Experts gathered by the 40-year-old Africa Public Relations
Association (APRA) say the Western world mostly focuses on negative
issues in Africa, even while there are so many positive things
happening in the continent.
Bernard Solo, lecturer at the University of Calabar in Nigeria, said
Africa's image has been painted by Western media outlets in particular
as that of a continent that is riddled with strange diseases, poor,
heavily indebted, conflict prone and ablaze in war.
"We have been [seeing] unfortunate stories on Africans drowning in the
Mediterranean, but what we don't [see] is success stories of African
flying back from Europe with PhDs, with MBA's and with Bachelor's
degrees to come back to Africa and start companies that contribute
positively to the development of GDP's of our respective economies.
Let's takeon the few positive aspects on Africa and build up that then
people will start having a different perspective of what is happening
in Africa," said Solo.
Charles Nklonzo from Day Star University in Kenya said the darkimage
of Africa is a result of many of its leaders' failures to assure
governance and accountability and to practice democracy.
He said many African leaders care more aboutmaintaining power than
attending to pressing needs of the people they are supposed toserve.
"When you look at what is happening in Africa, we have Boko Haram, in
east Africa we have al-Shabab, Mediterranean issues around there and
in the south we have the xenophobic issues. These are issues that
leaders must not sit back and assume that somehow they will fade away
tomorrow. For example in Kenya, where al-Shabab is a big issue, how
does my government work to ensure that Kenya is portrayed not just
like everywhere in Kenya is hit by al-Shabab? And the same happens in
Nigeria, the same happens in Mediterranean, even South Africa," said
Tousse, a Cameroonian-born public relations expert, said Africa is
given a horrible image because African states and organizations pay
particular attention to negative issues and neglect to communicate
positivedevelopments on the continent.
He said the Africa Public Relations Association (APRA) meeting in
Yaounde has decidedto work with governments to build a positive image
of the continent.
He said that after more than 50 years of independence for most African
states, it is high time for its people to communicate positively and
sell the image of their continent.
He said there is need for all countries, all civil society
organizations and all African enterprises to manage their reputations
by setting up image building structures managed by Africans for an
efficient practice of public relations.
Bogwa Djeroge, an APRA official in Kenya, said experts are unanimous
in believing that the reality of much of Africa is quite different
from the perceptions outsiders have, and have resolved to work with
the African Union to tell more positive stories about their continent.
"What we want to do is to come up together, telling our own story. Go
to West Africa, there are so many projects that are being initiated,
our tourism industry is booming. We have the most ambitious
infrastructure in Kenya today. If you look at our education system, it
We are sending out so many graduates and these are the stories that
we want to talk about. Stories of hope, stories of success, not
stories of despair like have beenexercised by the foreign media,"said
The International Monetary Fund predicts Africa will have the highest
rate of economic growth in the world over the next decade, and
domestic industries and foreign investors are already taking advantage
of this growth by investing in the continent.
Credit: Moki Edwin Kindzeka