• Friday, July 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

APRA creates roadmap for Africa’s economic renaissance

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The 180 participants across Africa in the recently concluded three-day first All Africa PR and Strategic Communication Summit – with the theme: The Rising Africa: The Imperative of Communication in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopia capital, organised by Africa Public Relations Association (APRA), said to ensure that Africa’s immense potential for development was fully exploited for the benefit of its citizens, barriers that hamper communication such as language, trade and inter-country movement restrictions, rigourous visa processes should be lifted.

Participants further resolved that to kick-start the continent’s economic revival African leaders in politics and business should create a realistic but more positive image of Africa. “African citizens and governments should be the ones creating and telling their stories, which is a key area of engagement for public relations practitioners and communications professionals,” they said.

The three-day event, which was formally opened by the Prime Minister of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia John Hailemariam Desalegn was followed by a keynote address delivered by the President of Ghana John Dramani Mahama, entitled: Rising Africa: The Imperative of Communication.

The event also attracted distinguished professional across Africa, and they include Erastus Mwencha, African Union Commission, deputy chairperson; Justin Green, global ambassador for APRA; Habiba Mejri-Cheikh, chairman, Public Relations Association, Gambia; Remi Aiyede, Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan, Oyo State; Chido Nwakanma, president, Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria; Tikolo Kentice, chairperson, Public Relations Society, Kenya, among several others.

According to Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, secretary-general, APRA, over 180 PR and communication professionals attended the first All Africa Public Relations and Strategic Communication Summit convened by APRA at the African Union Complex, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

He said participants were from the Gambia, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and South Africa. There was also representation from India, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

Badejo-Okusanya, who spoke on the success of the summit, said apart from removal of barriers that cause free trade across the continent, it was also agreed that a communication campaign be created for Africa, applying the key steps including research in overall continental social economic development.

He said: “We call upon the African Union Commission particularly in this endeavour to re-brand Africa and create its own platform for effective information communication and dissemination. There should be consistent training to enhance public relations practitioners’ activities, and also build relations with media houses, which can in turn reduce differences that deter communication.

The summit also resolved that in creating this desired image, public relations practitioners and communicators should utilise diverse conventional media such as sports, entertainment, export commodities and so forth.

Champions of Africa brand were urged to recognise new media of communication such as social media, because it is crucial to provide interactive platforms that enhance measurement and evaluation of communications through feedback from target audiences, while not completely discarding traditional media.

Beyond recommendations, the summit also noted the encouraging growth in the economic indices of several African countries, which affirms the notion of a rising Africa. Six out of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are found in Africa.

The current failure to tell the correct African story in its entirety and the current misrepresentation of the African story was equally spotted as a bane. Africans therefore need firstly to establish mutually binding agreements with identified global stakeholders, especially the international media, geared towards projecting a more favourable image of Africa, Badejo-Okusanya said.

The summit communiqué noted “the need for greater integration of African countries through the promotion of free movement of people, goods and services across the African continent. This will enhance understanding and bonding between and among the peoples of Africa.

“That the rise of Africa will be accelerated if we change the perception of the continent through effective communication and public relations, and the resolve of the African Union Commission to ensure that the African Union moves from being a collection of member states to a union of the African peoples and one driven by a common vision, consensus and by its citizens.”

Security concern was also spotted as drawback to the continent economic growth. The secretary-general said that security concerns across Africa were growing and often arose from a disconnect between governments and citizens, and that most of such conflicts could be resolved through effective communication and increased and improved stakeholder engagement.

The next year annual APRA PR and strategic conference moves to the Mauritius.