Africa: New Study Focuses On How to Reach Youth Through Media in Sub-Saharan Africa - What Share of the Youth Market Have You Got?

28 February 2019
analysis

London — A new study looks at what youth in Sub-Saharan Africa does, thinks and feels. Africa's traditional media is in danger of losing its youth audiences to social media. The commissioner of the study, Aric Noboa talks about why youth are a vital audience and what the study says about them.

In less than 10 years, Africa will be home to a billion people under the age of 24. There is little doubt that this group of young people will largely determine the shape of our world. What's more, accelerating urban migration and digital access means their global impact will be swifter than for any previous generation.

The social, economic and educational opportunities and challenges faced by these young people are vast. Social Impact Media (which has been producing edutainment content) has an essential role to play in helping this generation maximize their potential while advancing public health, environmental and education outcomes in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Today's media is just an evolution of the storytelling, which humans have been doing since the beginning of time - driving connection, discovery and learning. There is an opportunity at the present moment to scale up the creation and distribution of locally relevant and memorable media content - grounded in powerful stories - made specifically for and alongside this growing African youth demographic. But in order to maximize the impact of media and storytelling to change lives, we need a robust, cost-effective and timely evidence base from which to build.

With that in mind, my organization, Discovery Learning Alliance commissioned the Research, Insight and Evaluation team at M&C Saatchi World Services to help us deepen our understanding of the rapidly changing media consumption habits of young people in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. The study offers a new analysis of existing data on youth media habits, alongside newly conducted targeted interviews with relevant experts to produce insights that will help us and others harness the opportunity for impact.

The report gives valuable insight into the preferences, interests and consumption habits of African youth. Importantly, it also helps us understand what kind of content young people are seeking. With this foundation, we want to expand co-creation of content with young people, resulting in new solutions, information and opportunities for them to maximize their potential.

Here are some insights from this report:

- Digital Access is growing, but confined: By 2020, the number of mobile broadband connections in Sub-Saharan Africa will reach 500 million. However, prohibitive data costs confine this access largely to social media applications on phones and limit the audience for data-consuming activities, such as streaming music and video.

- "Glocal" Identities: Young Africans increasingly express themselves by integrating global trends with national, local and age-related themes and fashions. Global brands are responding in-kind with more targeted national and regional marketing campaigns that have adopted this hallmark of self-expression. One example is Nike's 'Naija' sports line, designed for the 2018 World Cup and worn by the Nigerian national team, which adopted a local term especially associated with the country's youth.

- There is a striking gender divide in internet access: Young urban men often access the internet at a far greater rate than their female peers in Sub-Saharan Africa. For example, in Zimbabwe, just 14% of young women vs. 38% of young men report using the internet. This is a huge potential market that deserves the attention of policymakers, content creators and distributors working together to drive gender equality in access.

- There is no "one" Africa, but there are opportunities for pan-African content: While we must work to understand the unique preferences and challenges of each country's youth, certain areas provide great opportunities to transcend borders within the region. Music and cinema have been particularly successful in this regard, as illustrated by the success of the African versions of Coke Studio and The Voice, and pan-African film festivals.

The report was released this week at the first-ever Africa Social Behavior Change Conference in Nairobi, which explored a variety of ongoing initiatives driving change across the continent. To make media for social impact relevant and empowering, evidence-based research is critical. Young people in Africa are realizing their full potential. The media community (in Africa as well as across the world) has a unique opportunity to take hold of this moment, and come alongside them. Click here to download the Young Lives Report

The research has uncovered that whilst the DTT process has been, and for the majority of countries still is being, a complex project there are expected to be significant developments over the next 24 months. In fact, we're predicting that an additional 83 million African households will have access. The report is priced at £1850, however, until the end of April, we'd be happy to offer you a 25% discount from that, which would reduce the price to £1385. Knowing your area of work, I believe that the level of detail in this report would be beneficial to you and your company. If you'd like to get a feel for the contents of the report please let me know by reply and I can send you over the Executive Summary and the Burkina Faso Country Analysis as an example. Send your email to: editorial@balancingact-africa.com

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