Pretoria – At least half of the continent’s young people have found themselves unemployed or had to pause their education in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa.
This is according to a report released by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation following the 2021 African Youth Survey.
According to the survey, called the most comprehensive survey of Africa’s youth, nearly four out of 10 youth (37%) polled across the continent had to stop or pause their schooling, and nearly two in 10 (19%) became unemployed as a socio-economic ramification of the pandemic, while 18% were forced to move back home.
One in 10 (10%) surveyed reported they had to care for family members, 8% had their pay docked, while 7% suggested that they were forced to enter the informal economy or take on an additional job to pay their bills.
The foundation revealed that the economic impact of Covid-19 had been worsened by the state of “vaccine apathy”on the continent.
The survey reported that nearly four in 10 (39%) of young African men and women polled would probably not, or definitely would not, take the vaccine if given the opportunity.
This is reflected in the levels of confidence, with 37% of youth not confident that their countries would have access to a safe and effective vaccine.
While they were split on what the focus should be for their countries, 39% believe that reopening their economy should be considered the highest priority for governments, 29% believe preventing the spread of Covid-19 should be prioritised, while 28% maintain that the priority should be vaccine distribution.
It was found that fake news and misinformation about Covid-19 was rife, as over half (58%) polled believe the death toll so far reported by news outlets has been exaggerated to further political agendas.
Nearly six in 10 (56%) believe Covid-19 was developed in a laboratory and intentionally spread by the Chinese government. Almost four in 10 (37%) believe young people to be immune to the disease, while 34% contend that 5G technology contributed to its spread.
Despite the prevalence of vaccine apathy, youth across the continent expressed varying degrees of approval for the way their respective governments had handled their responses to the pandemic.
While a 63% majority approve, strongly or somewhat, of how their national government is handling its response to the outbreak, nearly 20% strongly disapprove.
Ivor Ichikowitz, chairperson of the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, said: “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 health-care systems.
“While Africa’s young people have historically faced acute unemployment, their future prospects have been dramatically compounded by the Covid-19 virus,” he said.