The word millennial has been tossed around in recent years. But what does it mean exactly?
The word millennial is used to describe people of a certain age bracket; between early 1980s and the early 2000s. Several studies, observations, trends and factors have come forth to suggest that people of born during this period are behaviourally different than the generations before them.
Studies point to the fact that millennials were born at a time when the world was witnessing significant changes in politics, economics, culture. But the most important change that occurred to bring about the striking millennial classification has been technological.
Millennials were born around the same time when the internet was created. And over the last 30 years, millennials have grown up to interface and appreciate technology. They have constantly helped develop new ways to use technology.
They have also helped to usher in the digital economy by exploring and pioneering new ways of monetizing ideas through the internet. Over the last decade, millennials have become richer quicker and easier thanks to the internet.
The Rise of the African Millennials
But regardless of global inequalities, millennials are not only found in the developed world. Africa’s young population, is importantly one of the largest millennial population in the world.
Yet there are a few attributes found in African millennials.
Love for Technology
African millennials are extremely tech savvy. Despite the relatively low income of the continent, Africa’s young people appreciate and embrace technology just as much as their foreign counterparts. Especially over the last decade, African millennials have come to co-opt technology quickly. Thanks to cheap android devices, and fairly used laptops being relatively widespread in urban areas of the continent, African millennials have latched on to the benefits of technology and trends to create new opportunities for themselves.
For instance, just as the developed countries have YouTube and Instagram celebrities, Africa has developed its own homegrown stars too. Household names like Craze Clowns and Emmanuella emerged and grew their following from within the continent.
African millennials are increasingly apolitical. Due to the harsh realities and failure of democracy in most African countries,
African millennials love news and information. In the new digital world, information is crucial and African millennials agree. Daily, African millennials share and read millions of informational content. But what’s more interesting, African millennials read contents in various formats. Beyond articles, millennials consume videos, images, infographics and podcasts.
Due to the fact that millennials consume a lot of information, they’ve become highly politically conscious. African millennials follow political news and have high political intelligence. They know and understand the political terrain, but feel they have limited capability to wrestle power from the corrupt political class.
Struggles African Millennials Face
However, the intelligence of African millennials is not matched by the quality education in society. Across the continent, quality education is not as accessible as it should. Universities are increasingly providing retarded knowledge. While secondary and primary school curriculum are not evolving as quickly as they should. This inadequacy affects the sort of skills millennials develop.
Many African millennials are increasingly turning to the internet to acquire skills and knowledge that schools are not providing. From YouTube to Coursera, Udemy and other MOOCs, African millennials are lurking and signing up. Frequently today, African millennials are developing new and relevant skills such as programming, graphics design, video production, among others.
But because jobs are scarce within Africa, millennials are increasingly embracing the digital economy. African millennials with moderate skills are cashing out on platforms such as UpWork, Fiverr, Freelancer and Guru.com.
Yet due to high level stereotypes by foreign buyers, African millennials are increasingly frustrated in the digital economy. Nigerian digital workers increasingly struggle to receive their payments because PayPal blocked the country’s users from receiving payments. Likewise, foreigners are less willing to trust and give jobs to African millennials regardless of how good they are. And in cases where they choose to give jobs to African millennials, they try to undercut them, offering to pay lesser than they should typically pay.
These frustrations have increasingly forced African millennials to consider migrating out of their countries. Majority of African migrants (PDF) crossing the Sahara and the Mediterranean to Europe are millennials. Other migrants consider moving through scholarships and job offers.
Meanwhile due to the tension and struggle to survive the harsh conditions on the continent, African millennials are increasingly vulnerable to depression and suicidal thoughts.
Coupled with this, the African continent is notorious for celebrating successful individuals regardless of the source of their wealth. This trend has continued and has created dangerously huge income inequality between young people.
Social media universe created by technology helps to torment young people and raises the anxiety to make money quickly. Today, many African millennials increasingly consider illegal ways to make money. From ritual practices to financial fraud, young Africans are increasingly money crazy.
So in conclusion, the millennial nametag does not belong to Americans or the Western world alone. African millennials exist and they face their own unique reality that makes them strikingly different.
This article originally appeared on Abubakar Idris's Medium page.