Communications can be the driver of economic integration in Africa

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Anyone that has worked, lived or done business across multiple African territories knows only too well that economic integration across the continent will be a road with many bumps. For many currently working throughout the continent there are significant obstacles to doing business. Competing trade agreements, intra-governmental disputes, language barriers and above all securing the buy-in and support of broad and disparate stakeholders to a common agenda and set of shared rules are no small tasks. But with great challenges come great opportunities.

How are such vast barriers to be overcome? And where should we start? The answer is with a shared vision and understanding of what might be possible if such a disparate group of interests can work together towards a common goal. And that vision will be formed, shared and developed in large part by the transformative power of words and ideas.

Communications can, and must, inform the audience at which it is directed. But it can also inspire and shape behaviour. Put another way, communications can help to tackle the perception that large parts of Africa are volatile environments in which to do business by demonstrating the huge opportunities that exist across the continent. But communications can also paint a much bigger and hopeful picture, where not only is Africa a safe place for investors and global businesses, but where the entire continent is re-imagined as an integrated, thriving, dynamic global hub of commerce at the heart of a fast-paced, pulsating and above all equitable global trading system.

Yes, there are many barriers to economic growth and effective integration across Africa. Communications alone cannot solve these challenges; but it has a vital role to play. We have the privilege to work with clients operating across the continent, and it is their work that inspires us to work harder to achieve their vision. As Africa Communications Week draws to a close, let’s above all celebrate everything that is unique and fantastic about Africa and its myriad of different cultures; but let’s also make sure we work ever harder to communicate and realise the vision of Africa’s not-too-distant future.

 Nick Colwill, Associate Director 

Chris Lee