Public Sector: Portland wins brief with Africa group

Portland PR is to handle worldwide comms for the Africa Progress Panel (APP), chaired by Kofi Annan.

The APP was established after the 2007 Gleneagles summit to encourage world leaders to honour commitments to Africa, and to support African countries' efforts to reform. It includes among its members former UK prime minister Tony Blair and Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.

Portland's international affairs unit has been retained by the APP to provide strategic advice and worldwide implementation for the panel's international comms in 2009.

The agency's head of international affairs Toby Orr said: '2009 will be a critical year to keep world leaders' focus on Africa. With the impact of the credit crunch at home, it's vital we don't lose sight of the commitments made abroad.'

The international affairs unit was launched 12 months ago and is also working for the Mo Ibrahim Foundation - a body that promotes African leadership.

The APP is partly funded by the Department for International Development and receives a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

It is at the forefront of efforts to highlight the implications of the current financial crisis for the continent's emerging economies. During the next year, Portland will support the APP's work to see that Africa's case remains on the agenda of the G8 and G20. The UK office will be supported by Portland's partners in Brussels, Tokyo and Washington.

This brief follows an initial project Portland handled for the APP in the summer, when the agency supported the launch of the panel's 2008 State of Africa report.

The G8-wide comms campaign to support this launch, conducted on the eve of the Hokkaido Summit, raised awareness of the $40bn shortfall in aid pledged by the G8 nations to Africa, as well as highlighting the need to tackle the food crisis in Africa.

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