Should Africa employ lobbyists?

 
Joseph Kabila Joseph Kabila has employed a PR firm to boost DR Congo's image abroad

A number of African governments accused of human rights abuses have turned to public relations companies to salvage the image of their countries.

The BBC's Focus on Africa magazine asked two experts whether "reputation management" is mostly a cover-up for bad governance.

Thor Halvorssen, president of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation and founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum, said Yes. He believes that reputation management in Africa "often means whitewashing the human rights violations of despotic regimes with fluff journalism and, just as easily, serving as personal PR agents for rulers and their corrupt family members."

Joel Frushone, founder and president of Crescent Consultants in Washington DC, disagreed.

He did public relations work for President Joseph Kabila during and after the 2006 presidential elections in DR Congo, and argues that "PR firms working for African governments can actually also serve as agents of change. Much more so than human rights groups, who are often perceived by governments as focusing on the negative and serving as watchdogs ready to bite rather than as partners for change."

What do you think? Is "reputation management" a cover-up? Are PR companies representing African governments helping their countries or contributing to hinder their development?

 

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 8.

    If you are doing the right thing for the people, even with limited resources and the lines of communication are 2 ways I do not see the need for employing PR company. Situation will not degenerate if the living condition is average, in Africa. It is only a requirement when the rulers decide to their own thingy.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 7.

    Mediocrity is a norm across Africa. We wallow in our pitiful existence but the civilized world do cover us in world news and events inspite of our folly. We see wonderful events and developments all over the world but we are content with our non inquiring and elementary analytical skills because we do not know any better. What can a management comapny do for us? We need functioning brain cells.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 6.

    No, African dictators\despots should not hire PR firms. They need to stop stealing. What Africans need to do is hold their leaders accountable and stop blaming the West for their ills (the world is tired of hearing it). Until Africans are willing to standup for their freedoms, nothing will change. Learn from the greats that won independence in South Africa. Viva, Madiba\Sisulu and others! Viva!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 5.

    You can't fix damages being done by african Dictators recycling US dollard back to the US or western PR firms, investing on your people make the difference been RDCongo know what's going on RPs are Neo-Colonial tool keeping africa under the grip of the great White Master ! Great Leader MANDELA ,LUMUMBA, SANKARA if I can name few don't need PR, the work done speaks volume.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 4.

    No. African leaders shouldn't have to hire PR firms to improve their image abroad. Western media should stop the over-generalization of Africa as a country, instead of a continent of more than 53 distinct countries. No other continent is over-generalized.Not Europe,Asia, North America nor South America. Most African leaders are corrupt. But, who provide them safe havens for their loot? The West.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 3.

    The very simple fact that this question (and "article") relates only to African governments, proves the point in favour of the use of PR. Even if we disregard the overgeneralising use of "Africa", (after all, "African governments" are "dictators"), one would have to wonder why the same question about PR use is not asked regarding other parts of the world. Don't the US, the UK also use PR?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2.

    The reason why African governments/leaders use PR firms (generally from the USA or the EU) is because they believe this will give them access to military/econmic help when they need it: it embedded in the illusion that only white people can solve Africa's problems.The DRC is still not attracting any significant investment, and peace remains elusive in Eastern Congo: congolese deserve a refund !!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1.

    Reputation Management is impossible to use for a makeover when the commodity is damaged! Rupiah Banda (RB) former President of Zambia tried that and look where it landed him, despite the incumbency of office! Just shows you what parallel voting tabulation, that was espoused by the PF party, without using the expensive PR people RB engaged from UK and US were unable to save him!

 

More Africa stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.