This is one of 38 winning blogs from the 2021 Blog4Dev competition, the World Bank Africa annual writing contest, inviting young people to weigh in on a topic critical to their country's economic development. Blog4Dev winners responded to the question: How can young people work with their governments and civil society organizations to respond to the impact of COVID-19 and build a stronger post-pandemic economic and social system?
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has undoubtedly exposed the need to address critical issues that have been ignored for too long in Zambia. For example, why do scholars in public schools have very limited access to computers and IT facilities, while the world keeps evolving digitally? Or why do rural communities still experience lack of access to adequate water supply and sanitation facilities?
Now is the time for governments to turn their attention to building a stronger economic future, deliberately addressing the vulnerabilities that the crisis has revealed. Recovery must be built on investments that are quick to implement and have a permanent effect on the economy. This blog suggests the following investments to build a stronger post-pandemic economy in Zambia.
Firstly, governments and civil societies are encouraged to work hand in hand with youths to tackle economic issues and build back better. Young people are at the center of innovation, constantly exploring ways in which processes can be modified to produce efficient and sustainable outcomes. Governments can tap into young people's talent by investing in research and development centers, challenging youths to participate in economic development through innovation competitions, and facilitating the implementation of various initiatives proposed by youths. For example, in Nigeria, a youth-led innovation competition led to the idea of the use of solar panels for sustainable water supply systems in communities without safe water access.
Next, governments are encouraged to provide a suitable environment for young entrepreneurs and start-ups to implement innovative solutions that stimulate job creation. There are many examples of youth-led start-ups that have leveraged on the opportunities provided by technological advances but, however, do not have the financial capacity to scale up operations. If commercialized and scaled up, such innovations could create more employment. Thus, in addition to ensuring access to start-up capital, governments should create a transparent and reliable regulatory environment that facilitates entrepreneurship.
Lastly, the need for alternative methods of inclusive education, away from teacher-classroom norm, cannot be over emphasized. Governments are challenged to ensure that e-learning platforms and IT facilities are at wide reach, especially within rural areas. Youths can also champion this by running learning programs via the internet, radio, or even social media platforms. For example, forming online study groups, digital literacy groups, and engaging with students from different communities. This will ensure that learning across all communities goes uninterrupted.
It is clear that policy makers have been challenged to emerge from the crisis in a way that lays a foundation for stronger, healthy, and sustainable economy in the long run. There is a need to continue creating enabling environments for youth development, participation, and leadership, as well as funding of strategies aimed at building stronger, more equal, and resilient economies. Young people need to be given a voice and action.
Jade Nshimbi is the 2021 Blog4Dev winner from Zambia. See the full list of 2021 Blog4Dev winners here, and read their blog posts.
World Bank Group published this content on 16 September 2021 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 16 September 2021 16:11:01 UTC.