Phumla Williams Correspondent
We continue to see the role of media and communication as central to what we all are striving for in the continent.
We owe it to ourselves to make the continent a success story. The more we trust each other with direct investments the more we are likely to grow and attract foreign direct investments to our continent.
There is something poetic in the fact that South Africa’s presidential inauguration falls on May 25, which is also Africa Day. On this day in 1963 all independent African states set aside their differences to form an organisation then known as the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
South Africa was one of the last nations to join this organisation which then became the venue for the birth of the African Union in 2002.
In the midst of organising the presidential inauguration, Government Communication and Information Systems hosted an African Press Attachés Round Table on May 22 2019 at Tshedimosetso House, the seat of government communication.
This gathering was in line with the resolutions of the African Union Specilised Technical Committee on Communication and ICT which, amongst others, seeks to promote the work and achievements of integration and inter-continental trading as Africans.
This engagement brought together Africa’s press attachés and editors from across the African continent based in South Africa, as well as press officers under the AU banner. As we reflected on the continent’s priorities, we noted how far we have come. The dramatic rise of African member states as a significant trading bloc to our country, overtaking Europe in 2013 and on par with Asia since 2014, is a clear indication that South Africa’s prosperous future is intertwined with the continent’s future.
The economic adviser to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Ms Trudi Makhaya, illustrated how InvestSA is actively collaborating with investment promotion agencies on the continent and have signed Memoranda of Understanding with the Kenyan Investment Authority, the Uganda Investment Authority and GAFI in Egypt. The intention is to foster closer collaboration between these agencies in attracting foreign direct investments to the continent.
Our commitments to the vision of pan-Africanists including Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Sekou Toure of Guinea and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, find voice in the growing partnerships between fellow nations on the continent. The implementation of this vision is well illustrated by a series of developments across Africa.
Ms Makhaya informed us that intra-Africa investments have been growing at a compound rate of 32,5 percent. This is impressive! Africa’s rising population market of 1,2 billion people is compelling, our story of an integrated Africa with a Gross Domestic Product of more than US$3,4 trillion is remarkable.
We as African communicators ought to tell the stories, and inform our youth of the vast opportunities that are available across Africa. Knowledge is power and this was reflected in the presentation of Mr Thulani Mavuso, the Acting Director-General of Home Affairs, on innovations which promote and ensure that Africans have free movement to trade, to study and to live in South Africa. The web based e-Home Affairs system is truly easy, efficient and secure. These interventions have now improved the facilitation of people, movement and goods, making it easier for African tourists, business and academia to come to South Africa.
During the interaction discussions focussed on the important role that communicators, in partnership with the media, can play to shape perceptions of our continent. In today’s world, perception has a price. What is perceived to be real often takes on a life of its own and if we do not promote our continent, its virtues and opportunities we risk opening the door and allowing misperceptions to take hold.
As we commemorate Africa Day with President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa we should take pride in our achievements as a continent whilst bearing in mind that more needs to be done to realise the full vision of the founding fathers of the AU.
Since its formation, the African Union has strived to build a better, more united and prosperous continent.
The organisation has shifted its focus to ensure economic emancipation and socio-economic development in Africa. It currently leads the promotion of regional and market integration that will see the lowering of transport costs, enable the free movement of goods, services and people, and encourage the optimisation of resources.
We dare not rest until all who call Africa home are empowered to build a better tomorrow, free from injustice, inequality and unemployment.
The writer is Cabinet spokesperson and Acting Director of South Africa’s Government and Communication Systems