What is Young Africa Live in South Africa?

Piloted in South Africa since early 2023, Young Africa Live uses a WhatsApp chatbot, Facebook and Instagram to reach young people in South Africa with clear, trustworthy and engaging content to help them make informed choices to improve their sexual and mental health. Avert has been the content and social media marketing partner in the project which is led by Reach Digital Health, with investment from the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Young Africa Live is integrating with young people’s existing media consumption to maximise impact:

  • A powerful partnership with Meta, including a package of pro bono support, has harnessed the reach and engagement of Facebook and WhatsApp in South Africa and the wider African continent.
  • Young Africa Live’s channels have also been closely integrated within South Africa’s existing Department of Health sponsored B-Wise sexual health information brand.

Young Africa Live provides judgement-free private conversations and tailored support on a smart WhatsApp chatbot, and peer engagement and open discussion on Facebook and Instagram, allowing young people to benefit from the advantages of both platforms.

Avert has led content development for the chatbot across a range of issues related to sex and relationships, HIV and STIs, and mental health. We have also led on social media marketing to drive awareness and engagement with the chatbot and to promote and moderate discussions on Facebook and Instagram.

A range of visuals from Young Africa Live social media marketing
A range of visuals from Young Africa Live social media marketing

Why was Young Africa Live developed?

A new generation of young people need a new approach to engage them on issues around sexual and mental health, and help them make informed choices to improve their wellbeing.

The Young Africa Live project aims to address several challenges:

  • South Africa has over 20 million young people (15-24), but current approaches to meet their needs are struggling. Without accurate and engaging information, and appropriate tools and youth-friendly services, young people are putting themselves and their partners at risk.
  • Young people tend to be less informed about key health topics and have poorer linkages to and retention within services than their adult counterparts. They are also disproportionately impacted by HIV and STIs.
  • Relationships, sex, sexuality and mental health are topics that young people care about, but when these topics are discussed, they are often communicated in inaccurate, antiquated and often judgemental ways by moralising and unrelatable authority figures.

Young Africa Live delivers relevant, engaging sexual and mental health content to youth using a sex-positive and youth-friendly approach, encouraging positive behaviour change by empowering young people to make informed decisions.

I tried this chatbot. I'd definitely recommend it

Chatbot user

How is Young Africa Live making a difference?

There have been over 100,000 conversations started with the WhatsApp chatbot, providing young people access to trustworthy and judgement-free content, empowering them to make confidence informed decisions, and linking them to wider services.

The results of an outcome evaluation of the first phase of the project will be published by Reach Digital Health in March 2024.

Reach and engagement

conversations started on WhatsApp
Engagement icon
million engagements with social media content
Person on a mobile phone
of chatbot users are female

Photo credit: iStock/Masimba Sasa. Photos are used for illustrative purposes. They do not imply health status or behaviour.