Social Media is the Primary source of information for African youth


According to a recent GeoPoll rapid survey that was  carried out among youth in five Sub-Sahara African countries there has been an increased dependency on technology for young people between the ages of 18-35. From the African millennial series, Africa has the highest population in the world with 200 million people aged between the ages of 15-24. The current trend indicates that this figure will double by 2045, according to the 2012 Afican Economic outlook report by experts from the African Development Bank.

Millennials across the world are defined by their uptake of technology. Affinity to technology by millennials world-wide and specifically so in the west is a study that is currently ongoing and continues to be a fascinating undertaking especially in regards to the African Millennials.

Despite lack of access to smartphones and reliable internet connectivity, the level of uptake and penetration in Africa has hit major milestones in the last 5 years.  According to a report published by GSMA on Africa’s mobile economy in 2016, smartphone adoption in Africa has doubled in two years. Among Sub-Sahara African countries, South Africa has the highest number of smartphone subscribers at 34% followed by Nigeria, Senegal and Kenya.

African millennials are increasingly using download sites to access video entertainment and social media sites as tools for communication and a source of news and information. Mobile data continues to be the most used means through which African millennials access the internet. Social network platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and twitter have become an integral part of everyday life with over 60% using social media as their primary source of information. Television comes a distant 2nd at 25% with newspapers being the least important source 6%.

The second screen phenomenon though not highly prevalent among African Millennials, is one that might change with time. 57% of African Millennials say they sometimes use their smartphone while watching TV, 35% said they are always on their phone. This can be attributed to data costs which are still relatively high in many African countries compared to the rest of the world as well as changing preference among this group on choice of entertainment.

The use of social media platforms such as has become second nature to African Millennials’ lives; WhatsApp and Facebook rank among the platforms with the most usage. 56% have created and are most active on WhatsApp  , while 31% are active on Facebook. Not only do African millennials spend more time on their smartphones than on any other gadget on a daily basis, but they are also more likely to be on WhatsApp chatting. A majority (46%) are actively engaged daily in at least 1-3 WhatsApp groups.

Part of this study was to determine whether or not Sub-Sahara African millennials are addicted to their phones with typical signs of addiction being how often they use their phones, if they took their phones with them to the bathroom, where they placed their phones while sleeping, and if they walk around with a power bank. Whilst this survey does not serve as a psychiatric evaluation, 81% said they place their phone next to their bed while sleeping, 48% carry their phones with them to the washroom and 31% walk around with a power bank in case their phone runs out of battery power.

African Millennials are vanguards of a future Africa and technology is becoming an integral part of it all. As younger millennials continue to make their impact felt in almost every sector, a mobile first approach is crucial for any company that seeks to reach this culture rich group of image conscious, educated and opinionated individuals.s