Implementation of Joint COMESA-AU Youth Project Delayed

Youth expected to suffer the brunt of unemployment owing to COVID-19

The implementation of the Joint COMESA-African Union Project, which was meant to contribute to youth empowerment and participation in promoting accountable governance in the region and the African continent has been delayed.

This is due to the spread of the Coronavirus and will mainly affect activities that involve international travel and physical meetings such as the second Bootcamp meeting scheduled for the second quarter of 2020.

The Director of Gender in COMESA, Mrs. Beatrice Hamusonde said that youth leaders and policy makers from ten COMESA countries were expected to participate in the Bootcamp.

“With the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, the project implementation will have some delay depending on how long the crisis will last,” she said.

Before the outbreak of the COVID-19, the youth project was progressing well and had implemented key activities including the hosting the continental youth forum. This was a regional capacity strengthening residential bootcamp for youth leaders. In addition, a national workshop on youth participation and engagement in political processes, youth councils and civic spaces had been conducted in Zambia.

The project on youth engagement in democratic governance and socio-economic processes in Africa is a joint programme between COMESA and the Africa Union  supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Meanwhile, a recent study by the African Union Commission found that the youth will be hardest hit by the effects of the Coronavirus as around 20 million jobs, in both formal and informal sectors could be lost in Africa and the COMESA region.

This is because the continent’s economies are projected to shrink due to the impact of COVID-19.

“As most of the African population is comprised of youth at 65%, it goes without saying that the majority of people to lose jobs in Africa in general and in COMESA region in particular will be young people,” the report says.

The report further notes that the youth are consistently facing unemployment and this pandemic will worsen the situation. The expected collapse of most small businesses that were focused on import and export, tourism, and other businesses that employ youth will have the biggest negative impact on the jobs for youths.

These include shopping malls, communication related companies, construction industry, public service transport, hotels, bars, restaurants, hair salons among others.

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