African communicators to spread World Cup news

More than 300 marketers and communicators from across Africa gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa, to discuss the best ways to harness the FIFA World Cup 2010 to project a new image of Africa to the world. The second annual National Communication Partnership Conference, hosted by the International Marketing Council of South Africa and the 2010 National Communication Partnership task team was organised under the theme Africa's time has come! “To make this a truly African World Cup there is a need for linkages and partnerships amongst communicators across the continent and the diaspora. This year’s Partnership conference is a step in that direction,” stressed Chairperson Nkenke Kekana. “The 2010 World Cup will be an opportunity to build African solidarity and to foster a climate that contributes to making the world think differently about us; because we are going to deliver a World Cup experience that will be hard to match”, added Yvonne Johnson, CEO of the IMC.

"Africa's time has indeed come. The entire continent must work together and consolidate African solidarity around this project, the African showpiece," Dr Makhenkesi Stofile, the South African Minister of Sport and Recreation, told delegates. He urged all Africans to unite and share what he called "the broader responsibility that transcends the borders of the African continent." Dr Ben Egbuna of Nigeria, the President of African Union of Broadcasters, concurred. "Regardless of our political complexion and national ideology, preparation for this tournament has to be an 'everybody's' undertaking. Let's foster and strengthen the inter-country competitive spirit and build synergy among the various media organisations on the continent. It is a challenge for Africa and in particular African media to use this opportunity to counter the wrong perceptions of Africa and project the positive image and values of the continent," he said.

According to Danny Jordaan, CEO of the South African Football Association-linked Local Organizing Committee, stakeholders are "quite comfortable" with progress being made for the tournament. Five new stadiums were being built, one was receiving a major upgrade and there were already four existing ones. "Four of the stadiums can be used to host the FIFA World Cup tomorrow," he said. "We are convinced that all these stadiums will be ready for 2010. If we do it on deadline we will be the first host in the world to complete all its stadia on time," he said. Efforts were also being made to ensure that the tickets, of which there would be about 3.5 million available, would be affordable. He said the preliminary draw, the first official event, will be held in Durban on 25 November with the highest number of countries ever had entered for the event.

World Cup 2010 Government Unit Director-General Joe Phaahla said the South African Government was planning to prevent major electricity outages normally experienced during its winter months during the World Cup. "We will not want to see blackouts during the tournament. We as government are cogniscant of the fact that the games will be held in winter, and it is during the time when we experience a major demand in electricity. We are working with Eskom and the Department of Minerals and Energy to make sure that all the stadia are powered by generators in terms of the FIFA agreement," he said. "The is receiving urgent attention and there is nothing to worry about," Phaahla said.

"A joint effort of communicators from across the continent is necessary to promote African solidarity, the continent's beauty and create a positive communication climate to promote development and expand opportunities in marketing our continent," said Thabo Masebe of the South African Government Information Services. While Tim Modise, spokesperson for the LOC, said the idea was not to "twist" the truth about Africa, but "the way the story is being told. It is not like we are going to do away with typical problems that we know are there, but to show the world that there is more to Africa than what people are used to," he said.

"We need to take advantage of the opportunity to create a positive image of our continent to the world. The World Cup in Africa is more than just soccer alone. It is also about growth and development of our continent," Nkenke Kekana concluded. "We want to propagate a common vision and objectives for communication and leverage the event as a means to strengthen Africa's capacity to market itself internationally, and reinforce communication on 2010-related developments at country and continental level." The delegates resolved to use the NCP to exchange ideas and suggestions on how to define the continent's image and reputation in the world.

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