Top radio personality, Dan Foster and Nollywood A-list actress, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, along with Port Harcourt-based ace-comedian, Yibo Koko, have been named the three judges to steer the first ever Nigeria’s Got Talent reality TV show sponsored by leading telecoms operator, Airtel Nigeria.

In addition to the three personalities, Andre Blaze, one of the youngest ‘veterans’ of Nigerian electronic media was announced as the show’s presenter, during a special ceremony at its corporate head office in Banana Island, Lagos.

Speaking at the event, Chief Operating Officer of Airtel, Mr. Deepak Srivastava said the company remains focused in its resolve to adding value to the lives of Nigerians, reiterating that the Nigeria Got Talent platform provides yet another great opportunity to empower and entertain Nigerians.

“The choice of the three veterans who are well versed in the creative arts would further create the right excitement, fun and intrigues that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats and provide healthy discourse among family members, friends, loved ones and even colleagues in the workplaces every single day till the star winner emerges in the grand finale few weeks to Christmas,” Srivastava said.

“The icing on the cake,” Srivastava, continued, “is that we have also introduced the NGT SMS Trivia that would enable Nigerians win fantastic prizes including a daily prize of N200,000, weekly prize of N1,000,000 and a grand prize of N5 million.”

To participate in the trivia which is open to both Airtel customers and those on other networks, subscribers are to send the keyword TALENT to the short code 33685 to register.

On registration, customers will receive questions and when answered, earn points. The more questions answered guarantees participants additional points.

Airtel Nigeria, in June, announced the sponsorship of the Nigeria’s Got Talent Television Show aimed at providing a solid platform for the nation’s youth to actualize their dreams with their talents which could lead them to fame and fortune, with a star prize of N10 Million Naira for the ultimate winner of the show.

At the recently concluded regional auditioning across the country, over 4,000 Nigerians registered for participation out of which over 40 different acts, including a 60 year old singer, emerged for the qualifying rounds.

The Nigeria Got Talent show is a concept borne out of the need to promote hidden talents amongst Nigerians who aspire to earn a living via the entertainment business to unearth their hidden talents that would otherwise remain unnoticed by providing a platform for them to hone these talents and attain stardom.

Nigeria is the second African country aside South Africa to hold a franchise for the global reality show which currently holds in several countries in Europe and the United States, including Australia and some Asian countries.

The Nigerian Got Talent show broadcast commences on Sunday, September 16 on the following terrestrial TV stations; NTA, AIT, STV and TVC as well as on DStv and hiTV UK, Satellite stations.

This year, Hilton HHonors, the loyalty program for Hilton Worldwide’s 10 distinct hotel brands, celebrates its 25th anniversary. Since the first member joined in 1987, HHonors has grown to more than 30 million members worldwide, offering more ways to earn and redeem points than any other guest-loyalty programme.

To celebrate its anniversary, Hilton HHonors will be rewarding members throughout the next two months with the 25 Million Point Giveaway and the 25 Days of Winning sweepstakes.

Now through September 18, 2012, the 25 Million Point Giveaway will award one member each day with 1 million HHonors points, along with dozens of runner-up, instant-win prizes including HHonors points, gift cards and prize packages from Hilton Worldwide’s 10 hotel brands. Members can enter to win daily on the Hilton HHonors Facebook page at

The anniversary celebration continues with the 25 Days of Winning sweepstakes from October 1 to 25, 2012. Every day for 25 days, HHonors members will be encouraged to visit for a chance to win exceptional prizes, from a New Year’s Eve getaway to Times Square, New York to HHonors Diamond status for a year. Beyond the sweepstakes, many of the prizes are also available for purchase with Hilton HHonors points, through the global HHonors Shopping Mall or HHonors Experience Rewards.

“As a company, it was always our goal to build an industry-leading loyalty program, but it’s because of our loyal members that Hilton HHonors has grown into the awarding-winning program it is today,” said Jeff Diskin, senior vice president, global customer marketing, Hilton Worldwide. “I am proud of the milestones we have surpassed over these 25 years and we look forward to continuing to earn the loyalty of frequent travellers.”

Hilton HHonors now enables members to create experiences worth sharing at more than 3,800 hotels in 91 countries.

Umbrella body of private sector practitioners in global tourism industry, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has announced invitations to tourism businesses, organisations, and destinations worldwide to apply for its prestigious Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.

According to WTTC, applicants for 2013 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards should demonstrate how they are actively engaged in a successful programme of sustainable tourism practices and management, including maximising social and economic benefits for local people.

Each year, the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards recognise global leadership in sustainable tourism best practices. Due to its rigorous three-step judging process involving 22 independent expert judges from all around the world, and including an on-site evaluation of all award finalists, the Awards have become one of the highest accolades in the global Travel & Tourism industry.

“Applicants should demonstrate how they are actively engaged in a successful programme of sustainable tourism practices and management, including maximising social and economic benefits for local people, reducing negative impacts to the environment, and supporting the protection of cultural and natural heritage in destinations where they operate.

“Award applicants may enter in one of four Award categories: Global Tourism Business, Conservation, Community Benefit, and Destination Stewardship and can submit their entries online at until 26 November 2012, “said the organization.

“The Travel & Tourism industry has immense influencing power and has the potential to raise awareness and initiate action on the sustainability agenda among consumers, employees, and governments,” said David Scowsill, President & CEO of WTTC.

With its ninth year under WTTC stewardship, the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are rewarding top sustainable tourism practices globally. These are outstanding examples, reaching new heights in the world’s sustainable tourism advancement.”

Finalists and winners receive complimentary flights and accommodation and will be recognised during a gala Awards ceremony which takes place alongside WTTC’s Global Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE on 9 April 2013, attended by Travel & Tourism industry leaders, government representatives and members of the international media.

Costas Christ, Chairman of Judges, stated: “A tremendous amount of work goes into the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards each year. These Awards are truly global in nature, with a team of nearly two dozen judges from all around the world, ranging from indigenous tourism leaders to international sustainable tourism experts, and hailing from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe.

“One day there will be no need for Awards that recognise sustainable tourism best practices. Care for local people and the planet will simply be a part of how every tourism business operates. Until then, the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are shining a light on the sustainable tourism visionaries of today that are helping to lead the way forward.”

In 2012 ‘Destination Røros,’ won in the Destination Stewardship category, ‘Saunders Hotel Group’ won the Community Benefit Award, ‘Inkaterra Peru’ won the Conservation Award and ‘Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts’ won the Global Tourism Business Award.

Recovery in the hospitality sector gathered speed with a 4 per cent increase in the first half of 2012 but average prices remain at 2005 level. According to latest’s Hotel Price Index, for the first time in five years, travellers paid more on average for their hotel rooms during the first six months of 2012 in all parts of the world.

The global 4 per cent rise, compared to the same period the year before, demonstrated that the economic recovery in the hotel industry was well-established, said the report, adding that the Index stood at 108 for this period meaning that, despite the latest increase, hotel prices in general were still considerably lower than in the first half of 2007 when the HPI was at its peak of 119.

Launched in 2004, the HPI looks at prices that people actually paid for their hotel rooms around the world. During the first six months of 2012, prices rose across the board with Pacific rates up 6 per cent, North America up 5 per cent and Asia up 4 per cent while Latin America as well as Europe and the Middle East experienced a slower trajectory, up 1 per cent.

“The hotel industry bounced back in the first half of this year from a number of natural and political crises in 2011 and it is encouraging to see growth in the sector. While initially it may not seem good news for consumers, hotel prices are still only around their 2005 level, representing great value for travellers when both wages and other prices have risen considerably,” David Roche, said President,

Following the turmoil of the Arab Spring in early 2011, confidence returned to much of the Middle East and North Africa and hotel prices rose accordingly.

The same was true in Asia as the Japanese began to travel again after the turbulence of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in March 2011 but there were other factors at play here as well. The significant increase in the number of Chinese international travellers helped to drive rates higher and expansion by the region’s low cost carriers, such as Peach Aviation and Scoot, also boosted travel.

In the United States, increasing business travel combined with higher consumer spending meant hotels were busier with less need for discounting. In the Pacific, the resources boom in Australia meant that space was at a premium, particularly in Western Australia with international business visitors vying with mining executives for rooms.

Although rates rose as a whole in Europe, the results showed a mixed picture. One of the areas where prices dropped was in parts of the Eurozone where falling consumer confidence and spending power led to lower occupancy in the major cities and holiday hotspots.

David Roche said: “The first six months of 2012 have proved a promising start for most hotels. However, the second half of the year, with increasingly mixed economic signals, will be interesting to watch. What our regular Hotel Price Index gives consumers is a good guide as to where they can make the most of their travel budget, no matter what outside influences are impacting prices.”

Global hotel chain, the Rezidor group has announced plans for a Radisson Blu Hotel Cotonou in Benin republic. The first class property featuring 203 guest rooms is scheduled to open in Q2 2014.

“We are delighted to add the Republic of Benin to our country list. It is the 71st country where we are present, and our 21st country in Africa”, said Kurt Ritter, President & CEO of Rezidor. The emerging market of Africa is one of Rezidor’s key focus areas for future business development: The group operates 21 hotels across the continent, and has another 27 properties with more than 10,000 rooms under development. Rezidor’s pipeline in Sub-saharan African is the largest of the hospitality industry.

“We have witnessed the growth of Radisson Blu across West Africa, and we are excited to be working with Carlson Rezidor in bringing this first class Radisson Blu hotel to Cotonou”, said Aliou Adamon, President of Akaka Hotel Resort SA, the real estate owner of the mixed use development which will include the Radisson Blu Hotel Cotonou.

The newly build Radisson Blu hotel is located in Cotonou, the largest city and financial hub of Benin, and is designed to be an urban resort due to its location directly on the beach.

All 203 rooms will offer a spectacular view over the Atlantic Ocean and feature Radisson Blu signature services such as free high speed internet access. During the week, the hotel will mainly operate as a business hotel attracting corporate guests and conference delegate whilst over the weekends and holidays it will change into a beach resort attracting West African leisure guests. The hotel will provide seven food and beverage outlets including three restaurants, a cafe and three bars. It will also offer the largest meeting and conferencing facilities in the country, totaling over 1,600sqm, including a ballroom of 1,200sqm and several smaller meeting rooms. Leisure facilities include two outdoor swimming pools, a gym, a wellness centre and beach activities.

The hotel forms part of a larger mixed-use development comprising the largest shopping centre in Benin, a diagnostic centre and residential apartments. These additional facilities are all part of the same estate and expected to attract visitors both locally and regional for shopping, entertainment and medical reasons which will benefit the hotel.

Poor examination results by students in Junior Secondary (JS3) and Senior Secondary (SS3) levels  across the country would soon be a thing of the past following the intervention of leading telecommunications service provider, Airtel Nigeria and a new technology distribution company, Buyright Africa Dotcom, to unveil a winning formula for students’ success tagged the Airtel Zinox Whizkid2 bundle offer’.

The Zinox Whizkid2 which, has consistently produced 91 per cent success average in the past 2 years, comes standard with Windows 7 Starter, is embedded with an Airtel SIM card bundled with free 500MB of 3 months data plan and over 100,000 simulated exam questions and answers for JAMB, WAEC, NECO, and Post UME examinations.

The Whizkid2 also has a Zinox Card – a web based e-knowledge tool that empowers users with the world’s largest e-library service complete with over 2 million e-books downloadable in any PC.

In addition, the Whizkid2 is stuffed with knowledge icons like Encarta Premium 2009 including Encarta Kid and Encarta Dictionaries; Skool Nigeria – interactive learning and teaching resources – a  collaboration between Intel and Zinox; and Explore Nigeria – highly interactive learning resources with cutting edge technology endorsed by the Federal Government.

Speaking on the partnership, the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of Airtel Nigeria, Deepak Srivastava said the joint intervention is in sync with Airtel’s drive for knowledge empowerment for the youth through the provision of affordable and quality education, as can be attested to by the success of its Adopt-A-School programme.

“We are committed to a partnership that adds value to not only our customers but the entire citizenry especially the youths, who are the future leaders and nation builders of tomorrow. Our collaboration with a reputable company like Buyright Africa further underscores our quest to consistently put Nigerians indeed students and young professionals on the driving seat, as we move closer to fulfilling our vision of becoming the most loved brand in the daily lives of the people”, Srivastava enthused.

In his comments, the Managing Director of Buyright Africa, Mr. Emomine Mukoro praised Airtel Nigeria for acting in the public interest by providing free 3 months internet access to the acclaimed knowledge power house, the Zinox Whizkid2. He assured that any child who manages to go through 60% of the questions and answers on the Zinox Whizkid2 is guaranteed a minimum score of 80% success in any o’ level, A’ Level and professional examinations.

Stated Mukoro: “By this lofty initiative, Airtel and Buyright are providing valuable resources to help students and their teachers, learn and revise for their exams and also explore the wider world of education. The objective is to provide a rich and integrated approach to teaching and learning aimed at higher grades at examinations, improved global ranking for education institutions in Nigeria, while enhancing IT competencies and making Nigeria’s school leavers competitive.”

Students and career professionals that purchase the Airtel bundled Zinox Whizkid2 will automatically access the World e-books library through the Zinox Card and enjoy downloads including: 59,000 medical e-documents and books; 11,000 classic literature; 1,000 Chemistry e-books, 500 Mathematics e-books; 250 Physics e-books and 680,000 e-books from other subjects.

The suite also contains Physics simulation tools; Creative, Observation and Skills Development tools, Teacher Lessons Plans, Worksheets and Classroom Articles developed in partnership with the World e-books library.

The Zinox Whizkid2 is the result of years of on-going research by the R&D of Zinox Computers to produce a notebook that has the content to make significant contributions to critical sectors of nation building – this time to the quality of the products of education in Nigeria.

The Airtel Zinox Whizkid2 bundle offer costs N65, 000.00 and is available in all Airtel and Zinox outlets across the country.

Airtel bags triple industry awards

Posted: September 11, 2012 in airtel

Leading telecommunication services provider, Airtel Nigeria Saturday night clinched three industry Awards at the prestigious 8th edition of the Nigerian Telecoms Awards.

The telecoms operator beat off challenges from other competitors to emerge the Industry’s Most Innovative Telecom Company of the Year, Telecom Brand of the year and Consumer Friendly Operator of the year at the well-attended event marked by a huge presence of dignitaries from both the private and public sectors.

According to Awards’ citations, Airtel emerged overall best in the three categories following its enviable strides in charting new paths in meeting the demands and needs of its esteemed stakeholders through superior brand experience, a rich portfolio of innovative products and services ranging from exciting voice solutions to inventive data packages and mobile broadband.

Specifically, Airtel was commended for delighting “telecoms consumers in Nigeria with pocket-friendly and innovative offerings, bonuses, and exceptional customer relations policy.”

Speaking at the occasion held at the Incubator Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Nigerian Telecommunications Awards, Chief Alex Akinyele said the awards are sustained by credibility, describing the Industry event as the most credible in the Nigerian Telecoms space.

He pledged that the Board of Trustees will continue to live above board to retain the credibility of the Awards among stakeholders.

Also speaking at the occasion, the pioneer Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, in his speech, commended the organizers of the Awards saying, “though a lot of progress has been made since the advent of telecommunications in Nigeria, initiatives such as the telecoms awards spur further development that can ensure that Nigeria keeps pace with developments and innovations across the world.”

Some of the notable dignitaries at the event were the Executive Governor of Osun State, His Excellency, Rauf Aregbesola, His Deputy, Mrs Grace Titi-Laoye Tomori, the pioneer Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Ernest Ndukwe, former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba, former Minister of Communications, Chief Olawale Ige and former Minister of Defence and Communications, Bello Halilu Mohammed.

Airtel was represented at the event by Jaideep Paul, Chief Finance Officer; Awadesh Kumar Kalia, Chief Technical Officer; Ajay Bakshi, Customer Services Delivery Director; Adebayo Osinowo, Regional Operations Director, Lagos Region and Solanke Abimbola, Financial Controller.

Bharti Airtel Limited is a leading integrated telecommunications company with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa. Headquartered in New Delhi, India, the company ranks amongst the top 5 mobile service providers globally in terms of subscribers.

In Africa, the airtel brand is present in both Francophone and Anglophone markets spanning Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. In these countries, it offers 2G, 3G mobile services. Bharti Airtel had over 262 million customers across its operations at the end of July 2012

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have agreed to deepen cooperation in their core areas of engagement including;- health care delivery, trade, agricultural development, as well as regional peace and security.

Welcoming a delegation from the agency’s West Africa Regional Office and the United States Embassy in Nigeria, on behalf of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Vice-President Dr. Toga McIntosh, thanked the US Government and other development partners for their continued support to the organization towards fostering a people-centred regional development and integration.

As a reliable partner, he said USAID has supported ECOWAS in delivering its mandate in the region, which faces myriad of development challenges, adding that the agency’s contributions have been through several Memoranda of Understanding on development programmes, capacity building and advocacy to other donors, among others.

McIntosh assured ECOWAS’ development partners that under ongoing institutional reforms, the Commission’s new management team has placed a high priority on accountability, adding that suggestions would be welcomed to help satisfy the requirements of donors and meet the high expectations of the beneficiary Member States and community citizens.

According to him, other priority areas in the region include development of infrastructure such as roads, railway, power and energy. In their responses, the USAID Director, Regional Agriculture Office for West Africa, Dr. Candace Buzzard and Mr. James P. McAnulty, Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy, Nigeria, underscored the importance and benefits of the long-standing relation between the agency and ECOWAS. They expressed the need for the strengthening of the cooperation and the desire for ECOWAS to spear head an upcoming conference on regional food security and trade.

The US spends millions of dollars annually on world food aid. Dr. Buzzard explained that in the coming years, USAID assistance in West Africa through the ECOWAS partnership would focus on strengthening the resilience of the beneficiaries. The US delegation also noted some challenges to trade and free movement of goods and services in the region, which Dr. McIntosh assured, were being addressed by ECOWAS at the highest level.

Also on the US team were Mr. Jorge Oliveira, USAID Food Security and Natural Resources Management Advisor, Ms. Helaina Stein, Political/Military Affairs Officer at the Embassy and Ms. Aba Blankson, USAID Development Outreach and Communication Specialist. On the ECOWAS Commission’s side were the Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Dr. Marc Atouga and officials from the External Relations and Communication Departments.

The annual uMkhosi woMhlanga took place in KwaZulu-Natal over the weekend, with thousands of maidens descending on Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s palace outside Nongoma to celebrate their pride and purity.

Security was tight this year as organisers hoped to avoid the kidnappings, rapes, and stampedes which have characterized previous editions.

Nomagugu Ngobese from the Nomkhubulwane Cultural Institute said that 10,000 maidens were expected to attend. There has been some opposition to the tradition of testing the girls’ virginity before they are allowed to attend the ceremony, but its popularity has been growing as many parents start to see the value behind it.

Ngobese said: “Given the high number of rapes happening within families, many parents now see the value of this ceremony in instilling a culture of good behaviour [in youth] and exposing the abuse of young girls by their relatives.”

Meanwhile, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) lauded the reintroduction of the reed dance and said it had decreased the spread of Aids in South Africa.

The IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi was speaking at King Goodwill Zwelithini’s palace, and added that encouraging young people to delay sexual relations until marriage was a tradition which helped to fight the disease.

“Our forbearers never faced the challenge of HIV/AIDS but they understood the need to celebrate purity,” he said.

It was necessary for the similar standards to be expected from young men.

“We are abolishing the double standard that maidens must be pure, but men must be experienced… that culture breeds shame and disunity.”

“In contrast, the ceremony performed here today expresses unity and pride,” Buthelezi said.

A fight between two passengers forced a plane carrying 200 people from Zurich to Beijing to turn back at the weekend after more than six hours in the air, the airline Swiss said Monday.

“The two passengers were handed over to the police of the canton of Zurich after the Airbus A340 landed Sunday evening,” Mehdi Guenin, spokesman for the airline, said.

According to the online edition of Swiss-German daily Blick, the two passengers were Chinese citizens, aged 27 and 57.

They were set to be interrogated by police on Monday.

The plane was just east of Moscow when the pilot decided to turn it around, according to the spokesman, who said the pilot had opted to head back to Zurich instead of making an emergency landing in Moscow to avoid administrative difficulties.

Swiss put up the plane’s 200 passengers at a Zurich hotel, before placing them on Beijing flights with other companies, since its own flight to the Chinese capital Monday was already fully booked.