South African President Cyril Ramaphosa encouraged the nation’s youngsters Tuesday to help develop the economy after COVID-19.

“There has to be life beyond COVID-19. We are looking forward to innovation, creativity and new ideas from young people and we want young people who are going to speak out and step forward,” Ramaphosa said during a Youth Day virtual commemoration event.

Ramaphosa participated in an interactive panel session with young people as part of an annual event commemorating 44 years since a deadly Soweto student uprising.

The president said although COVID-19 has had devastating effects, it presents new opportunities.

“COVID-19 is pregnant with opportunities. So I am throwing a challenge to young people to begin to see that post COVID-19 there is a new platform,” he said.

“We need to set up different ways of running our economy, ownership of our economy, managing our economy and even production,” he said, adding that the pandemic ushered in a new digital society the youth must use to the benefit of rebuilding the country’s economy and empowerment.

The South African leader said he believed 2020 will be a turning point to change the way the country’s economy is set up.

He asked the younger generation if they would emulate the youth of June 16, 1976, who said enough is enough with oppression and take part in the economy of South Africa post COVID-19.

He pledged to support young South Africans who bring new ideas that will rebuild the economy and urged others to support them.

Dozens of students were killed by apartheid police in the Soweto student uprising in 1976, when, fed up with the policies of white minority rule, they marched to the township to protest against the use of the Afrikaans language as a medium of instruction in schools.

Police opened fire, killing dozens, although the exact number remains unknown.

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