Our Insights

Africa is not a country

December 4, 2023

By Michael Rubenstein, Aprio ARM


Many of our South African clients have ventured across our borders and expanded into different African countries. As their strategic communications partner we have been at their side to provide expert communications and reputation management counsel and helping them navigate the complex and rapidly evolving African markets.


In this article, we share tips from the decades of experience that have both deepened our understanding of the complexities of African markets, and shaped our approach to the work we do.


Tip no.1: Relationships are everything


In all the different countries in which we operate, there is a common denominator – relationships are everything. When a client enters a new market, one of our first tasks is to plot a comprehensive stakeholder map. These include employees, suppliers, media, competitors, government and regulatory authorities, local communities, NGOs, influencers, amongst others.


Tip no.2: Stakeholders all matter equally 


When providing counsel to our clients, we emphasise the importance of treating all stakeholders equally – collaboration with each of these groups is intricately tied to the sustainability and success of their business. Whether it be customers, employees, suppliers, or the broader community, the stakeholder engagement approach needs to recognise the inherent value each stakeholder brings to the table. This approach extends beyond a mere communications strategy and reflects our client’s broader commitment to people, communities and the countries they are operating in.


Tip no.3: In-country partnerships


Over the years, Aprio’s Africa Regional Markets (Aprio ARM) has built relationships with trusted in-country partners who can provide on-the-ground support to help our clients achieve their business goals. This is especially important when it comes to navigating complex regulatory landscapes, understanding local market dynamics, and ensuring seamless integration into diverse cultural and business environments.


Tip no.4: Cultural sensitivity


Each country has its own unique culture and African countries are no different. These include traditional customs, religious practices, and social norms, to mention but a few, and these diverse factors impact the way businesses operate in any given country.


Understanding and respecting cultural differences is of paramount importance and Aprio ARM has successfully guided clients on these matters, helping them navigate the complexities and cultural sensitivities within different countries.


Tip no.5: Relationships are key to stronger partnerships


Aprio ARM’s approach to collaboration lies in building relationships that speak to a deeper mutual understanding, trust, and shared values. Like any relationship, this takes time, open communication, and a genuine interest in each other’s success. We believe a relationship goes beyond a business contract and can withstand challenges and build a successful foundation for long-term engagement.


In closing, by embracing Africa’s complexity and uniqueness, this sets the stage for meaningful collaborations that can drive positive change for generations to come. Aprio ARM will ensure that you are well equipped to protect and further your reputational and communications objectives.


If you’re looking for a communications partner that understands the African audience, contact  Michael Rubenstein on michael@aprio.co.za or call 082 903 7797.

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