AU, others woo youths to boost COVID-19 vaccination by 70% in Africa
African Union (AU) has collaborated with Trace TV to engage the creative community in pushing its Bingwa Initiative geared at increasing COVID-19 vaccination across Africa by 70 per cent in 2023.
The programme, which is also in partnership with the African Centre for Disease Control (CDC), GIZ and MasterCard, has public figures and social media influencers like The Pamilerin, Jenni Frank, Nigerian singer, Chike and comedian, Pencil, among others engaged to promote COVID-19 vaccination championed by African youths.
The strategy is to get the continent’s young population mobilise their peers, families and communities for vaccination against the pandemic.
Speaking at a strategic workshop in Lagos, acting Director of AU Commission’s Women, Gender and Youth Directorate, Ngwenya Nonkululeko, noted that the initiative is a response to the innovative ways requested by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa during the AU Heads of State Summit in January 2022.
She recalled that the President called for mechanisms to increase COVID-19 vaccination rate to 70 per cent by 2023, adding that this sparked the idea for the AU COVID-19 Vaccination Bingwa Initiative.
Nonkululeko explained that a Bingwa activator is a vaccinated young person, who commits to mobilising at least 10 people to get vaccinated and using their resources to achieve set out results, including reaching the 70 per cent target.
“The initiative is a public-private youth initiative driven by our partnerships, which include UNICEF, MasterCard Foundation, GIZ, Trace TV, Meta, TikTok and One Campaign,” she added.
In his remarks, Senior Technical Officer for Strategic Programmes, Africa CDC executive office, Chrys Promesse Kaniki, said the continent’s 20.2 per cent rate is the lowest in the world. He submitted that young people are the gateway to the larger community and have an abundance of innovation and creativity to ensuring that the 70 per cent target is met.
“The Binigwa Initiative should be owned by local communities. A coalition of youths, media influencers and religious leaders must be mobilised to promote the initiative,” Kaniki said.
On his part, Trace Anglophone West Africa’s Head of Music and Broadcast, Lanre Masha, noted that COVID-19 had become topical, regretting that misinformation about the disease’s side effects had kept people from getting vaccinated.
He stated that having the right information and seamless access to vaccines would increase vaccination rates in Africa and check the spread of the virus and accompanying mortalities.