Since its declaration as a pandemic by the WHO, the COVID -19 has impacted the lives of many people around the world. One of such groups that are greatly affected by this novel virus is the youths of the Gambia.
The Gambia, like most developing countries, has been struggling to control the spread of this deadly virus and at the same time managing the macroeconomic issues as the crisis protracts.
In April 2020, the International Labor Organization (ILO) has reported that “the crises fall hardest on the most vulnerable. When it comes to the social and economic impacts of the pandemic, young people are more likely to feel the pinch harder”. This has manifested in the lives of the youths of The Gambia too.
In this opinion article, Momodou S. Fatty, a young Gambian and accountant, discusses how COVID-19 may impact young people in the Gambia.
1. Youth Unemployment
The Gambia’s estimated unemployment rate for 2019 is approximately 8.90%, and with the evolution of Covid-19, Trading Economics global macro models and analysts experts have estimated that the unemployment rate at 9.5-10%.
Young people that lost their jobs are exposed to a lot of social, economic, physical and mental trauma. These challenges can often have an everlasting numbers effect on one’s life. Consequently, the Government could lose tax revenues, and this may also limit the budget support for youths.
2. Access to Education
Covid-19 has changed the entire existing systems of learning. The new approach to education has its drawbacks which may not be sustainable for all parties.
Most parents are now more economically prudent, giving priority to food than education, thereby forcing unwanted dropouts. As these numbers aggregate, the risk of unemployment for both the formal and informal sector is imminent.
3. Access to Finance
Youths that are currently in business, those planning to start a business and those going for expansion now have a bigger challenge not only limited to the demand for their products or services but also the access to finance from banks and other financial service providers. Banks now have a stricter credit administration which the youths may likely fail to meet the requirements. For instance, proper cash flow projection and substantial collateral to back your loan amount.
4. Personal Savings
Youths that were engaged in economic activities and saved some monies for future obligations, now run the risk of using those funds if they have no other income. They would be forced to sustain themselves for food and health rather than reinvesting in their businesses, education and social growth.
5. Possible increase in Crime Rates
As indicated in point 1, the unemployment rate may increase by about 2%. Research has shown some positive relationship between crime and unemployment. Therefore, this growth in unemployment may impact the youths to venture into criminal activities which could be destructive to their lives and other people.
In conclusion, as COVID-19 crisis persists, there are economic impacts, and the youths will likely be impacted more. Therefore, the policymakers should consider the youths as accounts for more than 60% of the Gambian population.
Momodou S. Fatty
Professional Accountant, Banker and blogger