African Youth Shaping Media and Future Markets

Defined by diversity, Africa is 30,370,000 square kilometres in size, stretching across the northern and southern hemispheres. Home to over 2000 indigenous languages apart from English, French, and Portuguese, and the youngest average age of any continent. The youth who call it home are becoming a market force. To tap into their buying power, entrepreneurs must listen to them before developing their marketing strategies, because relying on Western definitions of this demographic could result in missing your target.

Most of Africa’s 1.4 billion people are the youth. Over 800 million people of the population are under the age of 35. But, terms like Millennial and Gen Z fall short of fully understanding them, their needs, and what drives their decisions. By listening to their life experience, Africa’s entrepreneurs can better cater to them.

Africa’s history has been smeared by colonialism, slavery, and later, the various liberation movements. While Baby boomers in the West became the market segment that cemented the importance of popular culture, post World War II youth of Africa were forced into fighting for freedom in their countries. This shaped the development trajectories of millions of people. These life experiences were completely different to their peers in developed countries. Their stories weren’t listened to. Media from that era is built mostly on people’s perceptions of Africa, rather than reality.

It would be easy for African entrepreneurs to fall into a similar trap. For example, the demographic born from the mid 1990s to the late 2000s are generally known as Gen Z. Yet, in South Africa they could be identified as Born Frees, the nickname given to children born after its first democratic elections. Living in the most unequal country in the world means that most are excluded from opportunities that would help them build their lives as adults. This is partly due to the legacy of Apartheid. Therefore, 2024 is an important election year for the country. Thirty years after gaining freedom, Born Frees are seen as the largest voting block, which might change the shape of its political landscape for decades to come. Yet, they are seen as apathetic because politicians and political parties aren’t listening to them.


Garland Bradford is a self-described Afro Optimist. He graduated with a National Diploma in Public Relations Management from the University of Johannesburg in 2006. 11 years later he completed his post graduate BA Honours in Media Studies from the University of South Africa. Who has over a decade and a half’s experience as a media generalist. Which gives him a Swiss Army knife skills set in the field. He has given talks on IP for Animation Nigeria. He currently works as is a media consultant.

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