New study examines the key influences on Africa’s young people

By our News Team | 2023

Pop culture, religion and community culture are the biggest influences. Family and friends, as well as social media, are also influential.

How are Africa’s young people – that huge consumer audience aged between 18 and 35 – being influenced? This is what a recent study conducted by donor collaborative Africa No Filter set out to determine through a survey of 4,500 people in nine countries on the continent.

The result is the ‘Who is Influencing Who: Unpacking Youth and Influence in Africa’ report published this week. The researchers connected with mostly urban-based young people in Egypt, Morocco, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria to get their insights.

Consumer Influences

Photo credit: Ninara via Wikimedia Commons

According to the research team, the main influences on respondents were pop culture (57%), social media (27%), family and friends (44%), religion (74%) and their communities’ cultural practices (54%). 

While 45% of respondents believed that other African youth were strongly influenced by the United States and Europe, they stated that, for them, family and friends had the biggest influence. However, most Kenyan and South African respondents indicated that social media had more influence (39% each) than family and friends. 

And across the board, respondents’ religions played a large role in their decision-making.

Although more than half of interviewees (58%) said that politicians were the most influential people in their country, only 11% of these young people admitted that they, personally, were influenced by politicians. The only time respondents said they were influenced by politicians was when making voting decisions (51%). 

“However, even in this instance, a worrying 24% said they were not influenced by anyone when they made voting decisions, which might indicate a disinterest in election politics,” the research team observed.

Other key findings to emerge from the report include:

The power of social media
A total of 71% of respondents believed they could challenge negative stereotypes about the continent on social media. While the report does not dig into the origins of this belief, previous research has turned up several examples of how young Africans have – and continue to – shift negative stereotypes at a global level, especially in sharing and using humour to get a message across.

Love for country and continent
Even though 45% of respondents believed their perceptions had been shaped by negative narratives about the continent, 60% still loved their country and the African continent: Only 18% of respondents indicated that they would rather live in the United States or Europe, only 20% believed that there are fewer opportunities on the African continent than elsewhere, and only 17% believed that they experienced a lower quality of life on the continent than they would elsewhere.

Movies drive stereotypes about Africa

For 54% of respondents, the most common narratives about Africa in movies were about crime and corruption, and 41% said they were stories about underdeveloped cities. Seventy-five percent of respondents believed these stories created a negative perception about the continent, with Kenyans (83%), Ghanaians and Zimbabweans (82% each) most convinced of the negative impact.

Moky Makura, Executive Director at Africa No Filter, comments: “This is a must-read for any organisation working with, and in, Africa because it unpacks what influences the largest demographic in the continent. Sadly, African youth haven’t escaped the impact of negative stereotypes, but the good news is that it hasn’t defined their perceptions – and that has a lot to do with social media, and the agency it gives them.”

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.