Another ‘Scramble for Africa’ by foreign powers: Report

Newly launched study shows that there is another scramble for Africa by the international media, but this time it is about who can best profit from the continent’s business opportunities.
And the charge is being led by foreign powers, with 70 percent of coverage about business in Africa referencing China, the USA, Russia, France, and the UK, according to the study ‘The Business in Africa Narrative Report’ that conducted in collaboration between Africa No Filter and AKAS Consulting.
The analysis on the project covers analysis of 750 million stories published between 2017 and 2021 on more than 6,000 African news sites and 183,000 sites outside the continent.
It stated that 70 percent of coverage about business in Africa references foreign powers including China, the USA, Russia, France, and the UK, while corruption referenced in nearly 10 percent of stories on business in Africa and less than one percent of the coverage on business and Africa referenced the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
The report shows that the keywords, stories, frames, and narratives associated with business on the continent are dangerously distorted. There is an overemphasis on the role of governments, foreign powers, and larger African states alongside an under appreciation of the role of young people, women, entrepreneurs, creative businesses, smaller successful African states, and Africa’s future potential.
In addition to the dominance of foreign powers in business stories featured in international media, the report highlighted a number of other key frames dominating dangerous distortions played out in stories, and the underrepresentation of businesses across the continent, including more negative coverage, and Africa is Nigeria and South Africa.
International reporting on Africa is also observed on silencing creativity and amplifying technology, and youth and women are underrepresented,
It said that international media are more likely to have a negative tone, “African media are twice as likely to reference corruption in their coverage of business in Africa compared to international media, with corruption featuring in 10 percent of African media stories.”
According to the study nearly 50 percent of articles in global media outlets reference South Africa or Nigeria, crowding out business stars like Mauritius, Namibia, and the Seychelles. Mauritius is the highest-ranking African country in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index.
“Nollywood is the world’s second-largest film industry, and music genres like AfroBeats and AmaPiano are influencing pop culture globally, yet creative businesses were only featured in 1 percent of all business news articles across African and global media. Additionally, while 22 percent of Africa’s working-age population started new ventures between 2011 and 2016, the highest rate of any region globally, African start-ups received declined coverage,” the report adds.
Africa also has the youngest population globally; however, youth and women are underrepresented in business stories. “In fact, online news coverage of young people has declined between 2017 and 2021.”
In addition, stories about African youth globally are often framed through negative stereotypes, invoking images of inactivity, violence, and crime.
It showed that 54 percent of business news in 2021 was framed through government action and policies. Additionally, African media focused more on themes related to 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.
“The AfCFTA is the largest free trade area in the world by the number of countries taking part, yet it makes up less than 1 percent of business news and analysis while mentions of foreign direct investment fell from 3.2 percent in 2017 to an even lower 1.9 percent of coverage in 2021,” the report said.
Moky Makura, Executive Director at Africa No Filter, said “we wanted to understand why Africa is seen as a high-risk business destination and why the cost of money is at a premium. The report gives us an insight into why. It shows that business opportunities on the continent are both underrepresented and misrepresented, and now that we know this, we can work on educating the media and changing the narrative around business in Africa.”
Richard Addy, report author and co-founder of award-winning international audience strategy consultancy, AKAS, added “this ground-breaking report offers a detailed data analysis on the narrative around business in Africa. This rigorous research is important because narratives, frames and stories are the lenses through which we perceive and experience Africa. They inform beliefs, behavior and ultimately dictate policy.”
The Business in Africa Narrative Report is the latest research project by narrative-change organization Africa No Filter and forms part of their work to understand and shift harmful and stereotypical narratives about Africa.
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. AKAS is an award-winning international audience strategy consultancy.

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