Africa has a very young population with a median age of 19.4 years and over 60% below the age of 25. Unemployment is a big issue in Africa, especially among the youths. African youths are on the receiving end of bad government and leadership from the post-colonial era, as most of them are unemployed or unemployable; they face roughly double the unemployment rate of adults. Of Africa’s nearly 420 million youth aged between 15-35, one-third are unemployed and discouraged, another third are vulnerably employed and only one in six are on wage employment. Such a level of unemployment results in them spending more time on social media platforms, compared to adults. It was reported that young people of age 16 – 34 make up more than 60 per cent of social media users.
Social media has greatly changed the way we live in Africa and the changes are more evident among the youths. It has become a powerful tool in the hands of young Africans and has given them a voice and control like never before. It has also given them social and economic opportunities for a better life; they are able to promote and sell their products and skills online at minimal cost. African youths in business online are able to connect directly with suppliers and customers as they don’t have to pay marketing or advertising agencies to push their products to consumers; they are using social media to easily market and sell their skills across state and national boundaries. This is common with skills like photography, makeup artistry, baking, painting etc. and those that use it for e-commerce mostly sell clothes, gadgets, shoes, bags, body creams etc.
Agro products and services are also being promoted and sold on social media. Though the use is relatively lower when compared to cosmetics, fashion and tech – as young people are less interested in agriculture. Young people, especially from the middle belt of Nigeria, have started using social media to advertise and sell farm produce like onions, tomatoes and potatoes directly from the farm. One example is BamshakPotato, who sells Irish potatoes and other vegetables straight from a farm in Bokkos in plateau state of Nigeria. Bamshak also known as the Potato Seller on Twitter, makes the delivery to any part of the country.
I sell Irish potatoes and other vegetables straight from a farm in bokkos, plateau state. It’s cheap and affordable and I can ship to different parts of the country. Ooh and they’re are really big pic.twitter.com/vDmJr43qPz
— Potato Seller (@Bamshaq_Potato) July 21, 2018
Another example on Twitter is Katiey aka Tomato Baby who sell farm produce &livestock. Tweets on farm produce on Twitter usually go viral as they get lots of likes and retweets. Those who sell on Twitter also promote their businesses by adding what they sell to their Twitter identity, e.g. Bamshak Potato and Tomato baby.
I sell tomatoes and pepper at affordable prices, I need to raise money for my school fees and final year project.
Kindly retweet I need customers to patronise me. pic.twitter.com/VVbbCQHDzO
— Tomato baby 🍅 (@__Katiey) July 18, 2018
On Facebook, we have users like Oden Ayooluwa who markets and sells poultry and poultry products. Based in Ibadan, she tales advantage e-commerce groups on Facebook to market and sell her products. Joining and posting on as many groups as possible is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to reach a huge number of Facebook users.
Young people can take advantage of their digital skills and addiction to social media and earn a good income. They don’t need to own farms or be farmers themselves and they don’t need capital other than a phone and internet connection. With a good deal with farms or farmers, they can use social media to get consumers to buy farm produce from a farmer and get a percentage of the payment. This will give farmers access markets in faraway regions and consumers access to cheaper options. There is a need for programs to educate the youth about these Agribusiness opportunities, and equip them with digital marketing skills; more especially in the areas mainly engaged in farming.