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27 May 2021

Quick Take: How Young Africans Find a Voice on Social Media

Social media has united people from coast to coast across racial and ethnic lines. It has also stirred a new generation of young activists, entrepreneurs and influencers. All of whom are leading necessary reforms, expanding the exchange of information, career interests, and other forms of expression through virtual communities and networks. Social media has undeniably opened doors that might have seemed non-existent a few decades ago.

Over the last few years, especially in the last year, social platforms in Africa and other parts of the world have spurred social advocacy. As the platforms have become channels for the voiceless and a home for what some Africans have now termed “Social media police” or #twitterpolice. For instance, social media was especially instrumental in the movement of the Nigerian #EndSars protest taking the nationwide protest to the global stage, inspiring Nigerians in the diaspora and other communities of the world to weigh in.

In addition, with Social media open to the average African’s use, there’s a level playing ground for new industry participants to leverage and grow from scratch. Within the first few months or even weeks; most serious startups have a website and network presence that announces to the world that they are ready to do business. Invariably, offering some level of prominence and in few cases a chance to become social media sensations like Elsa Majimbo, a Kenyan internet comedienne from Nairobi who became famous during quarantine in 2020 and has been featured on Naomi Campbell’s Being Naomi and the popular American Comedy Central show.

It is indeed amazing that albeit that the best average speed for mobile internet in Africa is as low as 44.80 Mbps in South Africa, which is less than half of the national average of 99.3 Mbps in the US for the first quarter of 2021. Social media platforms continue to encourage socio-political transparency within the African government. For instance, Ugandans faced the shutdown of the internet and all forms of social media in the week leading up to the national elections.

Social media in Africa has played a huge role in uniting young Africans towards a social Pan-Africanist society. Its platforms Facebook, Twitter, Tik-Tok, Clubhouse, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc, continue to give a voice that challenges the status quo in the African socio-political arena as the continent’s overall historical passage opens up to new experiences beyond the old perspective.

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