Posted by: beninmwangi | April 26, 2007

Walking Down the Path…the African Business Destination!

This is actually our first post in this series highlighting the writing of another blogger for this look at African Business in the Media. We are talking about Joshua Wanyama of African Path, and if you haven’t done so lately, it might do you well to stroll down the Path too.

Here is an excerpt from Joshua’s post that echo my sentiments 100%. Of particular interest to me was the ideal role that he envisions African governments playing in order to expand Africa’s image as a serious business destination.

Here’s Joshua:

“…It is good when we start having positive stories on Africa and doing business in the continent appearing in the mainstream media in the west. One of the questions on my mind is; does Africa need a PR agency to handle her image and perceptions of business on the continent?

African governments, business leaders and other interested parties need to have greater involvement in crafting the continent’s image. Some countries have been working steadfastly at building better images of who they are and what they represent such as South Africa’s “Proudly South African”

How then should African countries proceed in building names that attracts foreign investments, creates tourism and trading opportunities? If governments are there to facilitate trade, then it becomes imperative that they learn to start building country brands and positioning themselves as ideal destinations. Ultimately, we have to tell our own stories but do so effectively. Or else we will become what Nworah calls Nigeria “The self-styled giant of Africa” who has been dwarfed by its reputation of corruption, poor leadership, and dependence on oil, unemployment, poor infrastructural development and many other ills.

Until a government actually works to solve its internal problems that repel visitors, then its branding will be for naught. A beautifully painted image hiding social ills that would become even greater PR nightmares…”

Many of times I have asked myself the same questions that Joshua has asked, does Africa need both some serious re-branding and a top notch PR agency…My conclusion was similar, that the best pr that a business or region can get is good word of mouth. The best wayto do this is to be certain that the reality and the public relations messages that you are putting out there really match up. All this means is that as nations strive to reinvent their images that the questions that they may want to ask themselves should be:

  1. Are we getting in the way of our entrepreneurs or do we make it easy for them to conduct business?
  2. Are we truly embracing an atmosphere of market liberalization, through allowing total transparency, and allowing a liberal press that is free to make constructive criticisms?
  3. Have we found ways to minimize red tape for both domestic and foreign investors?
  4. Are our policies and laws on duties, imports, and customs clearly and simply communicated?
  5. And what have we done to eliminate or minimize the informal and hidden money trails?

Those are just a few, but fortunately from what I have seen their are some African nations which have taken this type of aggressive self-examining and perhaps within a short span of time the Botswana’s, the Kenya’s, the Ghana’s, the Mauritius’s, and etc. of the continent will have names that precede them in the international business community, of course this only holds true so long as they stay on the path 🙂 .

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Responses

  1. Yes Africa needs rebranding, a market based unique form of rebrading. But you see Benin, there is a huge problem to Africa’s rebranding since its all in the eyes of “other” people. For instance, just yesterday Kenya accepted that China does some of its major roads in return for “something ” am afraid no one knows except the deak makers!
    The roads are Chinesse, coz definately its their vested interest.
    In such a case, how will Kenya Brand itself when it can not even OWN its own country?
    read more from my blog.
    Branded

  2. Rebranding in the US would be good to see. I’ll be honest, when I picture Africa, I think of the wildlife and poverty in the country. It may sound funny, but that’s all we see here in the States. While I’m sure aid is needed, there needs to be a movement to get away from that image. I know there is more to the country and it’s going to take a lot of work and money to show Americans that Africa is a viable place to do business.

    One of the best ways to do that is to show people the money. We live in a capitalistic society and sadly that’s what will get our attention. If the countries in Africa can do that, then the perception will change and the business will come.

  3. Rebranding of the viable economies of Africa that suffured from the fabricated ( some truth to it) and marketed image of the hopeless,blood thirsty,aids ridden Africa ( as if a nation) must start at the individual level, who better to market Africa’s market than the African consumer investor. Buy a vacation house in Cap verde,Mauritius,Mozambique,Cameroon,South Africa. Go trekking,swimming,yatching,surfing in Madagascar,Senegal,Kenya Ivory Coast.
    Invest in the stock market,real estate and share to your non African friends/coworkers the information of the good returns you gaining from your diversified portfolio. ( that is for African living abroad)
    For Africans living home, the rebranding begins with domestic consumption and imports from other african countries. Let’s consume the best goods/services our individual markets have to offer it will send a strong signal to domestic and foreign capitalists alike.
    In terms of communication we need to have a more savy and stronger business media communicating relevant information througout Africa and abroad.
    They should embrace new technologies, social networks,blogs,videosharing,Viral campaigns,podcasts , Text messaging,cellphone TV.

    That is all I have to share now.
    Thank you
    http://africaincorp.blogspot.com

  4. Mr. Tape:

    “In terms of communication we need to have a more savy and stronger business media communicating relevant information througout Africa and abroad.
    They should embrace new technologies, social networks,blogs,videosharing,Viral campaigns,podcasts , Text messaging,cellphone TV.”

    Yes, these media are great at conveying the message. But I would say that chanhging an image that has been created, as you say over several centuries, will take some time. Fortunately, some media (like yours, africaincorp.blogspot.com)are already beginning to make some ripples in the lake. I think that this is a breakthrough.

    Thanks for your contribution!


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