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African Businesses Power Above Media Pessimism

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By Seth Onyango, bird story agency

Africa remains a growth market for business despite skewed media coverage that often overlooks the economic progress being made on the continent, according to the new report.

The Africa No Filter (ANF) study shows that narratives about business in Africa are dangerously distorted and ignore the entrepreneurial spirit and innovative force driving a continental economy.

“There is an overemphasis on the role of governments, foreign powers and larger African states alongside an underappreciation of the role of young people, women, entrepreneurs, creative businesses, smaller successful African states and Africa’s future potential,” reads the study, dubbed The Business in Africa Narrative Report, in part.

“Around 54.5 per cent of business news in 2021 was framed through government action and policies. Additionally, African media focused more on themes related to the government than on those related to entrepreneurship. Yet, African countries make up six of the top 10 countries whose populations were most likely to search for the topic of entrepreneurship in 2021.”

ANF study analysed over 750 million stories published between 2017 and 2021 on more than 6,000 African news sites and 183,000 sites outside the continent.

It further shows that Africa’s buzzing entrepreneurship is not getting adequate coverage in global and domestic media.

For instance, the novel African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) makes up less than 1 per cent of global media coverage.

It is despite being the largest free trade zone in the world with 54 participating states and a combined Gross Domestic Product of 3.4 trillion US dollars and growing.

AfCFTA is primed to lift 30 million Africans out of extreme poverty and boost the incomes of nearly 68 million others.

It’s also projected to boost Africa’s income by 450 billion US dollars by 2035 and increase Africa’s exports by 560 billion US dollars, mostly in manufacturing.

Brookings Institute argued it is shortsighted to ignore this progress, asserting, acknowledging progress does not absolve the responsibility to continue working toward faster and greater positive outcomes.

“By recognizing Africa as an opportunity, rather than a threat, governments, citizens, and organizations on the continent and around the world will be better positioned to face challenges and further boost positive trends,” says the institute.

African women business owners are also being left out of critical media coverage, despite the continent securing the top three spots in the Mastercard Index for the highest concentration of women business owners in the world.

ANF study also shows online news coverage of young Africans has shrunk since 2017, falling from 12.5 per cent of articles referencing young people in 2017 to 8.1 per cent in 2021.

Meanwhile, just like AfCFTA, “Nollywood being the world’s second-largest film industry and the growing influence of musical influences like AfroBeats and AmaPiano, creative businesses were only featured in 1 per cent of all articles across African and global media.”

Highlighting a different scramble for Africa, the ANF study shows that 70 per cent of international coverage about business in Africa is dominated by references to foreign powers like China, the USA, Russia, France and the UK.

The study comes on the back of solid growth being witnessed in Africa’s tech space, with its startup ecosystem hauling billions of dollars in investments and minting unicorns.

Africa is now home to seven unicorns; Jumia, Interswitch, Flutterwave, Andela, Wave, OPay and Chipper Cash.

Five of these became unicorns in 2021 –– including two in September alone –– indicating levels of interest in Africa’s startup market not seen before.

And in the record shuttering haul, the startup ecosystem raked in a record 1 billion US dollars in just seven weeks to mid-February 2022.

Africa has also in recent years made significant strides in developing its renewable energy capacity and adopting green technologies including EVs, ramped up space exploration and investment in transport and infrastructure, and built a commanding presence in the international trade of agricultural products and key minerals, just a few areas in which Africa is powering above stereotypes.

bird story agency

Also read: If You Kill Time, You’ll Bury Opportunities – The African Free Trade Agreement

Find the report here: http://africanofilter.org/the-business-in-africa-narrative-report


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