By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The African Union’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is joining forces with the APO Group, the leading pan-African communications and business consultancy, to organise regular online press conferences once every month, to provide Africans with vital information on the continental preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as per the mandate given to the Africa CDC by all 55 African Heads of State and Government.
This support by the APO Group will complement the weekly press briefings that the Africa CDC has been holding every Thursday since March 2020.
The online press conferences will be hosted by Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC. They will deliver, among others, overviews of the epidemiologic situation at a continental level, progress updates on the African Union’s Partnership for COVID19 Testing (PACT), capacity building being undertaken with and for AU members states, updates on vaccinations and supplies of COVID19 materials to member states, and other updates including initiatives being rolled out by African Heads of State and Government. As with the weekly AfricaCDC briefings, audiences will also get the chance to hear from a representative of one of the 55 AU member states, under the AfricaCDC initiative to provide country specific information and data and to share experiences across the continent.
“Africa has over 1.3 billion people, and reaching them all with COVID19 information is a major priority of the African Union, as we work to prevent deaths, save lives and prevent unnecessary harm to economies. These online press conferences with APO Group will provide us with a unique way of connecting with many more people all over Africa than we reach through our regular Thursday morning briefings,” said Dr Nkengasong. “This is a practical and commendable example of the African private sector supporting African led efforts to fight COVID19. The APO Group’s vast online network gives us the confidence that we will be reaching not only the largest possible media audience, but also members of the public all over the continent.”
APO Group is already running similar briefings for the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa, meaning the company is now playing a critical role in the media outreach programmes of the two most prominent Pan-African health organizations. When APO Group began facilitating the fortnightly WHO Africa COVID-19 online press briefings in June 2020, they were the first to be translated and live-streamed on more than 300 Africa-related news websites, and on Google News. The partnership to jointly organise one of the AfricaCDC’s weekly online press conferences will follow the same format, with APO Group’s unparalleled reach meaning they will be accessible not only to journalists, but to regular people in every corner of the African continent, in English and French.
“Our work with the WHO Africa online press conferences has demonstrated the value of live streaming important press briefings, providing vital news and updates in real time,” said Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, Founder and Chairman of APO Group. “We are proud to now be working, once every month, with the African Union through the Africa CDC, as they have the continental mandate from Heads of State and Government to lead the continental response to COVID-19.”
In April, APO Group launched their Coronavirus Initiative for Africa (https://bit.ly/2DxYcvL) initiative, donating resources and expertise to support African governments, institutions and official organizations in the fight against COVID-19.
To date, APO Group has distributed more than 5000 press releases free of charge for governments and health authorities in more than 40 African countries.