Brand South Africa’s South African Competitiveness Forum and the Pan-African University Dialogue overview with Dr Kobby Mensah

Brand South Africa and the University of South Africa (UNISA) successfully partnered to host the South African Competitiveness Forum (SACF) and the Pan-African University Dialogue in a two-day programme on the 11th -12th September 2018 and wrapping up the South African visit with a day-tour in and around Johannesburg and Soweto on the 13th September 2018.

The conference brought together academics, and industry representatives from South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria to provide expert input on key issues that impact the competitiveness and reputation of the Pan-African brand. Additionally, to collaborate on finding a way forward in the Pan-African Marketing and Nation Brand research in the era of the Continental Free Trade Area.

Further to this, it was important to determine inclusive solutions to the future of education in Pan-African brand marketing for students and educators across the continent.

Dr Kobby Mensah from the University of Ghana Business School, a lecturer in the fields of tourism and marketing and one of the panellist at the dialogue, unpacks the two-day programme and his contribution to the dialogue.

In a one-on-one conversation, Dr Mensah shared his key highlights on the dialogue, “There is a need for us to collaborate on a number of things, especially as academics, sharing of ideas in areas of study and collaborative research on the identity of Africa, Pan-Africa brand identity. To have a homogenous approach to building and maintaining Pan-African brand identity.”

Dr Mensah’s presentation took on the topic of Pan-African identity and some of the ideas he reflected in the presentation was that “As Africa, we are suffering from the problem of autonomous sources of information – news, documentaries and textbooks which do not reflect the truth of who we are. We need to take charge, especially in technology to promote positivity about our countries and the Pan-African identity”

As a lecturer he makes sure to challenge his students to advance in digital tourism were they share pictures of their communities, where they blog about their beautiful hidden gems, to influence the African narrative and change perception.

When asked about the possibility of a future for a Pan-African brand. Yes, he said; “I definitely see the future and there must be clarity as to what it is we want in terms of a Pan-African Brand. How do we develop a brand that can be accessed within the African space and be able to push into the world?”

Dr Mensah was amazed by the information shared by other colleagues and presentations it was “refreshing to see and hear”. This reaffirmed the imperative need for collaborative efforts and changing the principal learnings of what Nation brand is for a country and Pan-Africa.

Rounding off the intensive yet informative dialogues, delegates were treated to a tour in and around Johannesburg and lunch served in the popular Lebo’s Backpackers.

Dr Mensah encourages Africans to travel their continent and with Ghana, “travellers will be enthralled by the cultural diversity, and the colourfulness of the Ghanaian people and their kente garments”.