous, and so should be the measures taken to tackle the challenges facing their financial inclusion. Therefore, this promising generation needs tailored policies and regulations to realize its full potential and ensure its sustainable recovery from the pandemic. Lessons learned from policy responses in Africa can be applied in other parts of the world to promote crisis preparedness, mitigation, and recovery in the future.
The report can be found here.