Potential of Africa and communicators’ role in presenting a balanced image of the continent
Every continent has potentials. Africa is no exception as it is noted for its rich culture, minerals, tourism and agriculture. However, among the seven continents of the world, the African continent seems to be the most maligned. Often, international media representation of the continent seems to focus on disaster or catastrophe, and conflicts, which present a dark image of the continent.
Though challenges exist, the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) define what we need to focus attention on, as far as development is concerned from 2015-2030. Misrepresentation of Africa leaves one to wonder if the continent really has anything good to offer the world.
It is important to state that, Africa is not a small village, neither is it a country, but a continent with about 54 different countries, contributing their quota to global economic development. The continent is endowed with rich natural resources including oil and gas, diamond, gold, copper and timber.
The African continent is said to be one of the fastest growing economies, offering investment opportunities. Bookings indicates that 20 economies are expanding at an average rate of 5%, faster than the 3.6% rate for the global economy.
Sub Saharan Africa has some of the continent’s fastest growing economies – Top 10 countries
The economy of most countries in Sub Saharan Africa is driven by the industry sector, especially oil, gas and mining. There has also been massive development in key sectors like ICT, tourism and agriculture, which is improving economic growth in many of these top 10 countries.
One may ask why development efforts are not yielding much results. The issue, I may say, has to do with sustainability. Development efforts should integrate capacity strengthening in projects, to empower citizens and help in building strong institutions for success replication.
That notwithstanding, developments across the continent need to be showcased to drive more investments to key sectors to accelerate growth. The focus is for Africa to change its narratives internally & externally. Internally, the starting point is for us as citizens to change our attitudes and positive change is also required from our governments. This way, the story will begin to change externally.
Communicators’ role in telling the African success stories
There is a nexus between communications and development, as effective communications draw attention to issues, propel behavioral change, and help attract investments for development works.
As communicators, we have a critical role to play in changing the African story from a continent with no hope to a continent with rich culture, and one that presents huge opportunities for the global economy. In communications ethics, stories must always be balanced by presenting all sides. Showcasing successes and not always dwelling so much on the challenges will bring benefits to the continent.
Africa is the world’s youngest continent, with about 60% of its population under 25 years old. So, digital media can be leveraged to change the continent’s narrative. In other words, communicators can:
- use social media to showcase Africa’s success stories;
- mobilize and collaborate with civil society organizations to demand attitudinal change from citizens and governments, as a step towards ensuring positive behavioral change internally;
- sell the African culture by producing documentaries or airing movies and festivals on different media platforms; and
- hold campaigns to promote best practices to drive change.
Undeniably, communications thus positively influence development. We must tell our own stories. Let us use our local media to start changing the African narratives internally and more of digital media to present positive sides of our continent to the world. This is not to say we are not making the efforts. We must continue, lead by example and do more. Commitment, dedication and sacrifice to do what is right and setting the pace is crucial.
The idea is not to be communicating only positive stories but rather disabuse ideologies or previously set agenda. It is indeed possible if we unite as one with this common goal and leverage more on the power of technology to present our continent in a positive light. This I believe, will go a long way to project a desirable image of our dear continent, Africa.
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