Africa’s youth are confronted with an increasingly complex socio-economic and political context which is hindering their empowerment: extensive poverty, limited access to education, lack of employment opportunities, limited benefits from globalization, water scarcity, peace and security challenges, violent extremism, sexual violence, corruption, and forced migration, to name just a few. These challenges have been exacerbated by the advent of the new Covid-19 pandemic which emerged in late 2019 infecting more than seven hundred thousand persons in Africa and causing the death of approximately 15,000 in less than seven months, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) as 17 July 2020.The effects of the pandemic, globally, have been felt beyond the health sector and Africa has not been spared in all the afore-mentioned sectors. This pandemic broke out at a time when Africa was grappling with the implementation the African Union (AU)’s annual theme ‘Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development’ against the backdrop of Agenda 2063, which articulates the pan-African vision of an ‘integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa’. The Silencing the Guns programme of the African Union(AU) intended to dedicate the Year 2020 to tackling decisively the root causes of conflicts and accelerate the resolution of a number of peace processes, as well as solidify the resilience and capacity of African Peer Review Mechanism 230, 15th Road, Randjespark, Midrand, South Africa Tel: +27 (0) 11 256 3424 3 Member States to address vulnerabilities more comprehensively, efficiently and effectively. Needless to say, these ambitions have been slowed down with the pandemic due to the lids placed on movement, travel bans, etc.
Against the above background, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) will convene a series of webinars led by the APRM Youth Network to galvanize youth voices, their perspectives and to assess the extent of the impact of COVID-19 on peace and security; are there new causes that could create conflicts in Africa other than the traditionally accepted drivers? Are these amplified due to the pandemic? Are the eight root causes of conflicts identified in the AU Silencing the Guns Roadmaps persisting or have they transformed in their respective regions due to the pandemic? The webinars series will thus concurrently contribute to operationalizing of the African Youth Charter in APRM States’. It should be recalled that the APRM, which is a selfmonitoring instrument to which Member States of the African Union (AU) accede voluntarily, is also required, under Paragraph 25 of its Base Document, to advise the Peace and Security Council (PSC) on early warning related issues structural vulnerabilities in line with the Decision of the AU Assembly