An Africa United – Fostering Resilience Post COVID-19
In 2020 the coronavirus pandemic threatens up to twenty million jobs in Africa,  and that does not even account for the direct health impact on people’s lives. Even in this dire state, the African Leadership Academy Model African Union (ALAMAU) remains optimistic that we shall overcome COVID-19 and the daily challenges it poses to our people. Projecting to a post-COVID future, our theme encourages technological advancements in health, business, and education; the bolstering of our economic systems and energy sources; and the robustness of our governance and security structures, while advancing our continental unity. Rather than sink in response to this crisis, the strength of our African continent will be determined by how high we rise above it.
Focusing specifically on health and education, significant progress has been made over the past decade to better manage the spread of diseases and ensure that the youth is equipped with the necessary resources needed for this digital revolution. Nonetheless, COVID-19 has exposed clear gaps in our medical and learning institutions that need to be bridged. As such, for a sustainable recovery, Africa needs to build more capacity and durability to enable these sectors to withstand future pandemics and excel in the globalized world. Doing so will require us to shift our focus to preventative approaches for medical stability, particularly in conflict zones to avoid humanitarian disasters, as well as to advance our scientific research to improve Africa’s medical readiness. As witnessed through the work of the World Health Organisation, there is huge benefit to sharing research and resources to maximize the efficiency of our medical services and mitigate infrastructural and institutional challenges. Gauging the education sector, it is paramount that we commit to rethinking our traditional methods of teaching and learning. We need to urgently incorporate digital innovation to provide internet access to students on the continent and bridge the digital gap between Africa and the world.
We have seen COVID-19 shake African economies in a manner that little else has in recent history. For a firm and inclusive recovery, we should commit to broadening our horizons to practically – and not just theoretically – include and support women and youth, as well as the informal sector. Additionally, we need to reconsider our national policies around debt, agriculture and energy sources. Considering that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are responsible for 52% of jobs held by women and youth in emerging countries, it is paramount that we adequately strengthen their economic status.  On a grassroots level, our approaches must be intensive and high-impact, including through the acceleration of digital financial inclusion. Furthermore, we ought to reorient Africa’s debt situation and continental policies around public debt for a sustainable economic recovery. In rural areas, agriculture is by far the most important economic activity. Hence, empowering agricultural industries and markets will safeguard food security and strong agri-practices post-COVID-19. While committing to our important initiatives, we need to preserve our energy sources for the lasting viability of our economies and livelihoods.
As we arm ourselves in the struggle against this pandemic, we also need to build capacity to protect our people’s human rights and shield them against extremism. With the re-emergence of insurgents in northern Mozambique, Chad, and Niger amongst others, we need to sharpen our terrorism prevention strategies for lasting peace and a secure future. Additionally, we cannot turn a blind eye to imminent issues around state policing powers that violate human rights. Our continent needs to be firm on holding states accountable that are actively threatening the dignity of our people.
It is imperative that we do not merely stop at a recovery, but that we build sustainable resilience. ALAMAU 2021 will accordingly work towards an Africa that will stand socially, economically, and politically resilient in the face of adversity, with full confidence in her ability to bring restoration and prosperity to her people. An Africa united will emerge, even more powerfully than before.
 AfricaNews. “AU Report Projects 20 Million Job Loses in Africa Due to Coronavirus.” Africanews, Africanews, 9 April. 2020, www.africanews.com/2020/04/09/au-report-projects-20-million-job-loses-in-africa-due-to-coronavirus//.
 Decent Jobs for Youth.Youth Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment, August 2017, www.decentjobsforyouth.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Thematic-Plan-5-Youth-entrepreneurship.pdf