Although Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist and philosopher who lived in the first century AD, pronounced: “Ex Africa semper aliquid novi” – meaning “There is always something new coming out of Africa” – brand Africa has continued to be under siege.
This phrase encapsulates several layers of meaning and historical context. One interpretation of this quote is related to Africa’s incredible natural diversity. Africa is a vast continent with a wide range of ecosystems, climates, and species of flora and fauna. Pliny may have been alluding to the constant discovery of new plants, animals, and natural phenomena in Africa, reflecting the continent’s rich biodiversity.
Another interpretation is related to Africa’s cultural richness and contributions to the world. Throughout history, Africa has been the birthplace of numerous civilisations, languages and cultural innovations. Pliny’s quote could suggest that Africa has been a continuous source of new ideas, art, music, and cultural practices that have influenced other regions.
During Pliny’s time, Africa was still a relatively unexplored continent to the Romans. The quote might reflect the idea that as explorers and traders ventured deeper into Africa, they encountered new territories, peoples, and resources, constantly expanding their knowledge of the continent.
For me, Pliny’s quote seeks to highlight the idea that Africa has a long history of innovation, creativity, and discovery that has been under-appreciated or overlooked by other parts of the world. It is evidence enough to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about Africa, emphasising its dynamism and the continuous emergence of new developments, whether in science, culture or other fields. It underscores the idea that Africa is not a stagnant or monolithic entity but a place of ongoing change and evolution.
What is the onslaught that Africa is facing? According to the BBC News (in a segment titled “The Problem with Stereotypes of Africa”), Africa has often been portrayed in Western media as a continent plagued by poverty, disease and conflict which perpetuates negative stereotypes. These stereotypes do shape public perceptions.
I’m concurring, the World Bank (in “Africa’s Infrastructure: A Time for Transformation”), Africa has been associated with underdevelopment and a lack of infrastructure and basic services in some areas, which can contribute to a perception of the continent as struggling.
The Brookings Institute (“Africa’s Governance Challenges”) also indicated political instability in some African nations has led to a perception that the continent is inherently unstable, which can deter investment and development.
The Council on Foreign Relations (“Conflict in Nigeria”) posited that some regions of Africa have experienced conflict and terrorism that contributes to a perception of insecurity and instability.
Although these negative perceptions should not represent the entirety of Africa – which is a vast and diverse continent with many positive attributes, including rich cultural heritage, economic growth in various regions, and a young and dynamic population – the stakeholders, even commentators here in many parts of the continent, brush the entire continent with the same paint. These stereotypes and perceptions oversimplify and misrepresent the complex reality of Africa. We have embarked on efforts to challenge these stereotypes and provide a more balanced view of the continent’s challenges and opportunities.
We have to fight back. In recent years, Africa has emerged as a continent of immense potential and promise. Gone are the outdated stereotypes and misconceptions that once plagued the region, replaced instead by a narrative of growth, innovation and opportunity. The ongoing brand re-engineering of Africa is transforming it into the world’s last frontier for economic development, and it’s a narrative that we are propagating as Brandhill Africa™ – a pan African global competitive identity and economic diplomacy group whose product offerings include this news portal you’re reading right now.
Africa’s transformation is a multifaceted process that encompasses not only economic growth but also social and cultural advancements. The African Union’s Agenda 2063, a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent, envisions a united, prosperous, and peaceful Africa. It highlights key priorities, including infrastructure development, industrialisation, and good governance, all aimed at accelerating the continent’s development.
One of the most significant aspects of Africa’s re-engineering is its vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. Across the continent, startups and innovators are creating solutions to some of Africa’s most pressing challenges, from healthcare and agriculture to education and renewable energy. These homegrown entrepreneurs are not only solving local problems but also attracting global investors who see the immense potential in Africa’s burgeoning tech scene.
Moreover, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement has the potential to be a game-changer. It’s set to create the world’s largest single market, with over a 1.4 billion consumers. By reducing trade barriers and fostering economic integration, AfCFTA can drive economic growth and job creation, benefiting both African nations and international partners looking to invest in the continent.
Natural resources, long seen as Africa’s primary assets, are being reevaluated in a more sustainable and responsible way. African countries are increasingly focusing on value addition and beneficiation, moving beyond mere resource extraction. This shift in mindset is critical for long-term economic development and environmental sustainability.
However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that challenges remain. Infrastructure deficits, political instability, and regulatory hurdles continue to hinder progress in some areas. Furthermore, inequality and poverty persist in many parts of Africa, highlighting the need for inclusive development policies.
As the world looks to Africa, it’s essential that international community, governments and businesses engage responsibly. Partnerships should be built on mutual respect and shared benefits, avoiding the exploitation that has marred Africa’s past.
Africa’s brand essence as the leading last frontier of development is a narrative that captures the spirit, resilience and boundless potential of the continent. Africa beckons the world with its unique charm, promising a story of growth, transformation and empowerment.
Our continent embodies resilience. Despite historical challenges, it has emerged stronger, demonstrating the ability to adapt, thrive and lead on the global stage.
Africa’s cultural diversity is its costume, reflecting the beauty of its many nations and peoples. Its rich tapestry of traditions, languages and artistry creates a captivating and colourful narrative.
It unites diverse talents and resources, fostering collaboration among nations. Just as a cohesive ensemble cast creates a compelling story, Africa’s efforts toward continental integration, exemplified by initiatives like the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), showcase its commitment to collective development.
Africa’s brand essence is one of hope, opportunity and inspiration. The continent’s youthful population and emerging middle class offer a promising future, attracting global attention and investment.
We strongly argue Africa’s brand essence has to be a story of resilience, empowerment, unity, and hope. It has to portray a continent that is not waiting for salvation but is taking centre stage and leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future. Africa’s narrative has to be one of strength, inspiration and limitless potential that invites the world to join in its journey towards progress and prosperity.
Brandhill Africa, with its deep-rooted understanding of the continent’s unique challenges and opportunities, emerges as the best-qualified entity to spearhead the brand re-engineering of Africa into the world’s last frontier for economic development.
It is not an outsider looking in, it’s an insider with a profound understanding of Africa’s diverse cultures, economies and societies. This local expertise enables us to navigate the complex nuances of each African nation and tailor strategies that resonate with the local population while also aligning with broader regional and global objectives.
We have a demonstrated strategic vision that extends beyond short-term gains. Our approach is holistic, encompassing economic development, social progress and environmental sustainability. This long-term perspective is crucial for ensuring that Africa’s development is not only rapid but also sustainable.
We are mindful that rebranding a continent requires innovation and creativity. Our track record in creative marketing and communications positions us as a frontrunner in shaping Africa’s new narrative. Our ability to craft compelling stories and promote African achievements on a global stage is unmatched.
We excel in forging collaborative partnerships which are essential for Africa’s development. We have brought together governments, multilateral organisations, businesses and civil society to work towards common goals. This ability to foster cooperation is invaluable in tackling complex challenges that require a collective effort.
Inclusivity is at the core of Brandhill Africa’s philosophy. We recognise that the benefits of Africa’s transformation must reach all segments of society, from rural farmers to urban entrepreneurs. Our commitment to inclusivity ensures that economic development is not limited to a select few but extends to marginalised communities as well.
We are committed to ethical business practices and sustainable development. We prioritise environmental conservation, responsible resource management and ethical governance. This commitment aligns with global standards and expectations, making us a reliable partner for foreign investors and organisations.
Recognising Africa as a dynamic continent with rapidly changing circumstances, Brandhill Africa™’s adaptability and agility in responding to evolving challenges and opportunities ensure that our strategies remain effective in an ever-changing landscape.
While rooted in Africa, Brandhill Africa also possesses a global perspective. We understand the interconnectedness of economies and the importance of positioning Africa as a competitive player on the global stage. This embedded in our DNA as I am a former diplomat, having served as South Africa’s Consul-General to Milan, Italy, from 2012 to 2016. Thus, our strategies leverage Africa’s strengths in a global context.
Doubtlessly, our qualifications to undertake the task of re-engineering Africa’s brand for economic development are undeniable. Our combination of local knowledge, strategic vision, creativity and commitment to ethical and inclusive development positions us as the ideal brand management partner to lead Africa on its journey to becoming the world’s last frontier for economic growth. As we continue to innovate and collaborate, the world can look forward to a brighter and more prosperous future for Africa and the global community.
In conclusion, Africa’s brand re-engineering is a compelling story of resilience, innovation, and transformation. The continent is evolving into the world’s last frontier for economic development, offering boundless opportunities for those who recognise its potential. As Africa continues on this path, it is incumbent upon all stakeholders to support and invest in its growth, ensuring that this narrative of progress becomes a lasting reality for generations to come. Africa’s success is not just Africa’s; it’s the world’s success.
Do enjoy your weekend and we wish South Africans a happy Heritage Month this September.
Saul Molobi (FCIM)
Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Tel: +27 11 483 1019
Mobile: +27 83 635 7773