Auteur : Richard Addy
Addy Kassova Audience Strategy Ltd (AKAS) est un cabinet international de conseil en stratégie fondé en 2012, qui fournit des stratégies d’impact, d’audience, d’entreprise, de narration et de communication à un large éventail d’organisations axées sur des objectifs divers.
Africa No Filter est une organisation internationale à but non lucratif qui soutient le développement d’une narration nuancée qui modifie les récits stéréotypés et nuisibles en Afrique et sur l’Afrique. Par le biais de la recherche, de l’octroi de subventions, du plaidoyer et de la création de communautés, nous visons à développer un écosystème d’acteurs du changement narratif en soutenant les auteurs, en investissant dans les plateformes médiatiques et en menant des campagnes d’information.
Richard Addy est cofondateur et directeur du cabinet international de conseil en stratégie d’audience AKAS (Addy Kassova Audience Strategy Ltd), qu’il a créé avec Luba Kassova pour aider les organisations à but non lucratif au Royaume-Uni et dans le monde.
Author : Richard Addy
Addy Kassova Audience Strategy Ltd (AKAS) is an award-winning international audience strategy consultancy founded in 2012, delivering impact, audience, corporate, narrative and communication strategies to a wide range of purpose-led organisations.
Africa No Filter is a not-for-profit international organisation that supports the development of nuanced and contemporary stories that shift stereotypical and harmful narratives within and about Africa. Through research, grant-making, advocacy, and community building, we aim to develop an ecosystem of narrative change-makers by supporting storytellers, investing in media platforms and driving disruptive campaigns.
Richard Addy is a co-founder and director of the international audience strategy consultancy AKAS (Addy Kassova Audience Strategy Ltd), which he set up with Luba Kassova to help purpose-led organisations in the UK and globally.
Date of publication : February 2022 / Février 2022
Pages used: 9, 11, 15, 16, 18, 21, 24, 27, 28, 29, 36, 39, 42, 45
Introduction and key findings:
A flourishing and inclusive wealth-creating business sector is critical for the development of jobs and to strengthen the economies of African states. At the same time, how stories about business in Africa are framed has a direct impact on individuals’ motivation and desire to set up new businesses, and to trade with, invest in or finance businesses.
The key findings detailed below reveal the seven significant frames employed in the coverage of business in Africa.
Frame 1: “More negative coverage”
Frame 2: “Foreign powers scramble for Africa”
Frame 3: “There are only South Africa and Nigeria”
Frame 4: “Silencing creativity, amplifying technology”
Frame 5: “Where are the youth and the women?”
Frame 6: “Government everywhere”
Frame 7: “Missing Free Trade Area and investment”
Exploring negative frames: ‘‘Coups in Africa’’ – case study
International media take a predominantly negative tone about Africa (Frame 1). Foreign powers are seen as the protagonists and Africa the pawn in a geo-political game (Frame 2). Youth perspectives are missing (Frame 5), despite the critical role that young people have played in democratic struggle across the continent.
Such framing can and does distort investment decisions and perceptions about doing business in Africa. Narratives can have a very damaging effect on perceptions of the business environment in Africa.
When AKAS surveyed Americans to probe how they interpreted the headline “Military Coups in Africa at Highest Level Since End of Colonialism”, a quarter assumed that there were more than 45 military coups in Africa in 2021, thus indicating the power of framing.
Insights and trends
Evidence points to Africans having the highest level of interest in business globally. In 2021, eight out of the 10 countries that had the highest proportion for business issues globally, using Google to search, were African.
Trends in business journalism with a focus on Africa have also demonstrated increased interest. This rise appears to be marked by newswires such as AFP, AP and especially Reuters giving greater prominence to business stories. In addition, “nearly every major global television network such as BBC, CNN, CGTN, CNBC, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, France 24 has programs dedicated to covering Africa and largely from their point of view’’ (Ndlovu, 2020).
By 2020, despite COVID-19, sub-Saharan Africa boasted seven of the top 10 fastest growing economies. It is therefore no surprise that in the field of academic research, the proportion of “Africa” referenced papers on Google Scholar that also mention the term “business” quadrupled, rising from 10% in 2000 to over 40% in 2021.
Such framing can and does distort investment decisions and perceptions about doing business in Africa. Narratives can have a very damaging effect on perceptions of the business environment in Africa
Seven key frames unearthed
Overall, the frames used outside Africa were bigger and more negative compared to the frames used in Africa. International media cover stories referencing “Africa” and “business” more negatively than African media. Stories that reference “corruption” (about 10% of the total) are the most negative, and, surprisingly, corruption stories are more likely to appear in African media.
References to foreign countries dominate the international coverage of business in Africa. There is a particularly disproportionate focus on China in the global coverage and academic research about business in Africa. In the field of consumer brands, non-African brands are disproportionately covered in the news media and talked about on social media, when compared with leading African consumer-facing brands.
International news providers are more influential with African governments than are pan-African news providers. In addition, research has shown that when African news brands report on business, the experts quoted tend to be foreign.
Attention in news media, academia and research is dominated by South Africa, and to a lesser extent Nigeria, with smaller business “stars” such as Mauritius, Botswana and the Seychelles. The volume of the combined coverage of Mauritius, Botswana, Namibia and the Seychelles in business stories is a fraction of the attention given to South Africa. The picture is even more extreme from a global perspective, with nearly 50% of articles that reference “Africa” and “business” mentioning South Africa.
The “Silencing creativity, amplifying technology” frame shows that, while narratives about Africa’s rich technology opportunities are wide-ranging and positive, coverage of entrepreneurs and creative industries is much more limited. 22% of Africa’s working age population had started new ventures during the period 2011–2016 – the highest rate of any region globally. Despite this fact, African start-ups and creative businesses receive little media coverage, although the coverage they do attract tends to be positive.
In addition, while African media articles referencing young people generally have a positive tone, those from outside Africa have a more negative tone. This may be because these international stories focus on the undoubted challenges young people face. The 2020 African news media content analysis of 85 African business-related stories identified the almost total absence of young people’s voices in coverage.
By 2020, despite COVID-19, sub-Saharan Africa boasted seven of the top 10 fastest growing economies. It is therefore no surprise that in the field of academic research, the proportion of “Africa” referenced papers on Google Scholar that also mention the term “business” quadrupled, rising from 10% in 2000 to over 40% in 2021
This finding points to a societal danger of marginalising the voices of young people, even though they constitute the majority of the population across Africa.
The narrative around gender equality and women’s concerns represents an even more challenging situation. In articles mentioning Africa and business, the proportion touching on gender equality issues has declined between 2017 and 2021.
The heartening finding from an African media perspective was that African media were more likely than international media to cover gender equality issues in their business-related stories.
A joint report by the African Union Commission and the OECD Development Centre found that “government action is key to overcoming challenges related to growth, jobs and inequalities”. This may explain in part why government, policy and regulation references are prevalent in approximately half of “Africa” and “business” stories both inside and outside Africa.
However, in the context of business, it is questionable whether business in Africa frames and stories should have such a government bias, considering the much lower coverage of entrepreneurialism.
International news providers are more influential with African governments than are pan-African news providers. In addition, research has shown that when African news brands report on business, the experts quoted tend to be foreign
The “Missing free trade area and investment” frame focuses on how little attention the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and foreign direct investment (FDI) receive in business stories about Africa.
The AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area, yet coverage of it is almost non-existent. This lack of visibility means that consumers, entrepreneurs, and businesses are not fully aware of what the AfCFTA is.
Source photo : africanofilter.org