Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) kicks off its “The 77 percent” project to give young Africans under 35 a platform to share their voices, writes Claus Stäcker, Head of DW’s Africa Service
77 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa are younger than 35, according to the World Bank. They go to school, study, look for jobs. They want to marry, take on responsibility. They are linked up via Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.
And they have come to realize: We are the three-quarters majority, but we have little to say. Our concerns and fears are not being heard. Our politicians do not take us seriously enough.
These young people are mostly ruled by elderly leaders: Robert Mugabe was 93 when he stepped down. For young Zimbabweans he no longer had any solutions to offer.
Africa’s youth is bursting with energy and ideas. A young, dynamic generation, but with little to look forward to. Are politicians doing enough to address the concerns of this group?
Driven by wild dreams and unrealistic yearnings, many young people make the journey to Europe or South Africa, using dangerous, irregular routes. In numerous programs and social media debates, DW took up the worries and hopes of young people.
In town hall debates in Abidjan, Accra, Bamako, Banjul, Conakry, Dakar, Jos and Niamey, DW and African partner stations discussed the topic of migration with young members of the audience and politicians. The debates were outspoken and emotional and clearly showed how great the need is to exchange views and express concerns directly to those in authority. The project “The 77 percent” is where this exchange should take place. On social media, radio and TV.
“The 77 percent” aims to inform and help but also entertain. It’s the young people who determine the contents: whether it’s tips for job seekers or for those already running a business, whether it’s presenting cool ideas from other countries or confronting politicians with tough questions, all mixed with cartoons and satire. “The 77 percent” also wants to make people laugh and inspire them to dream. It’s a platform for Africa’s majority.
Many people know DW as a radio broadcaster. Many have grandparents who listened to Deutsche Welle. Almost 40 million Africans switch on a DW program every week. More than four million follow DW on Facebook. The basic principle has not changed: We listen to all sides and report in a fair and balanced manner. “The 77 percent” is the platform on which we listen to Africa’s majority. And give them a voice.
Join in and be part of it!