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Developing a Communication Strategy to Define AfDB's Role in Egypt

Founded in 1964, the African Development Bank (AfDB) is a financial institution geared towards promoting development across Africa. The Bank carries out its programs through three main branches: the African Development Bank (ADB), the African Development Fund (ADF), and the Nigerian Trust Fund (NTF). Currently, African members to the bank are 53 and non-African members are 24.The main role of the AfDB in Egypt is to promote the creation of microfinance institutions and provide technical and financial assistance to the government regarding large-scale projects such as infrastructure development.

1
The Challenge

Though Egypt is one of the founding members of the AfDB, and happens to be one of its largest shareholders, the Bank faced a serious challenge promoting public awareness of its role to majority of Egyptians. By nature of the Bank's business, most dealings operate with senior levels within the government, leaving little leeway for acknowledgement of the Bank's important work. To date the African Development Bank has signed over 23 sovereign loans and 1 grant agreement with the Egyptian government, in addition to other grants to the private sector. Furthermore, though the majority of AfDB's investments are aimed at supporting the Egyptian economy, they were not effectively publicized, which lead to a perceived peripheral role within Egypt.
 
The Bank called on MEAComS in 2009 to develop a complete outreach strategy that would define its image in a compelling and positive way.

2
The Approach

MEAComS was brought in to provide communications strategy and outreach for AfDB's business operations to portray the significant role it was playing. MEAComS would have to fashion a strategy, which did not rely on some of the traditional tools of the PR, but rather tell the compelling story of how AfDB would turn to an agent of change within the Egyptian society. Once key issues were identified and prioritized, we promoted the African Development Bank with multiple services tailored to resolve its concerns, which consisted of setting up logistical arrangements for events such as conferences and forums, while formulating and disseminating explanatory communication material of the Bank's function within Egypt. Spokespersons were coached through MEAComS on dealing with the media during public interviews.
 
Regarding media coverage, we publicized important milestones surrounding the Bank’s multiple projects, some of which include:
 
·         Signing of a loan agreement at the Ministry of International Cooperation with Minister Fayza Aboul Naga, in addition to a grant agreement benefitting small farm holders,
·         An accord with the Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe and;
·         The 47th Annual Meeting held in Tanzania.
 
Our key milestone with the AfDB involved managing the media coverage of the Bank’s youth employment forum, “Building the Future of Egypt” in late 2012. We used this opportunity to highlight the Bank's reports and emphasize their role in the region as equivalent to that of the World Bank or IMF.

3
The Results

MEAComS worked with the African Development Bank on multiple projects stretching over the years since 2009, which led to a fundamental transformation in the market perception of the Bank. During our partnership, we successfully handled five events, which hosted high-ranking dignitaries and Egyptian Ministers, and generated media coverage with a total worth of EGP 4,939,437 in advertising value.
 
In the last forum alone and over the course of one month, MEAComS provided coverage for the Bank in 124 news outlets. Through early publicity about the upcoming forum, we emphasized the Bank’s forecast of Egypt’s economic future and generated interest on their intention to discuss innovative solutions to the problem of youth unemployment in Egypt. After issuing the forum's press release, it was picked up promptly by the international and local media. Over and above the successful initiation of the event, our media coverage reached 18,162,843 people.

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