Digital Africa – From Youth Movements to Government Bans

ABSTRACT: The number of digital users in Africa has been on a steady rise and the numbers are predicted to spike even further by 2025. Young people across the continent are employing digital media in many aspects of their lives. Crucially, the movements spurred by young people offer a deep insight into social political issues, with their message spiking awareness through digital media to offline protests. The issues which these youth-mediated movements have championed have been amplified by mainstream media, leading to public debates and agenda setting in their countries. As a result, governments across the continent are embarrassed and have sought to tighten control on online freedom of expression. These African countries have resorted to switching off or throttling the internet, spying on their citizens online, and generally enacting legislations that tamper with digital rights. These tactics by officialdom are especially pronounced during tense political moments like elections, protests and pandemics. This paper argues that official high handedness is unlikely to rein in an enterprising and digitally savvy African young population

Keywords: Digital media, African youths, African governments, freedom of expression, social movements

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