Communicators invited to focus on African issues

Communicators across Africa have an important duty to convey the message of a continent of hope, promise and vast potential.

This is according to the Director General of the Government Communications and Information System (GCIS), Phumla Williams, who opened Africa Communications Week 2022 on Monday.

Africa Communications Week is a week-long series of events in 20 countries across Africa. It started today under the theme: “Ahead of the Curve: What’s Next for Comms in Africa?”.

Speaking to fellow communicators across the continent, Williams said as they preached the message of hope that they can ensure that Africa regains its rightful place in the world.

“It starts with us working together as communications professionals to change the narrative of our continent. The coverage of disasters, famine, terrorism and corruption alone has created a distorted view of Africa.

“It has left the impression to many that the continent is reeling from one crisis to another and it has a huge impact on the development of the continent and its people,” Williams said.

She emphasized that the role of communicators is to find ways to shift Africa’s narrative to one of hope.

The Director General added that there are exciting developments on the continent that need to be communicated to citizens and the world.

“More people need to know that Africa is working hard to improve its manufacturing capacities for vaccines and medical supplies.

“Earlier this year, we saw NantAfrica, a division of global entrepreneur Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong’s Nantworks, launch state-of-the-art medical infrastructure to accelerate domestic production of pharmaceuticals, biologics and vaccines that will reach users on the whole African continent,” she said.

It is the largest genomics facility on the African continent and a milestone in the development of cutting-edge healthcare on the continent. “It places Africa at the forefront of genome research and strengthens the continent’s public health response to epidemics and pandemics,” she said.

The Director General urged communicators to focus on more proactive communication on African issues.

She said this will result in reclaiming the communication space on key issues facing the continent and is an opportunity to reframe how Africa moves forward in a post-COVID-19 environment.

“We have seen that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, African countries have maintained their spending on infrastructure projects and it is these stories that we need to actively share. According to the Deloitte African Construction Trends 2021 Outlook report, there have been an increase in the number of infrastructure projects by a fifth compared to 2020, she said.

Williams further advocated for communication of Africa’s changing landscape represented by the 462 infrastructure projects on the continent valued at $521 billion.

Discussing a number of projects across the continent, Williams said the highest number of projects were in the transport sector with 197 projects, the energy sector recorded 88 projects while there were 85 projects in the real estate sector.

“African governments owned 73.8% of the projects and they were the main funders at 31.8%. South Africa has registered 37 projects valued at $54.7 billion. project,” she said.

Through communication, she said, they can support the continent’s recovery efforts by profiling interventions and providing regular updates that help shape the narrative for Africa.

Economically, African nations have a chance to build back better by leveraging advances in green and low-carbon energy in pursuit of its growth goals.

Williams said the African Continental Free Trade Area presents huge opportunities and the recent adoption of the AfCFTA rules of origin covering 87% of goods on African Union member states’ tariff lines is a historic breakthrough that demonstrates the commitment to dramatically increase intra-African trade. .

“We must present a common front to promote Agenda 2063, which is Africa’s strategic roadmap to bring us to a free, secure and fully developed continent.”

She said that Agenda 2063 is underpinned by the AU’s vision to build an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa that is a dynamic force in the international arena.

It reflects the aspirations of Africa as a continent with a strong cultural identity, values ​​and ethics.

“In support of Agenda 2063, we can foster unity among all Africans across the continent. Future growth will be spurred by the continent’s commitment to Agenda 2063 to drive the social, economic and political renewal of Africa,” she said.

Key lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic

Amid the devastation wrought by COVID-19, Williams said communicators have learned key lessons.

The pandemic has demonstrated the power and value of effective communication.

“Communication has become an essential tool to combat the spread of the virus and later to support citizen participation in vaccination against serious illnesses and deaths from COVID-19,” she said.

Communicators have the opportunity to build on lessons learned about how communications have met the enormity of the challenges posed by COVID-19.

This is particularly in light of the speed at which the pandemic is evolving; the spread of misinformation and the use of technology to ensure effective communication.

In South Africa, communications have been instrumental in keeping South Africans abreast of critical developments in the fight against the virus, reassuring citizens at the height of the crisis and effecting behavioral change.

She added that the country’s transition to the digital and virtual world through national portals, mobile apps and social media has ensured widespread dissemination of information to those with internet access.

“The pandemic has not only tested our country’s resolve, but also the robustness of our communications system. I am proud to say that our country’s communication systems have risen to the challenge.

“In doing so, we have gained valuable experience and seen firsthand what we can achieve as communicators. We have seen key stakeholders and communicators come together under the National Communications Partnership led by the System of government communication and information.

“The spirit of volunteerism throughout this period was unparalleled and should be harnessed once again by us as communicators to propel Africa forward,” she said.

(With contributions from the South African government press release)

About Marjorie C. Hudson

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