President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged public relations practitioners under the aegis of the African Public Relations Association (APRA), to change the narrative about the continent in a bid to attract the necessary investments. The President gave the advice in his goodwill message at this year’s edition of the annual APRA conference held in Calaber, Cross River State. With the theme, ‘Leapfrogging Africa: The Role of Communication’, Buhari said Africa, no doubt, is the next frontier of global civilisation.
“With an unparalleled economic growth rate averaging five per cent across the continent; it is definitely a bride to be courted by all”. He said the negative narrative about the continent has been one key problem that shapes the perception of Africa to the outside world. “But much as Africa is confronted with primordial issues such as infrastructural development, social welfare, education, manufacturing and agriculture, these are our opportunities; though not denying the many struggles impending Africa’s progress. They are quite numerous but not insurmountable.
“Africa is often perceived as a continent of strife, war, pestilence, anarchy, corruption and massive poverty; yes, a lot of these are prevalent, but the truth is that there are a lot of good stories about Africa. Across the globe, Africa and Africans are achieving phenomenon feats in their various endeavours. It is therefore time for us to change that narrative.
It is time for us to start selling the positive Africa; one that is full of hope and for a brighter tomorrow”.
He therefore charged APRA to fashion out practical ways of changing narrative about Africa in a way as to help her fulfill her potentials especially in the area of attracting foreign investments and good balance of trade.
The five-day conference being held in Nigeria for the first time at the Calabar International Convention Centre, Cross Rivers State, Nigeria, had delegates attending from across Africa, Europe, America.
In his welcome remarks, the National President of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Dr. Rotimi Oladele, thanked the APRA council for bringing the conference to Nigeria. He also appreciated the Executive Governor of Cross Rivers State, Benedict Ayade and the people of Calabar. He specifically thanked the Secretary General of APRA Mr. Yomi Badejo-Okusanya for raising the flag of Nigeria on the continental level.
The keynote speaker at the opening day was the President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the doyen of Public Relations practice in Nigeria and former President of APRA and NIPR, Mazi Mike Okereke, who chaired the occasion.
Ayade was represented by the Cross Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Frank Tamuno. Other practitioners from global Public Rlations bodies in attendance were President, International Public Relations Association (IPRA), from Holland, Mr. Bart de Vries and President, International Communication Consultants Organisations (ICCO), from Bulgaria, Mr. Maxim Behar.