Worried about the economy amidst COVID-19, young people in Seychelles say they want to see the island nation diversify away from its reliance on tourism and grow the island nation’s ICT sector and agriculture production to lower its reliance on imports.
SNA spoke to several young people to get their point of view on how COVID-19 has impacted Seychelles, what changes they would like to see as well as opportunities presented.
Anael Bodwell, a co-founder of SIDS Aims Youth Hub (SYAH), said that as a young Seychellois, she is “very worried about both the short-term and long-term impact of COVID-19 on our country.”
“So many businesses have been affected making it yet harder for young people to venture into SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprise) now, most of which are struggling and trying so hard to recuperate,” she said.
She added that the pandemic has forced the archipelago in the western Indian Ocean to be more innovative and venture into new strategies in order to keep some of these businesses afloat.
“Most importantly it has taught our professionals and experts that it is imperative that we diversify our economy; we cannot rely solely on tourism. We have brilliant young people who are experts in agriculture, maritime and ICT sectors. Now more than ever I am eager to see them respond smartly to the country’s needs,” Bodwell said.
Echoing the need to diversify the economy, Jade Jules told SNA that though the country is small, Seychelles has a lot of potential. He outlined that the country needs to cut on its dependency on imported food items such as vegetables and meat.
“The country should have strengthened other economic sectors. We cannot keep on importing vegetables and meat when we have farmers in the country who can produce them. This is the time may be to set up more factories for processing and packaging meat products. What if we were to export salted fish on a greater scale,” he said.
Jules, who is studying business administration and is an aspiring model, pointed out that “in Seychelles, there is a buy and resell mentality with little being produced locally.”
He sees the fashion industry as a great potential contributor to the economy “if we were to promote our local designers.”
Angelique Popounneau, another young Seychellois, told SNA that COVID-19 has provided the country with an opportunity to test the ‘working from home’ concept which most organisations or people were not employing before the pandemic.
“The test was unfair on some as a true test of working from home because this was being done simultaneously, with home-school for parents and the usual household responsibilities, so it would have been very burdensome on some to be a parent, teacher, chef, worker in the same time frame and in the same physical space,” she said.
Popounneau, who is chief executive of the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT), added that whether people will see the working from home concept continue into the future, depends on the willingness of the organisations to create work environments that work for their workers.
“Some jobs are simply not able to be performed from home but many jobs can be. Each worker is different and at different stages of their lives, so providing that flexibility and choice, based on mutual agreement between the employer and employee can provide an avenue for continuing this set up into the future,” she added.