Solly Moeng, the Founder and Convener of the Africa Brand Summit, provides the raison d’être for the continent’s premier annual conference, taking place from 7 and 8 October 2020.
Having successfully hosted the Brand Summit South Africa in Cape Town in May 2018, then in Sandton, South Africa, in June 2019, calls have continued to grow for the event’s thematic and strategic focus to move faster and address more Pan-African issues, instead of just one country. Destination perception issues at country- level also reappear at continental level, at home and abroad, and inform attitudes about individual countries and the entire African continent.
Ultimately, perceptions inform investor sentiments and attitudes. They can make or break any destination’s success in generating goodwill, which is the basis for positive engagements with the outside world.
Individual countries in Africa and the continent at a broad level continue to fail using all of their resources and potential to benefit African economic development and to position the continent as net exporter of food crops, a magnet for key and rare global skills, a magnet for foreign tertiary students seeking quality higher education whose credentials are respected around the world, as well as a magnet for lucrative foreign exchange earning business in Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events.
African leaders must also work harder at creating an enabling environment for cross-country and regional business; growth of the agrarian economy, seamless movement of goods and skills, as well as business friendly customs regimes where companies, especially established brands that work across various borders, do not get subjected to unnecessary red tape.
In the minds of millions of people around the world, especially those who have never been to Africa, perceptions about Africa tend to be negative, on the whole. Immediate associations with Africa/ being African, often stereotypically reference poverty, corruption, laziness, maladies, backwardness, archaic traditional systems, mores that stand in the way of modernity, etc. Such perceptions often work against all efforts to promote Africa as a place to do business, to go for tertiary studies, etc. In the end, they impede Africa’s full integration into the world economy on an equal footing, as a place of new knowledge creation and innovation beyond it being a mere source of natural resources for more developed economies.
Since the Africa Brand Summit proposes to become a respected platform for frank, politically unaligned, conversations – a place where Africans get to look into the mirror and acknowledge their own role in Africa’s perennially negative image – some people might find it to be an uncomfortable platform to participate in.
To date, we have managed to attract the participation of highly respected, ethical, and inspirational leaders in the public service, private business, civil society, media, etc. to speak at the summit. They have come from South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, USA, Burkina Faso, Finland, Russia, Hungary, India, the UK, Switzerland, Portugal, Bulgaria, etc. Their impact, individually and collectively, has raised the bar for us. We intend to keep it that way.
Justification for the project
- Individual countries in Africa, and throughout the continent as a whole, continue to suffer from perceptions, at home and around the world, that work against the continent’s need to generate global esteem and respect;
- As a result of the generally negative perceptions of Africa and what it means to be African, Africans tend to be negatively profiled and treated with suspicion when they 1) Go through customs/passport control around the world; 2) Enter restaurants, stores, business meetings, etc.; 3) Apply for or arrive at new professional appointments, as they get assumed to be incompetent/potential criminals until they prove themselves otherwise, even when they possess respected academic qualifications and are experienced in their field of expertise.
- � To initiate, facilitate and host frank, pan-African, conversations about the current image of Africa (continent’s brand image) and how it impacts perceptions, goodwill and, eventually, socio-economic development.
- AND to eventually establish an Africa- based global destination image ‘research and advisory service’ to provide globally applicable best practice in destination branding, positioning, and destination reputation management. The service’s approach will aim to be 80% proactive and 20% curative, helping countries understand possible reputational ramifications of new policy proposals before they are adopted (80%). There will also be crisis recovery advisory services on how best to manage ‘in crisis’ and ‘post-crisis’ communication.
The Approach: summary
The Africa Brand Summit is a lot more than an annual event where people come and exchange ideas, network, and then go back home. Deliberations at each annual event will be underpinned by research on the current and evolving image/reputational status of Africa, globally, with selective country and regional deep dives.
The discussions will therefore ask:
- What is the current reputation/image of
- Africa as a whole, each of its five regions, and of select influencer countries?
- How does such an image /reputation
- influence attitudes in Africa and across the world?
- What are the key drivers/ influencers of such an image/reputation?
- What must be done to augment/enhance the positive aspects and to progressively eliminate the negative ones?
- What recommendations will be made for policy makers and other leaders in politics, corporate/business, civil society, media, etc. to get them to understand their respective roles and, eventually, get them to play their part in generating, through their conduct, a progressively positive image of Africa, on the whole, and render it more attractive and hospitable for key skills (including those of expatriate Africans across the globe), (business) tourists, investors, global corporations, multilateral organisations, etc.?
This annual event would not have come as far as it has without the support of partners in business, government, civil society, academia, local and international sector and professional bodies, media, and other sectors of society.
The Africa Brand Summit is more than just an annual talk shop. It has already been cited on several occasions as a body urging government in South Africa to begin speaking in one voice and come up with clear political and economic policies. It will continue to reach out to African policy influencers and legislators in order to positively engage them with a view to influencing their policy decisions for the benefit of Africa.
The bias of the summit’s programmatic content will always start at local level, with its successive host countries, followed by their regions, then the whole continent. For global benchmarking, speakers and panellists will come from across the globe.
Reliable, tested scientific research will always be at the core of our deliberations.
Our sponsoring partners will always benefit from opportunities for brand exposure, networking with key decision makers in their and other related fields, as well as opportunities to influence policy decision-making through the platforms created by the summit.
The speaker list is star-studded, featuring a diverse range of local and international experts who have materially influenced the reputation of admired nations and private sector brands. These include Prof Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba, Prof Thuli Madonsela of Stellenbosch University; Sisa Ntshona, the CEO of SA Tourism; and Busisiwe Mavuso, CEO of Business Leadership South Africa.