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Innovation, ideas and big dreams: DW Africa's youth show brings the most inspiring stories from the African continent. At the same time, the format dares to tackle difficult issues that concern Africa's youth.
One hundred episodes, 100 times Africa in all its facets. "The 77 Percent" TV magazine of DW's Africa program has reached a milestone. Since April 2019 the format has been broadcast every two weeks, and now even on a weekly basis. The protagonists: young Africans with unique stories, innovative ideas and plans for big changes — for their countries and the continent.
Seventy-seven percent of Africa's population is under the age of 35, according to Worldometer. While African presidents are on average 62 years old, the average age in Africa is 19.7 years. The issues young people see themselves confronted with are pressing: poverty, limited access to education, unemployment, globalization, security challenges, extremism, sexual violence, corruption and forced migration. But what is more important is that African youths also have opinions, ideas and solutions. What they need is a voice to make themselves heard. That is what "The 77 Percent" wants to provide.
Young, innovative, colorful and critical – The 77 Percent show is "the home for Africa's youth," a format that offers the young African population an opportunity to work on moving the continent forward. In doing so, the show's goal is to offer constructive solutions on the question "How does Africa's young majority envision their own and their continent's future?"
"We show protagonists who bring about concrete change on the ground. In doing so, we want to encourage Africans to follow suit in their communities," says Johan von Mirbach, co-coordinator of the show.
The project portrays a young, self-confident and self-determined generation of Africans who want to take their future into their own hands — independent of old political elites or Western donors. Among them are young activists, politicians, influencers and changemakers.
Ghana, Kenya, South Africa or even the Democratic Republic of Congo — The 77 Percent traverses the entire continent, bringing stories just as diverse as their protagonists.
"There is a takeaway from each and every show," says Wanjiku Mwaura, one of the hosts of the show. "We cover very interesting, inspirational stories, we play music from the continent at the end of every show. The highlight really is that you get something from every report: to be challenged or inspired to think differently, or trying a sport like dirt biking."
Being close to the audience is a key factor of the show. "We have pan-African topics. Our idea is: produce local, think pan-Africa," says Gwendolin Hilse-Lardner, co-coordinator of the show.
"So we show problems with which youngsters across the continent can identify. Our young and energetic protagonists don't just show problems, but are also seeking for solutions. These protagonists in our reports are changemakers in their own communities and role models for other Africans across the continent."
The provocative and controversial centerpiece of "The 77 Percent" are the Street Debates. Here, DW hosts Edith Kimani and Christine Mhundwa bring together young opinionated people to discuss issues relevant to the show's target audience. And these players don't normally meet: they are politicians, artists, activists, victims and perpetrators, or just the young man or woman from next door.
The topics of the debates vary, from police brutality over growing up in a conflict zone to the meaning of modern masculinity and decolonizing beauty standards. While issues are discussed with all their aspects, the Street Debates aim to end on a constructive note, with all panelists seeking solutions through discussion.
The 77 Percent impresses with its diversity of reports. The contributions range from a young Maasai woman who, against the traditions of her ethnic group, stands up against genital mutilation, to a young banker in the Ivory Coast who produces fairly traded chocolate, to the "School of Husbands" where husbands in Sierra Leone learn how to become better partners to their wives.
Kenyan health and relationship expert KAZ addresses questions from users on topics such as dating in the age of social distancing, genital mutilation and homosexuality. In "My City" reports, famous residents guide through their cities, in the "Rap-Up" segment, well-known and up-and-coming rappers address explosive and controversial topics such as corruption, sexualized violence and Africanism in the form of a rap song.
The mini-series "Homecoming" focuses on strong women with African roots who grew up in the diaspora but found their way back to the African continent to build a life and a business. And for the "Pin-Wheel" format, 77 correspondents from Africa deliver a kaleidoscope of regional facts on pan-African relevant topics such as climate change. Never missing are studio guests who elaborate on problems on the African continent with the presenters and work out solutions together.
The 77 Percent is also on social media. On Instagram, The 77 Percent channel is one of DW's "youngest" accounts.
"The 77 Percent has grown from the ground up," recalls Claus Stäcker, program director for Africa. "Young people across sub-Saharan Africa embraced DW's social media channels to discuss their issues. We built on that, first on Facebook, then as social radio, on Instagram, YouTube and on TV, in different languages. It works as a whole — that's our biggest success."
"The 77 Percent gives Africa's young majority a platform, a voice and a permanent address for a honest and blunt dialog like no other international broadcaster," wrote one social media user about the show.
Behind the success of the format are also DW's 35 partners on the continent. "Seeing something of themselves in the posts each week has helped our northern Nigerian, Hausa-speaking youth feel connected to the energy and creativity that is literally exploding across the continent," says Jacob Arback, managing director of AREWA24, DW's partner in Nigeria.
In collaboration with its partners, the TV format is produced in four languages (Amharic, English, Hausa and Portuguese).
And there's more planned: A The 77 Percent podcast is in the making, together with a South African partner. Because even if The 77 Percent TV Magazine has reached its 100th episode, it's only the beginning of its journey.
The 77 Percent is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.
Edited by: Benita van Eyssen