One of Africa’s youngest cabinet members to date is experiencing a baptism of fire.
Emma Theofelus, 23, was appointed Namibia’s information, communication and technology deputy minister a week after corona virus hit Namibian shores. “I have literally been learning on the job so far,” she says.
Part of Emma's role is to help lead communication to the public on preventative steps against the pandemic.
The former youth activist and justice ministry legal officer was having a quiet Saturday at home when the surprise call came from State House.
“I have been put in a position, regardless of what limitations I might have, to show up and do the best that I can do,” says Theofelus, who has had to learn very quickly how to navigate governance and political issues.
So far Namibia has seen “tremendous results” in giving real-time information about corona virus to the media and the public while thwarting fake news, she says.
Young people are mostly appointed half-heartedly, because the older generation doesn’t want to give up power
The appointment of younger leaders to high office is not entirely new in Africa. Thomas Sankara, for example, was 33 when he became president of Burkina Faso in 1983, and Abiy Ahmed was appointed Ethiopian prime minister last year at the age of 41.
But Theofelus is female, particularly young and representative of a continent where almost 60% of the population is under 25 years old, and where many presidents are among the oldest in the world.