Hello, dearest readers…
Welcome to our second edition of Jambo Africa Online – your first home-grown and Africa-based digital publication that aims to provide information on the continental economies as we march towards an integrated free trade area.
It’s with a heavy heart for us to declare that brand Africa is under siege. A highly reputable annual survey, Brand Africa (led by one of Africa’s foremost thought leaders on competitive identity, Thebe Ikalafeng), has found that only fourteen percent of the Top 100 Most Admired Brands consumed in Africa are home grown – that is, those that are produced and owned by Africans. This is regrettable. What is worse about this paltry figure is that it’s a six percent decline from last year’s twenty percent!
Then the annual statistics released by the Bretton Woods institutions – namely, the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – have said the intra-African trade is sitting at fourteen percent. The number fourteen seems to be a curse for the continent! This means 86% of Africa’s trade is with the other continents.
This, dear readers, is what has motivated us in launching this publication. simply demands of us to support the accelerated implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
How will the AfCFTA benefit us. “Made in Africa” is our answer. All our products and services, from the home-grown intellectual properties, have to be the drivers of our economies. By brand positioning these services and products and placing them at top of mind of Africa’s consumers, the awareness and loyalty to these brands among the customers will definitely increase. We should without any shame and doubt encourage our consumers to buy “Made in Africa”. This will in no way transgress the rules and regulations laid down by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This is about pride in what we do and who we are.
Borrowing from Socrates, we have to know that “the way to gain a reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear…” We can’t pretend to be truly African if we are not affirming our own producers and manufacturers. We have to first worship our home-grown brands.
But producers and manufacturers have to budget for their products to be promoted. I usually say to South Africa enterpreneurs that technically Coca Cola doesn’t face serious competition since the demise of Pepsi in the local market in the 1990s, and yet it advertises its products every day.
Our brand positioning shouldn’t be based on the “back to our roots” epistemology; without necessarily undermining our heritage, it should discard the infantile over-reliance on ethnic symbolism; yes such post-modernist positioning should consciously and deliberately move away from perpetuating ‘Tarzanism’ and its “jungle of Africa” stereotypes. But should communicate the current “transvergent” culture as articulated by Vipin Gupta that represents Africa’s new personality. Stuart Hall argued we should celebrate ”what we have become” as fully-fleshed members of the global community. This, he said, it’s the appreciation of the “culture dialectic”.
To say our arrival as Brandhill Africa (Pty) Ltd has been welcoming will be a gross understatement. Our Editor alludes to this in his Editorial Comment. From my desk I can confirm that I have received many notable invitations from across the continent as a speaker. First it was at the Chamber for Tourism Industry Ghana in August. This was followed by the Infrastructure Leading Change’s conference on “Africa infrastructure collaboration/international trade” in September.
Then the next few weeks will be busier. I will be speaking at several virtual conferences. These are the 7th Edition of the African Entrepreneurs Conference on 26 and 27 November organized by African Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre (AIEC). Then two others are the one by African Network for Evidence-to-Action in Disability (AfriNEAD) on 1 and 2 December hosted by the University of Stellenbosch. Then back to back to this will be the Africa Women Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum on 2 and 3 December.
Celebrating the easing of the lockdown regulations will be the conference In Cape Town from the 6th to the 8th of October during the first week of October. I’m privileged to be one of the panelists in which we will de/construct brand Africa. Aptly dubbed the “Africa Brand Summit”, it’s annually convened by that visionary leader, Solly Moeng. The star-studded speaker line-up include Prof PLO Lumumba, Prof Thuli Madonsela, Sisa Ntshona and many other luminaries. My presentation will be on the role played by branding in economic development.
These major conferences we associate ourselves with are building the momentum towards our inaugural virtual conference on the 9th and 10th of December. Ours will be known as Biashara Services and Products Africa (BiSPA) Conference and Exhibition. Adapted from the kiSwahili word, “biashara” meaning trade or commerce, the conference will put a spotlight on Africa’s home-grown services and products while at the same time assessing the continent’s readiness to implement the AfCFTA from 1 January 2021.
The conference is one of the multiple touch points we will be launching to compliment the Jambo Africa Online brand.
Dear readers and all our stakeholders, it gives me great pleasure to welcome onboard our newly-established Editorial Advisory Board. Chaired by Dr Thami Mazwai, a celebrated advocate for entrepreneurship development and a veteran publisher; its members are Prof Tshimpaka Yanga, an academic at the University of Lumumbashi in the DRC; Ms Angela Akua Asante, a veteran television commentator and an accomplished media personality in Ghana; Francois Fouche, an avid economic researcher attached to the North West University; and yours truly as the Publisher.
Be part of our history. Take a ride with us as a reader, advertiser, sponsor and partner! Call us, text us…
Till next time.
Follow me on Twitter: @saulmolobi