Africa’s Chief Optimist, by Wole Olaoye
Adesina is so optimistic about Africa that he has been labeled the continent’s “Chief Optimist”. What does he see that others don’t? Or rather how is African history rewritten through the instrumentation of AfDB development interventions and how can the rest of the continent adhere to its admittedly noble dream?
“Don’t judge a runner by the challenges he or she faces, or the strain on his or her legs while running, or even the grimaces on their faces; judge them at the finish line. Africa will finish its development race well, against all odds! This is the prediction of the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina.
An encouraging prediction indeed.
Last week the world marked Africa Day. The African Public Relations Association (APRA) held its annual conference virtually, in accordance with the “new standard”. APRA prides itself on creating a professional environment conducive to an accurate perception, goodwill and understanding of the necessary and effective performance of public relations practice in Africa. Its annual intellectual fiesta typically attracts stakeholders from around the world with the aim of heralding a more positively perceived and prosperous Africa.
Delegates and guests from 26 countries attended the 2021 edition.
No one else could have set the tone for the conference, but the president of the continent’s premier development finance institution, the AfDB – the same bank recently named “World’s Best Multilateral Financial Institution for 2021” by the US magazine frontline, Global finance. The theme of the conference was “One Africa! Walk towards economic integration and the role of public relations in the age of Covid-19. “
Adesina is so optimistic about Africa that he has been called the continent’s “chief optimist”. What does he see that others don’t? Or rather how is African history rewritten through the instrumentation of AfDB development interventions and how can the rest of the continent adhere to its admittedly noble dream?
The first plea launched by the President of the AfDB is that Africans must do themselves a favor: stop standing out on the continent! Some of the most negative stories shared about Africa are written by Africans themselves. While not advocating denial of verifiable reality, Adesina advocates self-love. There are many positive things about Africa, he notes, than the usual staple of wars, famine, disease and poverty.
Among the PR practitioners who made up the bulk of the audience were champions in branding, messaging and reputation management. They couldn’t agree more with Adesina that if you don’t say ‘I am’ the rest of the world doesn’t have to recognize ‘you are’.
“We need you as public relations and media partners to help organize and disseminate these successes. Success stories of Africa’s progress on its path to actualizing the Africa We Want as outlined in the African Union’s Agenda 2063! Your role is essential to ensure that people are inspired by the gains made on Africa’s path to prosperity, ”said Adesina.
Due to the crucial role PR professionals can play in transforming the continent, AfDB now plans to initiate a new strategic partnership with the African Public Relations Association to help weave a beautiful tapestry of stories. resilience of a continent progressing against all. chances!
He gave examples of the impact of the work of the African Development Bank on the lives of ordinary people. Ms. Jamila from Ghana benefited from access to improved agricultural technologies through the AfDB’s Savannah Agricultural Productivity Project. His testimony: “The Bank’s program allowed me to increase my cultivated area by 9,000%. Now I am going to buy a mechanized combine for my crops ”. From Ethiopia, one of the farmers said, “I built my house with the produce from my farm and now I can support my four children in school,” while Ms. Grace from Kenya noted that the Bank support enabled him to access electricity in his village: “We were once in the dark, now we can see”.
Adesina argues that there is no continent without its own problems and that anyone with an eye on the future cannot ignore Africa. Due to the crucial role PR professionals can play in transforming the continent, AfDB now plans to initiate a new strategic partnership with the African Public Relations Association to help weave a beautiful tapestry of stories. resilience of a continent progressing against all. chances!
COVID-19 has ravaged the world. In Africa, 30 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty. An additional $ 39 million is predicted to sink further into extreme poverty this year. Foreign direct investment in Africa increased from $ 45 billion in 2019 to $ 27 billion in 2020. Similarly, portfolio investment increased from $ 27 billion in 2019 to $ 19 billion in 2020.
In response, the AfDB announced a $ 10 billion Crisis Response Mechanism to help African countries cope with the urgent health and economic effects of the pandemic and provided another $ 28 million grant to the African Center for Africa. disease control to strengthen its ability to fight the scourge.
Before COVID, Africa had the second fastest rate of economic growth in the world. Foreign direct investment has grown faster in Africa than anywhere else. Africa was also reforming its business environment. With the advent of COVID, GDP growth declined 2.1%, the worst in over 25 years. It should be noted, however, that 13 African countries posted positive growth rates amid the global recession. A cocktail of new challenges has since emerged, but Adesina believes Africa will bounce back. “The AfDB estimates that the continent’s GDP growth will rebound towards a positive trajectory of 3.4% this year,” he said.
To show what can be achieved if words are combined with action, the AfDB has, over the past five years, had a positive impact on the lives of 335 million people: 20 million people have had access to ‘electricity; 74 million people gained access to agricultural technologies for food security; 10 million people gained access to finance; 69 million people gained access to improved transport services through investments in infrastructure; and 43 million people gained access to improved water and sanitation.
For PR practitioners across the continent, the APRA 2021 conference reinforced the appeal to all professionals to protect and enhance the African brand. AfDB’s achievements in Africa are a good indicator of the continent’s limitless possibilities. And who can tell this story better than those gathered at the annual Ideas Party?
And the landscape is changing, thanks to forward-looking projects that should propel trade and improve life across the continent: the historic Séné-Gambia Bridge connecting Senegal and The Gambia, the expansion of Togo’s container port. , which has tripled its capacity; the Kazungula Bridge, connecting Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia; the 1,000-kilometer highway from Addis Ababa to Mombasa, via Nairobi; the Noor Ouarzazarte project in Morocco (the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world); and the Lake Turkana Wind Power Plant in Kenya, the largest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Bank is currently investing in the Desert to Power initiative in the Sahel region to build the world’s largest solar zone, which will provide electricity to 250 million people in eleven countries. Accelerating industrialization could create up to 14 million stable jobs over the next decade. The AfDB is also supporting 234,000 young people with digital skills to make them competitive in the digital world and create nine million jobs. At the next African Investment Forum, the AfDB and its partners have already prepared to present a pipeline of 230 projects worth $ 208 billion.
In view of all of the above, there is reason to be optimistic if – and only if – the serious security challenges affecting various parts of the continent are urgently addressed.
For PR practitioners across the continent, the APRA 2021 conference reinforced the appeal to all professionals to protect and enhance the African brand. AfDB’s achievements in Africa are a good indicator of the continent’s limitless possibilities. And who can tell this story better than those gathered at the annual Ideas Party? Several other insightful articles featured during the three-day virtual event reinforced the theme “One Africa!” March towards economic integration and the role of public relations ”. And the worthy finale: the Saber Awards Africa 2021, in which the best practitioners in the profession on the continent were presented with awards in different categories by the inimitable global public relations icon, Paul Holmes.
If the conference were an oracle, its verdict would be that Africa is the new frontier of prosperity, as long as the cobwebs of insecurity that entangle the continent are erased.
APRA President Yomi Badejo-Okusanya from Nigeria summed up the sentiments of his colleagues across the continent: “Africa must tell its own story. And there is no better person to tell it than the authentic storyteller of the continent: the African PR practitioner!
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