The Gambia Armed Forces Director of Press and Public Relations Major Lamin K Sanyang recently returned from Botswana where he attended the 30th edition of the African Public Relations Association (APRA) Conference from Wed 9 to Fri 11 May 18 in Gaborone. APRA is a non-governmental, non-profit organization established to foster unity via interaction and exchange of ideas among public relations practitioners in Africa and through communication, promote social, political and economic integration on the continent, which the Public Relations Association of The Gambia (PRAG) is a member.

The Gambia Armed Forces Public Relations Director and GCAA Public Relations Officer represented the Gambia at the conference under the theme “Re-Presenting Africa.” The convergence brought together 300 practitioners on the African continent and was designed to better equip the modern Public Relations and Communications Practitioners to face current challenges such as social media and fake news.

During the course of the conference Major Laming K Sanyang was opportune to take part in a panel discussion on the final day of the Conference chaired by Brig Gen John Agim John of the Nigeria Armed Forces on theme “PR and Effective Conflict Management in Africa”. Also on the panel were Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbi Adesanya, Director of Press and Public Relations and Information of the Nigeria Air Force and a host of other personalities from the Nigerian Security agencies.

The GAF PR Director in his deliberation on the panel discussion highlighted the PR role played by the Gambia Armed Forces before, during and after the political impasse that followed the Presidential elections of 1 Dec 16. He also took time to dwell on the positive developments being registered by the government of His Excellency President Adam Barrow.

At the end of the conference the members reiterated APRA’s commitment to ethical practices and their enforcement as a body to strengthen the brand “Africa”. The Conference also deliberated and adopted the “Gaborone Declaration” which shall guide APRA members in carrying out their activities in Public Relations as it affects the continent of Africa in an ethical manner.

The Declaration defines Public Relation as “… a strategic management function that fosters understanding, builds a strong reputation, promotes good governance, ethical behavior and optimizes diversity with all stakeholders using all forms of communication and research”.

During his debrief upon his return, the GAF PRO said the Conference enabled practitioners in the PR domain to map out a strategy to change the narrative about the African continent; that the forum was an avenue and opportunity for PR practitioners on the continent to narrate the positive African story to an international audience in order to change the negative perception with which the continent is associated. He also stated that it was an opportunity for Public Relations personnel from PRAG to sell the story of the New Gambia to their contemporaries and the international Public Relations conglomerate.

Major Sanyang concluded by stating that the participation of GAF and the military from the Federal Republic of Nigeria was highly commended by the participants and are encouraging members of the defence and security agencies from other African countries to take part in the next APRA Conference to be held in Kigali, Rwanda from 8 – 11 May 2019.