On 22 February 2020, African Union Ministers of Health and Heads of Delegation gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for an emergency meeting on the ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The African Continental Strategic Plan for COVID-19 PANDEMIC has been adopted with the establishment of the Africa Taskforce for Novel Coronavirus (AFCOR), which is a continental platform to better coordinate our efforts across Africa.
AFCOR is divided into six Working Groups that regularly report to the Steering Committee chaired by the Director of the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
As mandated by the chairperson, the Youth Envoy launched 2019/20 Action Plan which has four Models of Action including Advocacy Model. Therefore, between 23 March and 17 April 2020, the Office of the Youth Envoy convened in collaboration with Africa CDC Virtual AU Youth Consultations Series on COVID-19 advocating for a Collective Youth Response with over 300 youth leaders from over 40 African countries throughout 12 virtual consultations.
This aligns with the AUC’s 1 Million by 2021 Initiative, which seeks to provide opportunities for African youth in the areas of employment, education, entrepreneurship and engagement (4Es). Under the engagement pillar, the initiative seeks to create meaningful platforms for youth to contribute to the response to the pandemic and provides an opportunity for youth-led advocacy.
The African continent’s demographic structure is different from other regions in the world. The median age of the 1.3 billion population in Africa is 19.7 years. By contrast, the median age in China is 38.4 years, and the median age in the European Union is 43.1 years. Although Africa’s youth may be considered a significant protective factor in the pandemic, how the virus will evolve and manifest itself on the continent remains unknown. It is evident that the socio-economic impact will affect primarily African Youth who already struggle with high rates of unemployment, lack access to education and healthcare, and who are already experiencing violence, conflict, and instability.
The following challenges have been identified by young people during consultations;
- Lack of effective and innovative communication to reach African youth in the communities who are either in denial of or fear from the virus
- Lack of timely dissemination of credible and accessible information to raise awareness (especially for youth in rural, remote, and informal settlements and youth experiencing forced displacement and other forms of marginalization)
- Lack of recognition of youth’s critical role in preventing the spread of the virus and contributing to frontline responses to the global challenge
- Lack of engagement of young professionals in the scientific conversation and resource mobilization to contain the virus (hygiene, research, design, etc.)
- Socio-Economic impact on youth (unemployment, food insecurity, gender-based violence, racism and discrimination, etc.)
African Youth Front on Coronavirus is a multi-stakeholder advocacy group of youth and intergenerational networks to support the implementation of the African Continental Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Pandemic.
The group is an African Union framework that will engage African youth in decision-making and a seat at the table to contribute youth-led solutions and co-lead Africa’s response to the pandemic.
Youth networks are identified as a result of the Virtual AU Youth Consultations Series on COVID-19 following the convening of over 300 youth leaders from 40 countries throughout 12 virtual consultations.
- Organize, mobilize and unite youth and grassroots civil society actors
- Convene and facilitate the Virtual AU Youth Consultations Series on COVID-19 to regularly inform, brief and engage youth constituencies and address the needs of especially marginalized youth
- Support advocacy and implementation of Africa CDC communication strategy, the African Continental Strategic Plan for COVID-19 and the work of the six working groups of AFCOR
Structure and Membership
The group will convene at least once per week remotely and will regularly report to the Steering Committee of AFCOR. Membership will include representatives of youth networks, civil society organizations, social entrepreneurs, student unions, national youth councils and AU Youth boards. The group aims for 20 members with participation from each of the five regions.
Members include East African Community Youth Ambassadors Platform, National youth councils from each region, African Women Leaders Network (youth caucus), African Youth Ambassadors for Peace, AU Youth Advisory Council, African Youth Advisory Board for Disaster Risk Reduction, Federation of African Medical students, GIMAC Young Women Network, MILEAD among other youth networks.
The African Union Commission Chairperson's Special Envoy on Youth will chair the African Youth Front on Coronavirus in close collaboration with Africa CDC.
Action items of the group will be reported weekly to Africa CDC for inclusion in Africa CDC’s periodic updates to the Member States about COVID-19
Public Service Champions Group
A group of youth champions in public service including public health officials, ministers, parliamentarians and presidential advisors will accompany the group.
Observer members will attend meetings and support the group mobilization and actions in the communities including the World Scout organization, One Young World, Junior Chamber International, AIESEC, YMCA, Global Shapers, Atlantic Dialogues Emerging Leaders, GAPMIL and ONE campaign among other partners.