A billion Africans and the billion dollar question

There are 2 things you don’t want to see being made and those are sausages and conference themes. This years PAMRO conference theme is no different and all I can say was that there was lively debate and several awkward silences over the teleconferences we took to determine the main thrust of the event.

We wanted PAMRO’s 2018 conference theme to be bold yet relevant, and to point to a future that understands the true potential of the African economy and media’s significance to the end goal. We thus ended up with ‘A billion Africans and the Billion Dollar Question: Media Data and Analytics for Change’.

With a conference theme the hosts aim to direct the thoughts and energy of every participant in order to arrive at a prescribed set of outcomes. They offer a central thought that is linked to a current problem or a prevailing trend around which the content, presentations and debates may be focused on. If indeed the conference has been able to attract the best minds in a business sector, then this is the type of focus that will lead to relevant and powerful solutions for the future.

Over and above distilling major solutions, the organizers also encourage the type of dialogue between delegates that will see both individual and communal interests catered for. Let us not forget that it is selfish interest that brings a sizable number of delegates to the conference, and many people will ask ‘what’s in it for me’ before they sign up. However, for long term, annual conferences to remain relevant it is necessary that larger and overarching interests are addressed, which will see the continual improvement of a sector and the opportunities for the players therein.

The networking that happens during these events form an excellent platform for upwardly mobile executives who intend to build a personal brand around themselves. It also allows industry chiefs to establish important joint points of view that can defend an entire sector from attack — be it from unsavory practices that put the majorities interests in jeopardy or unfavorable government policy.

The PAMRO ‘18 theme recognizes that the continents wealth lays in its people because of the sheer size of the population which stands at 1 billion. As the economy continues to grow steadily above the worlds average and with more empowered communities it offers huge opportunities for brands and services as well as infrastructure and development initiatives. 

We speak of the billion dollar question with reference to the fact that a problem is 90% solved when the right questions are asked. In this instance the inquiry is directed towards the role that media and the changing communication technology has to play in the fulfillment of Africa’s potential. 

It is when we build a harmony of thought and intentions, when our communal energy and actions result in a synergy where the sum is larger than the parts that make it; when we can truly define our desires as a continent into a set of distinctive goals that occupies the heart of the African, then we can make great leaps to solve the myriad problems that dog us, and drive solidly towards a glorious future. 

The media has the potential to be the unifying element of this all, and like an experienced orchestral conductor, to lead us towards a harmony that transcends all differences.

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About Joe Otin

CEO of The Collective interactive ad agency, Chairman of the Advertising Standards Board of Kenya, and Rotary Governor Elect of District 9212 covering Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea & South Sudan.

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