Communication Axis for Africa’s Development

by Khadijah Aja Tambajang

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Africa is forecasted to be a 29 trillion USD economy by 2050, which will be the GDP of the US and Europe combined. How many people know this? It is for us Africans to educate our youths of this importance and their integral intellectual and economical participation in this boom. We must position ourselves in order for the rest of the world to realize that we comprehend what this economical sprout will mean — that we understand and will participate in such a viable forecast of our destiny.  Being centre stage in this pie sharing is a must for each African. We thus must take charge of our narrative and be the drivers of our promising development agenda.

In 2010, I set up my company MakalliMatta Consultancy (MMC), a global communications and business set up firm in the Gambia, with the objective of upscaling the Gambian communication industry and promoting Brand Gambia via business promotion. From a young age, I was fortunate to understand the impact of communication in development and the importance of us Africans communicating our issues and successes objectively. This great understanding came from having a mother who was a development professional at UNDP. Passing conversations and inevitable issues she sometimes brought home helped me recognise the importance of communicating to positively frame our stories; even in the face of brutal practices such as child marriage, gender-based violence etc.

I always knew that I wanted to be a storyteller. That passion for storytelling led me to aspire to be a journalist until my teenage years when I switched to something I frankly did not have a term for. All I knew was that I wanted to tell our stories, our way. I wanted to utilize communication to create impact; to highlight my continent contextually; to lure outsiders in and show them the beauty and richness of my continent; and overall, to connect serious investors interested in Africa’s development. This path led me to Public Relations and Africana Studies in University. I wanted to understand my continent deeply in order to promote and package it.

Using communication as a tool for development should be every African professionals’ concern. The power of communication and the great instrument it is for Africa’s development cannot be underestimated. We are in the best position to position ourselves strategically in the development sphere. We must not continue to be at the mercy of external ‘commentators,’ or ‘Africa experts.’ As communication experts, we have a fundamental responsibility to show the beauty, wealth and investment opportunities in the continent. Challenges are many in Africa, just as they are in other parts of the world. We must push on showcasing the good in order for it to inspire more of us in its replicating. Our role as communicators in Africa’s development must always guide us to show the great strides across the continent.

By highlighting and showcasing African giants such as, African Oil & Gas giant Oando who continue to raze the path of success for other indigenous African companies; Patrice Motsepe marveling us with his magical business acumen; the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s awe-inspiring work in promoting African entrepreneurship; and Gambia’s Unique Solutions, a small ICT company now making waves in Senegal and Liberia with bold regional plans. These great companies and individuals continue to motivate more young Africans towards greatness. Part of these unbridled accomplishments are the women. African women game changers such as Tigui Camara, Njeri Rionge, Amina J. Mohammed, and Fadumo Dayib also continue to raise the bar for women empowerment in Africa. Their global dominance makes them the perfect continental icons. Africa is blessed with intelligent individuals who can indeed take a seat at the global table of success. We must endeavour to carve out our destiny, on our own terms. Communicating these feats is key in our development. Economically, Following the European Union model of integration is also best practice for Africa to emulate if we are to evolve into a robust economic power. African countries are fast understanding the positive impact of transparency and good governance in pushing our development agendas forward hence we are a very promising continent.

As we move forward, social impact should take centre stage in our work. In order to move away from ‘development angels,’ we must each contribute to our communities and show the world that indeed we can find holistic solutions to our issues. At MMC, we engage in mentorship and internship programmes and have gone further to create a ‘Women Portal,’ on our website, where we promote women entrepreneurs. In the hub/blog tabs under the portal, you will find Gambian women in agriculture, fashion, STEM, entertainment etc. We chose to share our online platform in order to make it a mentoring platform for many other young women aspiring to greatness. Communication is the key for a developed Africa. It allows for much-needed knowledge linkage for enhanced South-South and global convergence.  It also allows us as communicators to leverage our work and upscale African economies for sustainable development.

This was written for the Africa Communications Leadership Report 2018 by Khadijah Aja Tambajang, the Founder and Lead Consultant of MakalliMatta Consulting – the only global communications agency in The Gambia.   Africa Communications Week is a platform for African communications professionals.

The report launched February 21st 2018, highlights leading professionals across Africa who through communications are contributing to the continent’s socio-economic development. Africa Communications Week is a virtual network of experts who are working towards transformative change in Africa through strategic communications. The campaign also focuses on taking control of the narrative that is told about Africa, by bringing together communications experts and trailblazers in the field to give a voice to this discourse.

The author was one of 50 experts selected by Africa Communications Week as one of the top 50 Africa based communication experts making a difference on the continent. Her contribution was sought on the role the communication profession has to play in advancing and influencing narratives about Africa that will have a transformative effect on the continent.


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