Brand South Africa and the Department of Trade and Industry discuss how to change the continental narrative

Pretoria, Thursday 27 March 2014 – Brand South Africa and the Department of Trade and Industry today hosted a seminar with African diplomats based in South Africa on, amongst others, how to change the continental narrative to one that is reflective of the enormous potential that lies within the continent.

The panel leading the discussion included Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola,the High Commissioner of Kenya Mr Wamoto, the Nigerian Minister Counsellor responsible for economic affairs, Mr Oguntuase and Ms Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter from the Department of Trade and Industry.  Representatives from 17 African Embassies and High Commissions,  and representatives from the Departments of International Relations and Co-operation, Trade and Industry and Tourism, participated in today’s discussion at the CSIR in Pretoria.

The High Commissioner of Kenya made the critical point that Africa must invest in its human capital to ensure we are able to tell our own stories and communicate our own value proposition.  Africa should also be developing its own human capital including analysts and academics so that we can own the process of communicating our own narrative. Our story has been told for too long by parties outside of the continent.  “The task of building the continent’s reputation cannot be left solely to branding agencies.  It is the collective responsibility of each citizen of the continent.  At the same time, we as leaders in our various countries have invested a lot of time and resources in communicating with audiences beyond Africa. It is time we focused on communicating with the citizens of Africa to enable a shared patriotism and loyalty that will go a long way towards building our reputation, and resources,” said Mr Wamoto.

Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola reminded the delegates that reputation is not about what we say, but we do.  “We therefore need to ensure that our words match what we are doing, as individual countries and the continent as a whole, to build our reputation and manage perceptions.”

The robust discussion also included areas of challenge in the continent that are currently being addressed at various levels to ensure that Africa realises its potential as the fastest growing region.  This includes intra-continental trade, market access, cost of trading within the continent.  Ms Mlumbi-Peter emphasized that while much remains to be done, work has commenced on building regional value chains through which many of these areas will be addressed.  “We also need to move from the perception that Africa can only be a source of goods to one where we can also provide services which talks to the creation of a knowledge economy.  Progress has been made in various regional economic communities in the Continent but this must be consolidated and strenghtened to ensure Africa can achieve its potential.”

Mr Oguntuase of Nigeria said that, “Although Africa continues to grapple with the social challenges of food, energy and water insecurity, for the first time, we have a continental strategic plan – Vision 2063 – which gives us in Africa much cause for optimism about the direction of our continent.  However, we must all participate in making this plan a reality.”

The panellists and delegates appealed to all citizens of the continent to play their part in Africa’s regeneration and renewal.  These are exciting times for the continent and we can all be a part of these developments which will ultimately result in our improved reputation and competitiveness.

Note to Editors

About Brand South Africa

Brand South Africa is the official marketing agency of South Africa, with a mandate to build the country’s brand reputation, in order to improve its global competitiveness. Its aim is also to build pride and patriotism among South Africans, in order to contribute to social cohesion and nation brand ambassadorship.

About Play Your Part

Play Your Part is a nationwide campaign created to inspire, empower and celebrate active citizenship in South Africa.  It aims to lift the spirit of our nation by inspiring all South Africans to contribute to positive change, become involved and start doing – because a nation of people who care deeply for one another and the environment in which they live is good for everyone.

Play Your Part is aimed at all South Africans – from corporates to individuals, NGOs to government, churches to schools, young to not so young.  It aims to encourage South Africans to use some of their time, money, skills or goods to contribute to a better future for all.

There are numerous opportunities, big and small, for each and every South African to make a positive difference in the communities in which they live and operate. Play Your Part encourages them to act on these opportunities.

The campaign is driven by the Brand South Africa.

Further resources from Brand South Africa

Media are invited to visit http://www.southafrica.info/ for further resources which can be reproduced without any copyright infringement.  Kindly attribute to Brand SouthAfrica.

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact: 

Sandisiwe Gugushe

Public Relations International: Brand South Africa

Tel: +27 11 712 5007 Mobile: +27 (0) 73 126 9128

Email: sandisiweg@brandsouthafrica.com

Visit www.brandsouthafrica.com