United Nations World Tourism Organization [UNWTO], has formally confirmed Nigeria as the host of its 53rd meeting of the Commission for Africa [CAF] summit, a regional meeting for African Tourism Ministers according to information revealed by Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke.

The summit slated for Calabar, the Cross River State capital from June 25-27, this year under the theme; Responsible Tourism: Opportunities for Women and Youth, is expected to be attended by all 54 African countries and territories that are affiliate members of the UNWTO.

Duke who was at UNWTO headquarters in Madrid, Spain, for the executive council meeting of the global tourism monitoring organisation to brief the council on Nigeria’s preparation and readiness to host the summit, further noted that the ‘opportunity to host such an important, continental tourism ministers’ session will bring immense benefits not only for the industry but also for the country.

“The decision for Nigeria to host the meeting was taken last year in South Korea during the UNWTO General Assembly meeting,” said the minister who is also a member of the council.

Duke who disclosed that other countries that bid against Nigeria’s hosting of the meeting had cited insecurity as a challenge but the argument failed to dissuade UNWTO which ratified its earlier decision that awarded the country the hosting rights of the tourism conference. .

He said the hosting of the regional tourism confab will afford the country the opportunity to redefine its image, showcase itself as a place for conferences and exhibitions with warm people and clean environment.

“Apart from tourism ministers that are participating, top UNWTO officials, including its Secretary-General from its headquarters in Madrid, Spain, top government officials from the participating countries as well as state governors and stakeholders in Nigeria will also be in attendance,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, the Cross River State has accepted the request to host the event; with Governor Liyel Imoke saying that the UNWTO meeting is important to tourism development in the continent, and for Nigeria in particular.

Imoke said that the forum would be an opportunity for the state to share its vision with the rest of Africa and the global community.

Nigeria will be hosting the meeting for the second time in six years, with Abuja being the first to do so in 2008.

Nigeria has been actively taking part in the UNWTO activities as available records show that it was through similar active participation in the past that enabled a Nigerian, late Ignatius Amaduwa Atigbi to propose the marking of every September 27 as World Tourism Day, a feat that he was honoured for with a recognition award in 2009 by the UNWTO.

Nigeria’s interest in UNWTO activities has been rekindled with the election of the country’s current Tourism Minister Chief Edem Duke into the UN body’s Executive Council as he is also presently chairman of the CAF (Commission for Africa) Tourism Ministers.

The Executive Council is UNWTO’s governing board, responsible for ensuring that the organization carries out its work and adheres to its budget. The Council meets at least twice a year and is composed of Members elected by the General Assembly in a ratio of one for every ‎five Full Member.

Ministers of tourism and high-ranking officials have highlighted the role of tourism in addressing continuing challenges in the world economy, from a slowdown in growth to global unemployment.

The stakeholders reiterated this position at the just-concluded 93rd session of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Executive Council meeting which held in Madrid, Spain, from June 12-13.

“On this occasion, I would like to underscore the role of tourism as a creator of jobs in today’s difficult situation, especially among younger populations who find themselves unfairly denied access to the labour market,” said His Royal Highness Prince Felipe of Asturias, Spain, opening the 93rd session of the UNWTO Executive Council.

This message was echoed by the Spanish Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism, Jose Manuel Soria, who stated that despite the economic circumstances of 2011, tourism still accounted for over 10 per cent of Spanish GDP and was a major generator of employment in the Spanish economy.

“Despite the volatility of the global economy, international tourism continues to be one of the few sectors to grow,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “The economic opportunities of tourism are many and are reaching millions, but there is still so much more our sector can offer if we work together to reduce the barriers which continue to hamper tourism growth.”

Travel facilitation, in particular entry formalities, is chief among these barriers, continued Rifai, who called on the tourism officials from close to 60 countries attending the Executive Council to work towards removing barriers to travel as a means to stimulate the economy and job creation.

“My message today is simple,” said Rifai. “Tourism is a sector that can deliver like few others on the goals of economic growth, job creation and fairer development. We just need to put the right policies in place.”

Following the announcement of a new visa for visitors into Nigeria by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) Wednesday, in Abuja, the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC)  has described the move as a ‘bold step’ that should boost Nigeria’s inbound tourism.

Director General of NTDC, Olusegun Runsewe, who commended President Goodluck Jonathan and members of the Federal Executive Council for introducing the new visa policy, in a statement in Abuja, Thursday, said the introduction was long awaited as it would open the floodgate for inbound tourists who are desirous of visiting Nigeria.

“The introduction of new visa regime was a bold step that was long awaited as it would open the floodgate for inbound tourists who are desirous of visiting Nigeria,” said Runsewe.

Runsewe further noted that the tourism sub sector of the economy received the news with great joy and a sigh of relief as the country would derive huge benefit from the international tourist traffic particularly from Asia, Europe and the Americas.

“Our job has been made easier now as the old visa regime was seen as a great obstacle for potential tourists into Nigeria, as we always receive complaints each time we travel abroad on official engagements by foreigners about their inability to secure visas”,  he stated.

It would be recalled that the country’s highest decision-making body, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) Wednesday approved a new visa regime which aims at securing the nation’s borders, boosting tourism, attracting foreign direct investments and opening up the economy for employment opportunities.

Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, who made the disclosure at a media briefing on the outcome of the weekly FEC meeting in company of the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro stated that under the new visa  regime, some class of visitors would obtain their visas at the point of entry especially the international airports.

He stated further that depending on the purpose of the visit, foreigners coming into Nigeria are now to be issued visas under the following visa regime, short stay, long term of up to 10 years, temporary stay, permanent residence or the new category of investment or skill transfer visa.

Elucidating further, Moro said that the new visa regime has been approved by the Council, noting that the assumption and dynamics on the basis of which the nation’s old policy was based has changed in line with the realities of the times.

He noted that the recent security challenges facing the country, necessitates multifaceted approach to the problems including a very vital component of fighting internal security such as the mode of entry and exit to and fro the country.

So today, we have a new visa regime that contains some innovations in the sense that new elements are being introduced in line with the strategic interest of Nigeria and of course most other areas still have to be based on the principle of reciprocity. We have a visa policy in place now that is targeted at boosting tourism, attracting foreign direct investments, opening up the economy for employment opportunities and above all, a policy that seeks to secure our borders,” he stated.

Continuing, Moro said: “We now have visa at entry point. So, if a businessman, a tourist or a business delegation or a government delegation has reason to visit Nigeria at short notice to do business with Nigeria and if by any coincidence we don’t have embassy in such country, such delegation or group can come to Nigeria and obtain their visas at port of entry particularly at international airports. Of course, this is without prejudice to ensuring our internal security.

“We have short stay visa, long term visa up to 10 years, we have temporary stay visa, we have permanent resident visa and of course a new introduction now is that we have investment or skill transfer visa category. In this case, if you have a particular level of investment you want to make in Nigeria that can add value to the economy of the country, you can be given certain category of visa. In conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Labour if we classify certain skills as valuable to Nigeria that will don’t have here then we can on the basis of such skills grant you visa,” Moro stressed.

The Interior Minister regretted the non-enforcement of expatriate quota, saying that under the new visa regime, government has now introduced appropriate mechanism that will make it easier to monitor compliance.

World Travel Awards (WTA), the “Oscars of the travel industry,” has announced that the new Conrad Algarve will host its Europe Ceremony 2012 on October 6.

Senior representatives from Europe’s finest travel brands expected to attend the gala evening as they vie to win the most-coveted accolade in the industry, just as the WTA organizers highlight the contribution of the significance of hosting the event in the Algarve.

Graham E Cooke, President and Founder, WTA, said: “We are delighted to host our first ceremony in the Algarve, a decision that reflects the crucial role that tourism plays in the region and its overall contribution to the Portuguese economy.”

“The Algarve is also one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world, and the new Conrad Algarve will set a new precedent for luxury in the region. Our Europe Ceremony will provide a perfect forum to showcase its facilities to travel’s top decision-makers.”

The five-star resort enjoys a prime location at Quinta do Lago, the home of world-class golf courses and beautiful beaches, and on the doorstep of the famous Ria Formosa Natural Park.

Joachim Hartl, Hotel Manager, Conrad Algarve, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with World Travel Awards and showcasing our wonderful luxury property. Conrad Algarve, opening this summer, is a highly-anticipated luxury hotel opening – both in Portugal and wider Europe. The hotel will offer a premium luxury experience with a spectacular range of services and amenities, specifically designed to provide guests with remarkable and truly unforgettable luxury experiences.”

On his part, António Pina, Algarve Promotion Bureau and Algarve Tourism Board President, said: “It is with enormous pride that the Algarve hosts such a prestigious event as World Travel Awards. This will provide a unique opportunity to promote the region as a first-class destination, with its exceptional facilities and an enviable climate like no other country in Europe.”

The Europe Ceremony 2012 will mark the fourth leg of WTA’s Grand Tour, a global search for the world’s finest travel brands, which also includes regional heats in Dubai, Turks & Caicos, Nairobi, and Singapore. The winners of these regional heats will progress to the Grand Final, which will take place at The Oberoi, Gurgaon, New Delhi, India, on December 1, this year.

Global aviation monitoring and regulatory body, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Tuesday named Cape Town, in South Africa, as host city for the forthcoming 69th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit (WATS) scheduled for June 2 to 4.

The event will draw top leadership from the global air transport industry to Cape Town’s International Convention Centre next year. “South Africa will be a great location for the 2013 AGM and WATS. Air connectivity is key to South Africa’s economic success, contributing 2.1% to the country’s GDP,” said Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO of IATA.

“Along with supporting South Africa’s strong tourism sector, air connectivity plays a critical role in maximizing growth opportunities arising from South Africa’s BRICS membership and the burgeoning African economy,” Tyler said.

This year’s AGM and WATS in Beijing attracted some 750 airline industry leaders representing IATA’s 242 member airlines. It drew a further 350 journalists representing major media outlets from around the world.

South African Airways is set to be host airline to the conference and hopes to address, amongst other issues, air travel safety in Africa.

“Direct air access to and from key source markets and developing markets remains a critical issue for Cape Town. Ease of entry to our destination is essential to stimulate and sustain Cape Town’s tourism sector and this is a conversation that needs to happen in tandem with airline partners. The hosting of this conference is an excellent opportunity for Cape Town to showcase our multi-faceted destination whilst also contributing to our reputation as a 365-day business destination,” said Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, the Cape Town Tourism CEO.

Africa Travel Association (ATA), the world’s leading travel industry trade association promoting tourism to Africa, held its 37th Annual Congress in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, from May 18 to 22 with over 500 delegates from government, business, and the non-profit sectors in attendance at the hallmark event in Africa.

Held under the theme; “Africa Tourism: Partnering for the Future,” the conference focused on how tourism, with growth rates in emerging markets outperforming more established destinations, has become one of the most promising industries on the African continent for development.

South African Airways served as Presenting Sponsor and Official Congress Carrier, and Arik Air served as Official Media Carrier.

“Our 37th Congress has been a real success with significant outcomes that will have a positive impact on the tourism industry in Zimbabwe and across Africa,” said Edward Bergman, ATA Executive Director, “Now more than ever, the tourism industry has a greater ability to affect lives and contribute to positive growth and development, and ATA is pleased to be at the heart of this process.”

Delegates included five tourism ministers from Central African Republic, Ghana, Namibia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, along with government representatives from Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Togo, and Zambia, and hundreds of participants from around the world.

The Congress was hosted by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) under the auspices of the Honorable Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Walter Mzembi. ATA government members elected Minister Mzembi as the new President of the association at the ATA board meeting on the final day of the congress.

The Congress kicked off with ATA’s third annual Young Professionals Program Forum at the Elephant Hills Hotel. Students, young professionals and industry leaders from the tourism and hospitality sector came together to discuss the most pressing issues for young professionals in the industry. Topics included harnessing social media to promote African tourism, rural tourism development, and the ethics of sustainability and ecological integrity.

Ministers from Central African Republic, Ghana, Namibia, Togo, and Zimbabwe participated in the Tourism Ministers’ Roundtable. Everyone agreed that the benefits of tourism could be strengthened if African governments collaborated more closely with each other and the private sector over a number of issues, including connectivity, visas, branding, and packaging products. The importance of integrating local community into tourism programs was also stressed.

Highlight of the congress was the Zimbabwe Culture Night, where ATA announced the recipients of ATA’s annual awards were announced.

The recipients of the Outstanding Service to the Association awards were Hon. Mzembi (MP), Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry of Zimbabwe; Karikoga Kaseke; Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA); Tesa Chikaponya, Executive Director of Destination Marketing at ZTA; and Evelyn Chidyausiku, US Representative of ZTA. Robert Brunner, Vice President of the Americas for Arik Air International Ltd., received the Outstanding Leadership Award; and Dr. Yohannes Zeleke, President of the ATA Mid-Atlantic Chapter, received the ATA Founder’s Award. Chef Pierre Thiam and Chef Eric Simeon received the Development of Responsible Tourism in Africa awards and ATA outgoing President, Hon. Fatou Mas Jobe-Njie, Minister of Tourism and Culture of The Gambia, received the Promotion of Responsible Tourism to Africa Award. Finally, Andrea Papitto, Vice President of Thinking Forward Media, received the Young Professionals Leadership award.

On the fringes of the just-concluded African Development Bank’s Annual Meetings in Arusha, Tanzania, the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) also launched its second Africa Capacity Indicators Report (ACIR) to a pan African audience.

This year’s report is on the theme: Capacity Development for Agricultural Transformation and Food Security.  It follows the inaugural ACIR 2011 – Capacity Development in Fragile States, which was launched in February 2011 in Kigali, Rwanda.

Both the 2011 and 2012 ACI Reports have been generously supported by the United Nations Development Programme and the AfDB. In 2013, the third flagship ACIR will focus on ‘Capacity Development for Natural Resources Management’.

The AfDB Annual Meetings provided a timely opportunity to mobilise Africa’s policy makers and development partners on the importance of adopting innovative solutions to the challenges facing Africa. The 2012 ACIR,  was earlier unveiled to a global audience in London, UK and Washington, USA, in collaboration with the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the World Bank Institute, respectively.

Since its inception, the ACIR has aimed to measure and empirically assess capacity in relation to the development agenda in African countries. It also highlights key determinants and components of capacity for development and how they can be measured. While there is increasing optimism about Africa’s development prospects – there still are remaining pockets of challenges that need addressing. Understanding the root causes, impediments, and enablers of Africa’s development requires timely and evidence-based data and analysis. Transcending physical achievement to also gauge achievement in final outcomes requires indicators that can measure progress in quantitative and qualitative ways.

The launch event in Arusha presented a platform to not only further highlight the findings of the 2012 Report, but also to share experiences and best practice on policies that work to enhance agriculture transformation and food security. It also helped to increase awareness of the various dimensions of the problem of food insecurity on the continent.

Speaking at the ACIR launch in Arusha, ACBF Executive Secretary, Dr Frannie Léautier, highlighted the main objectives of the roundtable discussion, moderated by Professor Korbla P. Puplampu, Chair of the Department of Sociology at Grant Mac Ewan University in Canada. Joining the Executive Secretary on the panel were Mr Willard Manungo, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Finance representing Hon. Tendai Biti, Minister of Finance, Republic of Zimbabwe and Professor Newman Kusi, Special Advisor to the Minister of Finance, Republic of Ghana.

“The aim of this panel”, said Dr Léautier “has been to provide a platform for discussion and exchange of information, knowledge and experiences on capacity development for agricultural development and food security in Africa. ACIR comes at a time when there is high demand for good data on assessing capacity. – whether it is the capacity to implement complex infrastructure programs, the capacity to attract private sector, investment, or even the capacity to generate jobs and utilise the talents of young people.  This report focuses on capacity to transform agriculture and it is our hope that the outcomes will improve the overall design and implementation of policies to improve development outcomes and results”.

The panel focussed primarily on increasing the awareness of state and non-state actors of the various dimensions of agricultural transformation and food security, in order for them to be fully considered in the design of policies. The gathering brought together experts and decision makers concerned with the problem of agricultural change and food security to facilitate exchange of lessons and experiences.

By fostering a shared vision on capacity for the continent and improving understanding of the state of capacity development in Africa, ACBF aims to enhance understanding about these important issues, thereby increasing the ownership and buy-in by key stakeholders on the findings  of the report and computed indices.

“The overall goal is ultimately to develop and strengthen strategic partnerships to support initiatives in this area”, Dr Léautier concluded, adding that ACBF expected participants to put into good use the acquired information and knowledge to develop better solutions to the problem of agricultural transformation and food security on the African continent.

Airtel Nigeria unveils 2GoodTime

Posted: June 11, 2012 in general

Telecommunications services provider in Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria, Monday, re-launched its flagship 2Good plan with extra and distinctive benefits which allows customers choose from amongst three time bands during which they can connect family, friends and business associates at pocket friendly on net rate of 10k/sec.

Tagged 2Good Time, the three special time bands are: Traffic Time – 5amto 7am; Lunch Time – 1pm to 4pm and Party Time – 10pm to 12.00am. During these time bands, customer will enjoy special on net call rate of 10k/sec.

Subscribers to the 2Good Time service will also enjoy midnight on net call rate of 10k/sec as well as 20 free SMS on their first N100 recharge of the month.

Speaking on the value offering, at the event which held in Ikeja, Lagos, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director, Airtel Nigeria Deepak Srivastava said that the company will continue to offer innovative, flexible and affordable value offerings that will meet the growing demands and needs of all its customers.

“The 2Good Time tariff plan with its three options of Traffic Time, Lunch Time and Party Time with a uniform on-net call rate of N10k/sec will come in handy for our customers to select the most suitable time of the day to share love with family and friends, or close deals with business associates via voice and SMS.

“This is in addition to the special attraction of 2Good such as low international call rate, free 20 monthly complementary SMS, 20k/sec flat on net / off net call rate. With this, 2Good comes bigger, better and even more pocket friendly,” Srivastava said.

To subscribe to the Traffic Time service class, customers are to dial *555*1#. Those who prefer the Lunch Time or Party Time options are to dial *555*2# and *555*3#, respectively.

The first migration into any of the 2Good Time service class in a month is free while subsequent migrations within a given month will attract N100.00 charge.

Customers can get further information on the Airtel 2Good Time service via MAMO free interactive voice service on 141; call customer care tool-free lines 111 or 121; inquire about the service in any of the company’s sales outlet nation-wide or visit http://www.ng.airtel.com , http://www.facebook.com/pages/Airtel-Nigeria or http://www.twitter.com/airtelnigeria.

The South- South geo-political zone is set to become a trailblazer in the quest by state groupings to build regional capacities that would engender rapid socio-economic development.

This is coming against the backdrop of the identification of the fact that attaining regional economic integration and putting the private sector on the driver’s seat remained key objectives for economic sustainability, thus necessitating a properly coordinated private sector participation from inception.

However what is apparent since the first summit, and now a second, is that there is yet no organized system for evaluating each summit by stakeholders on sectoral basis, with a view to determining how the key summit issues played out. Such is what enables a better repositioning of the critical factors, as well as building the required synergy for progress.

2.        What was expected from the elaborate accreditation formalities for the Summits was that the Summit secretariat would retain the capacity for sustained contact with participants based on their sectoral groupings in order to obtain feedbacks, such as would even put stakeholders in syndicated network and a generally sustained focus on relevant outcomes or issues for follow up.  It was also expected that each State contingent comprising both public and private sector stakeholders would have prior concerted interface on issues for the summit, with possibly a common or dialectical position paper; and would therefore sooner regroup after each summit under that aegis to review and further harness the gains, as well as strategizing on the next.

3.        As one of the Private Sector participants from the tourism industry, it was observed that our participation was not coordinated by the respective State Government, even though we were self sponsored. Considering the aforesaid fundamental objectives or guiding principles of the summit, all the participating State governments should have been required to coordinate the participation of their relevant private sector counterparts on a sectoral basis, so as to be able to build the required synergies. Furthermore, key members of the private sector as in the Nigerian Tourism Federation (FTAN) should have been given some relevance in generating inputs for an appropriate sectoral agenda for the summit, since the aim of the summit is to build the right synergies that would put the Private Sector on the driver’s seat. Adequate sensitization and coordination of the relevant private sector professional groupings through their state governments should have preceded each summit, even while creating room for independent stakeholders. Such would provide the setting for attaining a paradigm needed for shaping common policy issues, while still giving room for divergent views.

4. The suggested regrouping of participants after each summit on State, sectoral or professional basis should therefore be a necessary follow-up, so as to be able to harness and build on its gains, in line with the spirit of Public Private Sector Partnership (PPP). State and regional summits on sectoral basis should therefore become the norm, but attempts at convening a South-South Regional Tourism stakeholders’ summit after the first Summit in 2009 did not receive the required institutional support. Such should now be orchestrated by the BRACED Commission.

5. With the setting up of the BRACED Commission, a proactive mechanism should be put in place for obtaining inputs from participants and relevant stakeholders, beginning with the review of the previous one. Of particular interest is developing the summit agenda and sub-themes, so as to be able to focus on the pertinent and germane issues for each sector or sub-sector, rather than a tunnel view of some issues that may not be critical or lead to a paradigm shift, as required in the wide and complex tourism sector. My long canvassed position in the tourism sector identifies both heritage conservation and community tourism as two most critical areas for both preliminary and sustained focus.

In line with actualizing the NEPAD Tourism Action Plan, there are many sub-themes dovetailing from these key issues, such as developing technical capacities to bridge knowledge gaps, activating Local Government Tourism Committees – which form the foundation of the national tourism structure (the products reside at that level), and developing a regional tourism master plan that compensates for the apparent short-changing of this region in the national tourism master plan.

6. The dual issues of agenda setting and follow-ups are critical if we are to move the summit from the deceptive ritual of fanfare, in which there is all motion but no movement, such as in making lofty policy statements without follow-up mechanisms, if indeed we seek to defy the endemic syndrome of underdevelopment in this clime. Disappointingly, our tourism agenda at nearly every fora has remained almost fixated with hospitality services as in hotel development and the premature obsession with marketing our poorly developed – or yet to be developed, tourism products. There is no gainsaying that our cultural and ecological heritage that form the building blocks of tourism products are seriously threatened with extinction or loss of integrity, making them a primary tourism issue for the summit, since the tourism products may have lost their originality and clearly not prepared for the market place. Sadly too, what our so-called tourism experts regularly bring to the few opportunities for tourism discourse are usually statistics as to how tourism has grown economies, with long abstracts on the history of tourism and extolling foreign models that are impossible of transplant. If tourism fora, especially workshops, are preceded by call for papers that are reviewed in advance, stakeholders would be saved from boring and time wasting papers from expired text books that have been unable to inspire professionals and practitioners alike.

7. At the first Summit in 2009, one such paper took so much of the time for the only breakout session, with the presenter being made to summarize and round off after patience had been exhausted and much of the little available time had been lost. This time around, there was no room for a breakout session for tourism, which defeats some of the main reasons why some of us take the pains to attend the summit. From all that was heard during the keynote address on tourism and panel discussions in the Asaba summit, there is a new fixation with entertainment (Nollywood) and the visual arts. Of course the Minister ramble about foreign models, statistics, including the idea that convening his foreign counterparts in Abuja would make a big statement. Also, as usual, his main viewpoint was how to grow more hotel rooms.

8. For the umpteenth time, these areas of focus above would seem as issues for mere rhetoric or lines of least resistance. As mentioned earlier, we have been long fixated with hotel development and catering schools since our nation’s independence, when in fact the hospitality sector is really meant to be a supporting infrastructure and not the main tourism products. Even with the frequent foreign trips by our tourism administrators and expensive resort to foreign experts, there has been no paradigm shift to reach the realization that our main challenges in tourism development are not with hospitality services or even the poorly maintained heritage attractions, but the socio-cultural settings requiring re-engineering, regeneration and transformation. Even where experts with little local knowledge or cultural relevance have been engaged in developing tourism master plans, these are now permanently consigned to the drawing board or office cabinets for lack of appropriate clues on surmounting these socio-cultural challenges. Some States have even veered off by developing expensive physical infrastructure and facilities amounting to relative overcapitalization, with little effect for rebranding and tourist arrivals.

9. However, what is being canvassed here is actually the need for a template for community tourism development that would serve as a spring board for social transformation and civic renewal. The template should be such that virtually all professions would find relevance and come to life. The architects will give designs for new culturally relevant village/cityscapes, historians will compose the origins, evolution, experiences and myths of communities; nutritionists would need to repackage our ingredients for better presentation and health benefits, many occupations would need revamping, and so on. Also, roles for developing child rearing and learning skills, mentoring for increasing incomes of rural communities, traditional recreation, language development for improved interaction with foreign ones, habitat upgrading models, etc, while retaining our cultural integrity.

There is also great need for developing leadership and volunteering skills at local levels, including community programs on health, safety, ecological and disaster management issues. These should all be designed as pilot schemes in tourism and social extension that should be commissioned through relevant consultants and NGOs, all to be able to create a tourism friendly environment for the region. These are not the usual human capacity development programs to be held in conference rooms alone but taken to the grassroots where they are self propagating. The BRACED Commission must wake up to begin the hosting of sectoral summits such as in tourism, agriculture, security, industry, etc, and to fashion an action plan with a timeline, using relevant experts, and stakeholders as applies to these key sectors under focus.

10. One administrative issue carried over from the first summit is that copies of several papers that were presented but not be circulate to participants by the summit secretariat were be posted to our email boxes.  Even with the confidence reposed on that summit organizing chairman Prof Pat Utomi who made that promise, it was not kept and we had no further communication on it. It must not go without mention that the standard of the maiden summit should become the benchmark for any other one, otherwise we cannot claim any resolve to be engendering progress if standards are easily compromised. In Calabar, the facilities and welfare arrangements were excellent, as well as the quality and number of experts. In this last one it would seem there was excessive patronage of government functionaries. Though it is important that these be made to talk to the biting issues, the views from the foreign resource persons usually provided superior, arresting and fresher perspectives, rather than  the all too familiar lines of excuses for non-performance that we get from our functionaries.

 

11. A worthy consideration is that should there be cause for limited participation in the future summits, in view of possible facility or logistical constraints, the sustained contact with participants should provide parameters with which to filter those to be given priority attendance, particularly strategic interest groups, in order to build the right capacities. A Summit can attract quite a large audience but this last one in Asaba was said to have reached numbers between 4, 500 and 6,000 participants, making it look more like a convention, thus unwieldy and putting undue pressure on facilities. Also on this score, there is a saying by Carl Jung that the effectiveness of a group is inversely proportional to its size.

12. In conclusion, that there is need for every State in the South-South region to give leadership in areas of comparative advantage cannot be discountenanced. This is the guiding spirit of the Niger Delta Master Plan, which should also be applied to the summit and BRACED States. Each State in the region should therefore have a well articulated perspective for relevant issues for the summit based on areas of relative advantage, along with Action Plans covering both short and long term visions.

Such is what stakeholders, especially practitioners, would need as a road map or guide for orchestrating the required level of awareness needed to mobilize investments and building the right synergy. It is my sincere hope that these and many other critical issues would be thrashed out at the appropriate fora; and that optimum collaboration would be engendered in this quest to achieve common objectives for the progress of the South- South region.

 

Courtesy Andy O. Ehanire (Tourism Consultant/ Tourism Activist in Benin).

African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and the African Export and Import Bank (AfrExim Bank) last Thursday in Arusha, Tanzania, formally signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), aimed at strengthening their collaboration on various capacity building initiatives in Africa. The Agreement recognises the common areas interest in fostering sustainable capacity for African countries.

In signing this MoU, the two institutions agreed to join efforts in supporting inter-African trade, by strengthening institutional capacity for export development, building capacity for research, policy formulation and implementation of think tanks. Private sector organisations in the targeted countries will also be included in the focus areas, in order to uncover innovation in effective economic integration, inter-African trade and export development.

Speaking at the MoU signing, held on the fringes of the AfDB annual Meetings in Arusha, Tanzania, ACBF Executive Secretary, Dr Frannie Léautier highlighted that ACBF would make its current portfolio, as well as its pipeline of capacity development initiatives in Africa available to AfrExim Bank in order for the Bank to consider co-financing programmes and projects of mutual interests.

“By working together to enhance capacity in African Trade Finance, this collaboration will not only improve the management of trade finance, but there will also be a knowledge management aspect to the partnership, through the joint organisation of seminars, workshops and other knowledge sharing events for public sector and among umbrella private sector organisations. A key output will be the publication of a Journal of Trade.”

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr Jean-Louis Ekra, President and Chairman of the Board of AfrExim Bank said that the agreement underpins the Bank’s strategic focus on leveraging partnerships, in order to complement and supplement ongoing efforts at addressing human resource capacity gaps on the continent. He highlighted that “through strategic partnerships and collaboration, our two institutions will be able to create the necessary synergies for the creation of the requisite human and institutional capabilities to support economic growth and development in Africa, by leveraging and pooling our individual technical expertise.”

ACBF has extensive experience working on Africa’s developmental challenges and has an established regional network of partners that are able to carry out capacity development programmes in a sustainable manner, while on its part, AfrExim Bank is an African regional institution that provides trade finance facilities to promote intra-African trade and to encourage African countries to trade internationally. By partnering to mitigate country risks in Africa, the two institutions are expected to create synergies, through joint support for economic policy analysis and management and other capacity development initiatives.

ACBF and AfrExim Bank are complementary in contributing to the mitigation of country risks, as the Bank provides Country Risk Guarantees to enhance the credit of African borrowers, whereas ACBF contributes to better economic policy formulation and management on the continent.

ACBF was established in February 1991. It is the outcome of collaboration between African governments and the international donor community. Its mission is to build sustainable human and institutional capacity for sustainable growth and poverty reduction in Africa. ACBF’s vision is for Africa to be recognised for its socio-political and economic capabilities and endowments – a continent with effective institutions and policies acquired through sustained investment in people and institutions. The Foundation is a leader, major partner and centre of excellence for capacity building in Africa.

The African Union currently serves as an Observer on the ACBF Board of Governors.