Africa Public Relations Association (APRA), a continent wide organization based in Abuja, Nigeria is planning to set up an African village at World Cup 2014 in Brazil, in partnership with the African Union (AU) and other African brands. The body is currently running an initiative under the AU dubbed Campaign Africa to try and use both mainstream media and social media campaign to prop up the Africa’s battered image.
AFKInsider interviewed the APRA’s Secretary General, Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, at the Social Media Week that is going on in Lagos Nigeria.
AFKInsider: Tell us about APRA and what its seeking to achieve?
Badejo-Okusanya: This organization was founded in 1975 in Nairobi Kenya and was then known as Federation of African Public Relation Association (FAPRA). But over the years it has metamorphosed and is now know as APRA headquartered in Abuja Nigeria, Which I’m a the secretary general. Our main thrust is that we want to use the instrumentality of our profession to serve positive Africa.
AFKInsider: What are some of the initiatives you’re working on at the moment?
Badejo-Okusanya: One of the things we have worked on is availing a new initiative with the AU called Campaign Africa. The whole Idea is to see a multi dimensional multiplatform to supporting Africa. We are going to use traditional media and a lot of social media, event and online activities to arrive at our objectives. why have we arrived on this? it is because each country in Africa speaks for its self, but who is speaking for Africa. AU has done a lot in trying to foster political integration and they are moving to building it into economic but nobody is looking at the fact that Africa is being stereo typed we are being robbed of a lot of things. At Davos a few weeks ago the co chairman of the summit, Aliko Dangote, said that Africa has lost a lot due to stereo typing.
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The other thing we are looking at is if we can have an African village at the next world cup. Because the whole world will be converging there we want people to come and visit and experience Africa away from African soil. We are talking with African union commission on this and we hope it will be actualized. We can seek partnership with other African brands, Nation and other organizations which can help us to deliver that mandate.
AFKInsider: You’ve mentioned that you are using social media to reach your audience, why is that?
Badejo-Okusanya: Social media is the future of African media. In another one or two years your web presence is going to be a lot more important than you physical presence. Secondly, as Africa we have lost the war in traditional media because it is controlled by the western powers. So we have this stereo typing of Africa, which is that Africa is a continent of war and other bad things. For us if we are going to win this battle to change the perception we need to go into another platform and I think social media has provided that platform for us. A lot of us spend time on our phones than watching television. If we can own or get a good ground on that space it will do a lot of good for us. I think social media is very critical in delivering those things for us.
AFKInsider: You have a conference coming up in May in Mauritius, what is it all about?
Badejo-Okusanya: I believe that the challenges Africa has presents an opportunity. There is nowhere else in the world that they are recording double digit growth rate in an economy except in Africa. That is why only last year when we had a conference in Ethiopia as part of the 50th anniversary of the AU we dubbed it ‘Rising Africa’ and we took that from what a magazine had said. A magazine had written before ‘Hopeless Africa’ and had to change and in the same magazine wrote ‘Rising Africa’. The theme of this conference will be ‘Advancing Africa’. This has take two meanings; that one Africa is moving ahead and two let us examine ways to take the continent forward.
AFKInsider: What do you thing is holding African companies from growing into global brands?
Badejo-Okusanya: If you look at the growth of Brands elsewhere in the world like Walmart, Micro Soft and Coca Cola. They have a platform to share a common vision and they are using that platform to share outside their domestic markets. If you look at North America as a continent, when you walk into any Walmart in country A,B or C you see the same things and design. But we as Africans have not been able to share such common passion. What are African success stories that we can talk about. The MTN’s, Ashanti Gold’s, the UBA, The Zenith Bank; have not been able to share their stories and share that affinity.