AMRA Launch Exceeds Expectations!

Africa Forum 2017 saw the launch of the much anticipated African Market Research Association (AMRA) in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 16 and 17 February 2017. More than 120 delegates from 26 countries across Africa and the rest of the globe gathered in Johannesburg to celebrate the African insights industry, challenge the status quo, share experiences and learn from thought leaders about research innovations that work in Africa.

“The four year old AMRA dream became a reality during the two-day engagement. The pride in that achievement was evident. The spirit of Africa came alive through the diversity of presentations delivered, the many countries represented, the stories shared, the networks formed, the friends made.” says Jane Nzomo, AMRA Director for Eastern Africa and Managing Director of Consumer Options Ltd in Kenya.

Serge Mumbu from Target SARL Research and Consulting in the Democratic Republic of Congo agrees: “I welcomed the association with great enthusiasm because Africa could not remain behind in terms of forming a market research association. Professionals from many parts of the globe, including Asia-Pacific and Latin America, have already come together to promote best practice in market research and it was time for Africa to do the same, in a part of the globe that is increasingly attracting investors and multinationals because of positive growth and strong demographics”, making reference to the large potential market in Africa.

More than a third of all African countries were represented at the event, exceeding all expectations. The event was a joint effort of AMRA and the African market research associations AMISE (Morocco), MSRA (Kenya), NiMRA (Nigeria) and SAMRA (Southern Africa), and ESOMAR, the world research association, making it a truly African forum of international standing.  According to Temoiganage Nourou Aya, speaker and REM Africa delegate from Niger, “It was just fantastic! …AMRA Africa Forum 2017 brought together a miniature Africa.”

Beyond the African continent, the event had an international dimension, most notably through the participation of and well-received keynote addresses by ESOMAR’s Director General, Finn Raben about the value of research, and Berenike Ullman, Vice-President, Consumer and Market Knowledge, for Procter and Gamble IMEA (India, Middle East and Africa) about the transformation of Africa.

The high level client engagement at the event was noticeable, and one of the many highlights was indeed the clients’ panel discussion, facilitated by Sami Ghabrial, AMRA Director for North East Africa. The panel was tasked with answering two critical questions: what are the challenges clients are currently facing, and how can research help?

“It was really a great eye opener experience! Africa has numerous research opportunities that our industry is greatly underestimating. Clients see market research information in Africa as a scarce resource in the most needed area, and requesting research teams with analytical capabilities to take an immediate step forward” says Ghabrial, who is also Managing Director at Marketeers Research in Cairo, Egypt.

There was ample networking amongst clients and suppliers from the insights industry. Aya summarises his experience as follows: “Participants exchanged as if family during the coffee breaks, luncheons or networking dinners. Even though many delegates were meeting for the first time, it was like they had been friends for many years. By the end of the two days of networking, partnerships had been formed and these are already in the process of becoming reality.” In terms of great networking, Mumbu reiterates that “This has been both a great networking opportunity (lots of business cards were exchanged and contacts made)” and adds that the event was also a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the evolution of the African insights industry.

Leonie Vorster, AMRA Director for Southern Africa, says that, with the inaugural Africa Forum, AMRA’s work has only just begun “to truly take our rightful place on the global stage of the insights industry, and, indeed, as a continent. We will have succeeded when there is a strong and unique voice for and from Africa; when there is measurable growth in the African insights industry and we adhere to world-class research standards; when there is a significant African body of knowledge in and about the insights industry, that is ‘exported’ to the rest of the world; when cost-effective, value-adding research is the norm in Africa for clients across the globe.” AMRA is the voice of the insights industry in Africa, aiming to ensure industry standards in Africa, and to promote market research, including social research, opinion polling and data analytics, within Africa and to the rest of the world.

The next Africa Forum will be held in Nairobi, Kenya on 22 and 23 February 2018. According to Aya, “We cherish the memory of this wonderful event and hope that the memory will last. With this historic launching of the activities of the African Market Research Association, the insights industry in Africa has a bright future.” A bright future indeed!

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