AU launches month-long continental youth celebrations amid COVID-19 pandemic

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ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA - FEBRUARY 09: A view from opening session of the 33rd African Union Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 09, 2020. This year the summit convened with the theme of 'Silencing the Guns by 2020', which includes economic, social and security issues in Africa. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA – FEBRUARY 09: A view from opening session of the 33rd African Union Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 09, 2020. This year the summit convened with the theme of ‘Silencing the Guns by 2020’, which includes economic, social and security issues in Africa. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The African Union (AU) Commission has launched Africa Youth Month, a one-month-long continental celebration focusing on about 75 percent of Africa’s over 1.2 billion inhabitants, which is said to be under the age of 35.

“We celebrate Africa Youth Day this year in extraordinary circumstances forced upon us by the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat said in his message regarding the continental celebrations issued on Monday

“As the world continues to learn painful lessons from this unprecedented threat to global wellbeing, I wish to salute all frontline workers working tirelessly in our communities to keep our families safe and healthy. Many of these frontline workers are the youth, using innovation and creativity to help track, trace the virus while informing populations with compelling and accurate information, often in our local languages, on how to stay healthy and protect our loved ones and communities,” he added.

Noting that African youth also raised their voices against the unseen impact on mental health that the pandemic was wreaking, the AU Commission chairperson also stressed that the Youth have also stepped up to support their communities and countries to continue working, keeping communities fed during these challenging times.

“Overall, we have seen Africa come together acting early and aggressively at all levels to contain the virus through a coordinated continental strategy,” Mahamat said.

Figures from the AU show that over 75 percent of Africa’s 1.2 billion total population are under the age of 35, while some 453 million Africans are aged between the age range of 15 to 35.

Noting that the youth are at the “very heart of Africa’s development agenda,” the AU stressed that “it goes without saying that the development outcomes of Africa’s young people have a significant and lasting effect on the continent’s trajectory.”

The African continent under the leadership of the AU Commission is celebrating the Africa Youth Month against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, from Nov. 1 to 30 under the theme “Youth Voices, Actions, Engagement: Building a Better Africa.”

According to the AU, this year’s theme of the Africa Youth Month is a clarion call to all young people to view their natural spaces as opportunities to influence their environment, communities, countries and consequently, the African continent.

The Africa Youth Month, among other things, envisaged encouraging young Africans to see themselves as integral to realizing Africa’s continental development Agenda 2063, it was noted.

It also aspires to highlight youth excellence, engagement and impact in traditional and nontraditional engagement spaces, as well as encouraging young Africans to excel in their own spaces, according to the AU.

Due to the COVID-19 realities, the AU Commission will celebrate the month-long Africa Youth Month via online platforms by leveraging youth and partner networks to ensure reach participation across the continent, it was noted.

As of Monday morning, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across Africa reached 1,794,507, as the death toll due to the pandemic rose to 43,176, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

A total of 1,466,776 people who were infected with COVID-19 have recovered across the continent so far, the Africa CDC said.

“As we work to create conducive environments for youth to unlock the full extent of their potential, we remain inspired by voices, actions and engagement of youth all over Africa towards a continent that is peaceful, prosperous and integrated,” the AU Commission chairperson said.

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