Liquid Telecom has released a report on the African Generation Z. The report calls the generation the one that will "define Africa’s digital future." Generation Z is the group born between 1995 and the early 2000s.
The report focuses on the opportunities and challenges awaiting the digital native generation. "The African Generation Z Report 2018 takes an in-depth look at how Gen Z could shape business and innovation in Africa in the years to come," the report says.
It gives an explanation of how Generation Z "will consume digital services to analysing what new digital skills will be critical in the not-so-distant future".
Generation Z, often called the Digital Natives, are the only generation to have grown up with the internet. This has made the internet not just a part of their life - but their life.
When asked to comment about technology, 21-year-Old Gift from Johannesburg said; "Technology is almost everything to almost everyone, these days."
Also read: 6 key reports that’ll give you a snapshot of the African startup and tech ecosystem
He is not alone. Dominique, 22 years from Johannesburg, South Africa also said the same thing. "Technology plays a big role in my life. You use it for everything these days, you can’t leave home without your phone, or some kind of device. Even just to wake up in the morning, you need your alarm," says Dominique.
Apart from that, the internet presents a huge opportunity for the generation. From pursuing careers to starting up businesses, the generation has so far tried to make the best of their digital native status.
Amadou Daffe, CEO and Co-Founder of Gebeya, says that "Africa has been playing catch-up with the world when it comes to traditional industries." Yet, "software development and technology offers the lowest barrier of entry for Africa to compete - all you need is a laptop, a brain and Wi-Fi."
Generation Z, together with Millenials have been accused of impatience and independence by the older generations. But, thanks to impatience and the love for independence, the generation is exploring unconventional careers especially technology related.
"This generation is impatient and dynamic, they adapt to change easily,” said Oswald Jumira, Head of Innovation Partnerships, Liquid Telecom.
They are also looking to tread in waters deeper than the previous generations. "Firstly [sic], they are good at thinking across borders," says Nkosi Ncube, Head of Application Lab at i2i. Adding that "the entrepreneurs [that came] before [them] used to think within their own borders, but this generation thinks big ."
Despite all the opportunities, the report warns and highlights the key challenges they must overcome. "Approximately 20% of Africa’s population is aged between 15 and 24, marking the region as the youngest in the world," part of the report read.
"This age group, however, are hit the hardest when it comes unemployment and underemployment."
With the internet eliminating borders and becoming their life, the group also has to deal with another critical issue; loss of identity and the struggle to fit into a life dictated by the internet.
"Technology adds so much extra pressure and stress to everyday life and can help to make all new insecurities or encourage the old ones to get worse," noted 21-year-old Lindwire from Johannesburg, South Africa.
Though Generation Z are called digital natives, the report indicates that not all are. Millions have not had the opportunity to grow up with the internet like their counterparts in the developed world. Noting that "Africa’s Gen Z is a disparate group".
"While the developed world’s Gen Z has typically grown up in a digital environment, millions of youth across Africa have yet to experience the basics such as reliable electricity, adequate sanitation, dependable education and digital technology."
With an internet penetration that's far below the global average, millions of Generation Z can't afford to call themselves digital natives. "In Africa, where the average internet penetration is around 21%, the average penetration among youths aged 15-24 is around 40%," the report says.
Adding that, "therefore one of the key differentiators between Millennials and Gen Z – growing up as a ‘digital native’ – does not apply to millions of African youth."