‘We are connected, but constrained’: Internet inequality and the challenges of millennials in Africa as actors in innovation

A. Victor Counted, Joyce O. Arawole

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    One of the biggest news stories in the past decade has been the increasing impact of the internet and information technology on young people, from first-generation mission countries in North America and Western Europe to the global south—particularly in Africa. This advancement has fueled the growth of a “connected” and “plugged in” cohort of young people known as millennials, who are utilizing this medium to improve their social status and create potential for economic and professional growth. However, while the Internet has created opportunities for growth and development on the continent, many online platforms and services continue to restrict full access to certain parts of the global south. Hence, in some African countries, for example, opportunities for scaling innovation and development can be very difficult to access. Consequently, as our daily activities sync with technology, concerns over access to the Internet economy and the undue restrictions over internet services persist. Using the storytelling research methodology, this paper seeks to highlight why geo-restrictions and regional lockouts over internet-related services seem to be a major challenge for millennials in Africa, who are actors in innovation by virtue of their contribution to the growth of the internet technology. We argue that this enforced regional lockout not only deflates the productivity and creativity of African millennials, but also points to a functionalist view of internet inequality constituted through the "divides" of accessibility, censored participation, and acceptability in the internet economy. Understanding the staggering nature of this problem would require telling the stories of young internet entrepreneurs and innovators in Africa, who continue to be marginalized while investing and contributing to the internet economy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number3
    JournalJournal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 16-Jan-2016


    • African millennials; Usage access; Narrative inquiry; Storytelling; Internet inequality; Digital development; Internet usage policy

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