‘Africa Unite’ was the chant heard at the closing ceremony of the 26th African Public Relations Association (APRA) conference which took place in Mauritius over three days at the Le Meridien hotel to culminate on May 30, 2014.

APRA’s General Secretary Yomi Badejo-Okusanya thanked all those who were present and expressed his gratitude to the Mauritians for their warm hospitality.

Further to its meeting, the APRA executive council noted the efforts in trying to get the continent to evolve and various challenges faced in the process, like inadequate funding, need for greater commitment from association members, and infrequent activities.

Accordingly, the decision arrived at is to find alternative sources of funding, for national associations to be founded as APRA cannot, by itself, execute all activities across the continent, for members to renew their commitment and come forward with their views, and for training to be provided by authorities in taxation matters across Africa.

Furthermore it was noted that there should be regional meetings and members should not rely only on the annual meeting to take the APRA agenda forward.

For this purpose, various working groups will be organized to aid the executive council such as capacity working groups, APRA Pyramid Award, Southern African contact group, Northern African contact group, and Eastern African contact group.

APRA, with support from African Union Commission (AUC) and other relevant organisations, will immediately embark on the development of a comprehensive programme of action to position Africa as a rising continent to rectify its negative image, a team of professional communication experts from the continent will draw the road map for implementing Campaign Africa, and APRA will put all-out efforts to deepen its knowledge from a corporate governance perspective.

For Robyn de Villiers, Chairman and CEO Africa of global public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller, this three day conference was an opportunity to gain knowledge which can be applied across clients.

“The conference was well attended and organized, with good quality speakers. The focus on corporate governance was an important takeaway as well as the sponsorship of sports events, as sports activities can be used to unite various African countries,” Robyn de Villiers told AfricaMoney.

For Muyiwa Afolabi, Group CEO of Frontier International Services, the main actionable insight from the conference was that Africans must review ethnicity and tradition, and start looking at issues and ideologies from the perspective of outcomes to enhance growth.

“As a social reformer, my task is to improve the lifestyle of the common man, improve their social economic disposition and ensure a better quality of life for them in terms of education, health care, interaction, and happiness,” he told AfricaMoney.

For Mauritian communication experts who were present during the APRA conference, the summit provided a golden opportunity not only to acquire more knowledge but also to enlarge their network in order to facilitate their entry on the African Market.

“The conference was interesting but Francophone Africa was not represented and I think this will be done in the next edition, since this was only the first conference to be held in Mauritius. Omnicane has many projects of expansion across Africa and this conference allowed me to network with our African colleagues,” stated Enrico Chadien, internal news editor and events coordinator at Mauritius sugar major Omnicane.

Ornella Arokeum, PR Manager at Lux* Island Resorts, told AfricaMoney that she gained valuable insights into the African leadership style and people’s efforts to take their countries to a higher threshold of development.

“It is an advantage for Mauritius to be chosen by APRA as destination. There was a lot of exchange. For the future, it will be good to have the Mauritian government and associations participate, even if only for the first day, to see what is happening and how there can be greater collaboration between Mauritius and the rest of Africa,” she stated.

Peter Mutie, APRA President, told AfricaMoney that this was a great year for APRA as they have gained endorsement from the AUC, and their next step is to take forward Campaign Africa to brand a new face for the continent.

“APRA has prompted the continent to use communication as a vital tool to correct the image of Africa. Campaign Africa will project what is happening in the continent and rectify the negative impression that has been given of only war, starvation, and disease,” he stated.

He concluded on the note that Africa is also about growth stories: two digit economic growth and the immense potential of the African people.

By Marie-Lorry Coret and Cecilia Samoisi

(Image: Cecilia Samoisi/ AfricaMoney): APRA, with support from African Union Commission (AUC) and other relevant organisations, will immediately embark on the development of a comprehensive programme of action to position Africa as a rising continent.

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