Modern reflection of Africa

Too many times media only report about Africa in a negative way. To illustrate that, an overdose of heart breaking images can be found in any image bank. But start searching for a positive picture and you’ll have to try hard. Agility Africa noticed the same thing and in response launched a photo competition to reflect modern Africa.

With the competition, Agility, one of the world’s leading providers of integrated logistics, wants to highlight the success of emerging African countries and reflect their increasing progress. Seeking to show the often unreported side of Africa they called for photographers to capture their country booming with tech-savvy, youthful consumers, fast-paced urbanization and enormous long-term economic prospects.


Geoffrey White, CEO of Agility Africa, explains it as follows: “What we wanted to achieve by holding this photo competition is to create more media publicity for successes on the African market. In many countries and big cities in Africa they have first world infrastructure, modern skyscrapers and advanced technologies, but you don’t see that in the mainstream media. Therefore we decided that this side of the continent could use a bit more PR and with that needed images that showed this. Highlight this dynamic market filled with opportunities.”


Next to showing the real development of the continent in three categories (cities, industry and technology), Agility also hopes this photo competition engages amateur and professional photographers to present a modern, fast-changing view of Africa. “There are some world class images of Africa, but most of what is being picked up by the media passes by on this”, says White, who speaks and write frequently on African infrastructure and development, amongst other subjects. “There is a wow-factor to many cities and even I, after all my visits, still have it because you don’t believe that you’re in Africa when you see all these technologies. That’s because nobody showed them to you before and we want to change that. Change the view people have of the African continent.”


He admits that it of course also will benefit Agility as a company doing business there that this perception changes, but the competition is meant to be a positive for all parties involved. “And hoping that the photographers participating in the competitions show this, is will of course also be a great opportunity for them. The main thing is to change the misperceptions people have of Africa though, because they miss out on opportunities.” People shouldn’t close there eyes for the issues that are still present on the continent according to White, but in his opinion more good news should be shown. The media isn’t balanced when it comes to reporting on most African subjects. Therefore we will put the images on a website with the intention to create a bigger library showing the successes of business in Africa.”


The selection of the images and winners is made by a professional jury, consisting of Sneha Shah, managing director of Sub-Saharan African for Thomson Reuters, Bronwyn Nielsen, group executive director of the Africa Business News Group which includes CNBC Africa and Forbes Africa and last but not least artist and profesor Ablade Glover, who is the founder and director of the internationally renowned Artist Alliance Gallery in Ghana. “I’m personally not involved”, White says. “But I’m sure I will enjoy looking at the great images.”


The winning images of the city of Luanda in Angola, wheat fields in Kenya, and a child holding a cell phone were selected from more than 700 photographs submitted by photographers from 33 countries in the categories of industry, technology and cities. A cash prize of US$2,000 was awarded for each competition category to Carlos Aguiar from Angola (cities), Ahmed A Osman from Kenya (industry) and Mohsen Taha from Uganda (technology). Taha received an additional Grand Prize of US$2,000 for his photo of a boy holding a mobile phone as the overall competition winner.

“I’m proud to be a part of a competition that helps to promote the economic development happening right now in Africa,” said Taha, the grand prize winner. “This competition has allowed photographers to show the various aspects of Africa and how we have grown and developed into something different, and better. Six years ago, I couldn’t afford a mobile phone. Today in Uganda, everyone from rural to urban areas can afford one. These advancements are significant.”

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