Africa’s creative economy and reputational rebound: A metanarrative of AfricaNXT, By Omoniyi Ibietan

Hours ago, I made a presentation focused on the above topic at the ongoing annual conference of the African Public Relations Association (APRA), as a participating member at the 34th edition of the annual conference of the 47-year-old body of PR practitioners in Africa and their global allies.

The paper was authored by me and Ngozi Odita, Executive Director/Founder, Social Media Week Lagos/AfricaNXT. Ngozi is passionate about the intersection of arts, culture and technology as they relate to Africa. She has spoken about her interests at leading institutions, including New York, Yale, and Columbia Universities.

In 2011, as a junior manager in NCC and three years after I joined APRA, my former boss and friend, Tony Ojobo, had enabled me to make my first presentation at APRA conference of that year, which took place at Kenya’s coastal city of Mombassa. I would revel in such entrepreneurship thereafter, especially after listening to Prof. Emmanuel Remi Aiyede’s impeccable presentation at the APRA conference in 2015, which occurred at the African Union Headquarters, a contemporary, riveting architectural masterpiece in Addis Ababa.

This year, the southern Africa Republic of Zambia hosts the Conference, at the imposing just-completed Kenneth Kaunda Wing of the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka, and as it is the tradition hosting right is offered national PR body of the host country, in this instance, the Zambia Institute of Public Relations and Communication (ZIPRC).

Ngozi and I had sent in an abstract, which was actioned favourably by the APRA’s institutional assessors, and slated as the first presentation after the opening and main plenary. It is gratifying to see the enthusiasm that greeted the presentation, which rides on the crest of the thematic focus of APRA’s 2023 conference, “CREATIVE AFRICA: Exploring the PR Potential of Africa as an Emerging Economic and Reputation Powerhouse”.

Our objective is to emphasize the ultimate transformation of Africa through an exploration of African arts, culture, industry and endowments, as well as the imperative of collaboration and cooperation, leveraging social technology.

Our presentation curates what has happened in 11 years since the Social Media Week (SMW) Lagos debuted as the only African campus of the globally celebrated annual social media week.

Using metanarrative as a convenient and auspicious framework, Ngozi and I deployed graphics of what Africa can do to enhance her prosperity, many of which have been demonstrated serially over the years at SMW Lagos/AfricaNXT – the largest gathering of innovators across Africa and the African Diaspora.

Since 2016 when my predecessor as Head of Online Media at NCC, Aihe Okoh, led the NCC team to SMW Lagos, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has been a programming partner of Social Media Week Lagos, and its successor, AfricaNXT, the NCC has been unwavering in its collaboration with AfricaNXT.

The rebranding of SMW Lagos as AfricaNXT was done to give focus to African issues as the world celebrates SMW in many centres of the world, and as a leading regulator in Africa, the NCC continually partners AfricaNXT to demonstrate its commitment to expanding the frontiers of digital culture to ensure that individuals, businesses and the nation harness derivable benefits of collaboration and social technology. So, this presentation at APRA aims at nudging other African countries to participate in the annual AfricaNXT conference. Hitherto, the African Diasporan community engages AfricaNXT more than other Africans on the continent.

Our paper asserts that despite Hegel’s poor documentation, Cheikh Anta Diop and his fellow reconstructive historians have established Africa, not merely as the continent of origin of humankind, but literature is also replete with astonishing feats of Africans, and we insisted, as Ngugi wa Thiong’o and his kind have explained, the imperative of decolonizing the mind to pursue, frontally, the necessity for Africa’s development.

The presentation captures tellingly and graphically, exploits at AfricaNXT Conferences, and the historic duty of our generation to re-create, co-create, cooperate and collaborate to harness and harvest arts, culture, human, industrial and natural endowments, as well as leverage social technology to remake Africa. Using, essentially, photos and videos, the presentation pointed at new pathways to reeducate the mind and ‘rehumanize’ our lands of over 50 jurisdictions to set Africa on the path of prosperity once again.

Conclusively, we appealed to other countries in Africa to take the opportunity provided by the annual AfricaNXT Conference programming to refocus change processes on the continent in a creative, practical, collaborative and sustainable sense, so Africa can experience the growth it requires to make a reputational rebound.

-Ibietan, PhD is the Head of Media and Public Relations, Nigerian Communications Commission

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