Africa has an image problem. According to prominent Malian businessman and politician Cheick Modibo Diarra, it is struggling to overturn its reputation as a continent “that has its hands out always asking for help; that has no opportunities to give anyone; a continent where political instability rules and where countless other problems have free rein”.
Diarra, an astrophysicist, former chairman of Microsoft Africa and interim prime minister of Mali during 2012 and now chairman of the African Legal Network (ALN), an alliance of top tier law firms across Africa, is not the first to make this observation. Former president of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan bemoaned the negative image of his country, promoted by the West, he claimed, in a speech to foreign diplomats in 2014.
Four years previously, Nigerians had criticised a BBC documentary series, ‘Welcome to Lagos’, which exposed a community living off mountains of rubbish. The Lagos state government submitted a formal complaint calling on the BBC to “repair the damage we believe this series has caused to our image”.
Diarra says: “Until recently, communication in the form of newspapers, TV or radio was not well developed in Africa.