The Public Relations (PR) profession in Africa ascended onto a new pedestal on the continent when the African Union (AU) gave it a formal recognition, according it a partnership status and teamed up with the Ethiopian Government to sponsor its first All African Public Relations and Strategic Communication Summit which opened in the ancient city of Addis Ababa on May 8, 2013.
Over the three-day period from May 8-10, 2013, PR and Communication experts from all over Africa and beyond gathered at the ultra-modern African Union Conference Complex with the sole aim of “setting the much needed agenda for positioning Africa in the milieu”.
The theme for the summit was “Rising Africa: The Imperative of Communication”.
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President John Dramani Mahama, a major player in the PR and Communication industry, whose speech was read on his behalf by the Minister of Information and Media Relations, Mr Mahama Ayariga, urged African PR and Communication practitioners to help African governments maintain sustainable developments through strategic communication of the positive things happening on the continent today.
President Mahama identified communication as one of the key drivers of this new development agenda.
The Secretary-General of the African Public Relations Association (APRA), Mr Yomi Badejo-Okusanya of Nigeria, stated that the recognition could not have come at a more auspicious time than this year when the African Union is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
He said APRA’s key objectives were to strengthen the practice of public relations as a profession in Africa and to sell Africa positively through the instrumentality of Public Relations Profession.
Of great concern to APRA, he said, was the fact that Africa lacked a strong voice to speak positively for her and bemoaned the fact that South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Somalia, Kenya, Ghana, The Sudan and all other speak for themselves individually.
He expressed appreciation that APRA was now to be the voice that speaks for Africa so as to tell the story of Africa positively — first to the continent and then more important, to the rest of the world.
In this regard, he said the APRA had decided to promote positive Africa by highlighting five key areas — economic integration; infrastructure development; social welfare with a strong focus on health, education and poverty alleviation; good governance and tourism and leisure.
Among other dignitaries who were at the summit were the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and current chairman of the AU, Hailemarian Desalegn and the Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission, Erastus Mwencha.
Ghana sent a 30-man delegation led by the President of the Institute of Public Relations (IPR), .