07 March 2021 – Consumers of news are influenced by the main-stream media’s narrative about Africa more than any other source of information. It is something that business, and investors, should guard against, and why you should listen to alternative voices.
When reporting about Africa, most news agencies, and large publishers, in Africa, and in the rest of the world, lean towards stories about political shenanigans, corruption, war, and humanitarian calamities. For some bizarre reason, this is what readers want to hear and see.
The downside is that many of these consumers of daily news are potential foreign investors into Africa. If you are competing with the rest of the world for limited funds, it is not ideal to have your investment case tainted by horrific stories about political backstabbing, war, famine, political murders, or faction formation.
Don’t get me wrong. These stories are extremely important and should be heard for the sake of building democracy and strong institutions across the continent. But there are other stories in Africa that are shouting to be heard. Africa, in general, is in a much better space than what it was ten years ago, despite perceptions to the contrary. Democracy, for one, has gained a foothold and is marching across the continent, albeit still limping in some regions. Elections are held regularly, and compared to the past, contested reasonably freely, fairly, and peacefully.
The fact that opposition parties are raising their voices and questioning the results, is because they now have the room to do so. In years gone by this would not be the case. Yes, of course, there are the problem children. However, in those countries still ruled by the iron fist, or by political cronies and a corrupt patriarchy, opposition is starting to build and to open-up political space for themselves. This new generation, hell bent on change and a better future, will eventually sweep the old and unmoulded from the table.
The outlook for Africa is bright, and if you were born, or lived and worked anywhere in Africa, you know that her people are resilient. And you know that they have an innate drive to do business. The wheels keep on turning, no matter what.
Although predictions by economists, downgrades and upgrades by rating agencies, or commentary by London based analysts and consultants should inform, it should never be the alpha and omega of an African investment strategy. Nor should media mantra swing a final investment decision.
While mainstream, western media conglomerates focus on security, war, famine, and other humanitarian issues; local, large African media houses and some editors and journalists (for whatever reasons), have developed an obsession with certain political figures and political events that will, in the long-term, have only limited impact on the future trajectory of that country.
In South Africa, for example, politicians like the main opposition leader Julius Malema and ex-president Jacob Zuma, have assumed the role of Hollywood actors and are portrayed by the local media as such. This inward-looking media obsession with certain personalities and factions within the ruling ANC party, and trying to undo the ills of the past, has come at a cost.
The South African media hardly covers the rest of the continent. Most South Africans are not aware of the huge opportunities that exists north of their own borders. They are tone deaf when it comes to business, new projects, great opportunities, innovation, technology, and how other African countries deal with their challenges, including their political challenges. Ditto for most foreign consumers of news about Africa. Hopefully, WhyAfrica can change and challenge this obsessive-compulsive narrative about war and famine in the western media, and the inward-looking, self-absorbed analysis by African publishing houses. The world needs to know about the real Africa. By that I do not mean to say that it should all be positive, of course not – or that politics should not be in the mix. It should, more than ever. But Africa is a vast continent with enormous challenges, and therefore, massive opportunities. Opportunities that we, at WhyAfrica, want to make you, the critical consumer of news about Africa, and possible investor, aware of. Please follow WhyAfrica on social media and subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter and digital magazine and be part of growing the real Africa.
WhyAfrica provides you with business intelligence that matters. WhyAfrica specialises in African affairs and natural resources. Africa is our business, and we want it to be yours too. To subscribe to WhyAfrica’s newsletter or digital magazine, and for more news on Africa, visit the website at www.whyafrica.co.za or send a direct message.