Showcasing Africa’s potential through communication

By Calvin Augustine/sites/default/files/pictures/Calvin.Augustine.JPG

The communications sector has been identified as an important conduit through which people of the continent can have access to information and are empowered to make decisions in Africa’s development.

While Africa’s potential abounds, the information divide often hampers people from taking up opportunities that have the potential to change their circumstance. Moreover, the continent’s progress is often hamstrung by nation’s operating in silos rather than through a common front. 

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), signed in February 2021, provides the continent with an opportunity to forge stronger ties and unlock Africa’s potential through the greater economic integration. 

We have already seen discussions around the upgrading of the continent’s rail and freight system. The establishment of shared supply chains and warehousing facilities has also been earmarked to further trade. 

By harnessing the strengths of all 55 nations through this common trade area, we can ensure African nations take their rightful place in the world and help uplift up to 100 million people out of poverty by 2035.

The communications sector has an important role to play in profiling the free trade area and its benefits across the continent. In building an appreciation of the AFCFTA we can develop more buy-in and ensure its faster implementation. 

Moreover, in focusing our communication initiatives on greater collaboration among African nations we can build a common approach on trade. Communications can also play a critical role in opening the conversation that helps break down the barriers to cross-border trade. 

The greater economic integration of Africa will open new opportunities and we must use communications to ensure that all citizens of the continent have equal access to these opportunities. In bridging the information gap, more people in particular young persons across Africa can be drawn into the productive sectors of the economy.

Importantly, the access to information also opens the doors of learning and creates a conducive environment for democracy to flourish. Our local communications sector is central to reflecting the larger tapestry of life experiences, cultural uniqueness and diversity that defines our nation. 

We call on communicators of our nation to support our national objectives by helping us understand each other’s past, appreciate uniqueness and recognise similarities. In honestly reflecting our society it can help us all realise that we all subscribe to the same basic set of values such as mutual respect, democracy, freedom, equality and justice. 

As part of realising our national interests and priorities, we can promote a continuous dialogue on a range of issues; such as safety, health, education, employment and rural development that our nation faces. Communicators are called to provide platforms at every possible opportunity for ordinary citizens to make their voices heard.  

The manner in which public relations specialists portray key national issues and programmes helps inform the narrative of business and corporate South Africa.  The communications industry can assist in generating stories that contribute to our development and help South Africans to make better decisions.