The EACD’s Dr Edna Ayme-Yahil (left) and Philippe Borremans (right) with Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, president of the African Public Relations Association (APRA).

The drive toward professionalisation, the challenges of communicating across cultures and the barriers presented by different languages, different political contexts and different markets – these are some of the core issues that concern the EACD, and which led to its foundation in 2008.

They’re also important issues for professional communicators working in the 54 countries that make up the continent of Africa, with its 54 independent states, six major language families (comprised of an estimated 3000 languages, according to some counts) and a population of 1.216 billion (compared with Europe’s 743.1 million). To examine the communications parallels between the two continents, two EACD members recently took part in the annual summit of APRA, the African Public Relations Association.

In her presentation at the event, EACD board member Dr Edna Ayme-Yahil outlined the pan-European environment, introduced the work of the EACD and shared results from the most recent European Communication Monitor. “They had the same need that we do to bring professionals together from different sectors,” Edna said after the event, “and they also have a wide diversity of not only cultural difference within the different countries, but also languages. It was very interesting to see where the differences and similarities lay.”

Among the topics under discussion, two themes especially stood out to the EACD representatives. One was the importance of adapting communications to local needs – Edna spoke about the ‘glocal’ approach to adapting to local situations. Another was the responsibility of communicators and public relations professionals to develop and promote the continent’s self-image, at home and abroad. As EACD Digital Communication Workgroup coordinator Philippe Borremans observed, “There is a shared objective of emerging as one Africa, one continent, breaking down the barriers between the countries through communications and through public relations. It was clear that our African colleagues all feel very much responsible in their profession for the image and the reputation of the continent.” At a time when Europe is undergoing its own existential crisis, its communications community could do worse than look at the example set by APRA.

The two organisations are examining ways to further collaborate in the future - further developments will be announced here.