Rezidor, one of the fastest growing hotel companies worldwide and a member of the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, has officially announced plans for its newest addition on the continent, the Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Newlands.

The announcement comes barely two weeks after also announcing the pipeline project for another Rezidor property for Benin Republic, which follows the actual opening of two of the hospitality chain’s establishments in Victoria Island and Apapa areas of Lagos, last year.

With the decision to establish a West Africa hub in Nigeria, Rezidor Group has partnered with Anchorage for the Victoria Island-based Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel as well as another for Apapa, thus increasing the room volume of the fast expanding business travel destination of Lagos, along with other international chains springing up in the city.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest country by population has almost 7,000 rooms under contract, up 2,000 on last year’s figure. New openings recently have included Radisson Blu, Four Points by Sheraton, Ibis and Legacy in Lagos, and many groups have hotels under construction there, including Accor, Hilton, IHG and Protea, the last named increasing their presence in the country from 10 hotels to 16 hotels in the next three years.

The Cape Town mid-market property featuring 122 keys is scheduled to open in Q1 2014. It is Rezidor’s second Park Inn by Radisson hotel in Cape Town; the group also has two Radisson Blu hotels in Cape Town (one in operation, one under development).

“South Africa is an important cluster for our young and dynamic Park Inn by Radisson brand, and we are delighted to further strengthen our presence in the key market Cape Town”, said Mr. Kurt Ritter, President & CEO of Rezidor. The project will also confirm Rezidor as the largest international hotel operator in South Africa with 10 hotels and more than 1,800 rooms open or under development.

The new built Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Newlands will be the first internationally branded hotel in Claremont / Newlands, a key upmarket business and residential node, in the affluent Southern Suburbs of Cape Town.

Besides 122 comfortable guest rooms it will comprise a club lounge, a business lounge, the RBG Restaurant & Bar, a breakfast restaurant, a kiosk and help desk, a gym, multipurpose meeting and function facilities, an outdoor terrace with sculpture garden and an outdoor swimming pool.

The hotel will be close to several legendary sport stadiums and institutions, such as the Newlands Cricket Ground, Newlands Rugby Stadium, South African Rugby Head Quarters and the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, Africa’s leading sports medicine, rehabilitation and high performance centre. The prestigious University of Cape Town which is the highest ranked university in Africa is only a short distance away, as are many office parks and company’s headquarters.

This development is a joint venture between Meridian Property Holdings, a Cape Town based developer, Deaf Federation of South Africa (DEAFSA), and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). DEAFSA represents some 800 000 hearing disabled members countrywide, and views the development as a key broad-based empowerment initiative in terms of income generating, skills transfer and employment opportunities for its members.

Park Inn by Radisson is a fresh and energetic mid market hotel brand that has been created for fast and flexible growth. “The energy, excitement and colour of Park Inn by Radisson continue to build momentum” commented Andrew McLachlan, Rezidor’s Vice President Business Development for Africa & Indian Ocean Islands. “Park Inn by Radisson hotels are highly efficient, fresh and innovative hotels that are global in outlook and local in operation; and we are committed to ambitious growth of this brand in South Africa”.

The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, born in early 2012, is one of the world’s largest and most dynamic hotel groups. The portfolio of the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group includes more than 1,300 hotels, a global footprint spanning 80 countries, a powerful set of global brands (Radisson Blu, Radisson®, Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM, Park Inn by Radisson, Hotel Missoni and Park Plaza®).

The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group is headquartered in Minneapolis, United States, and Brussels, Belgium.

The leading travel brands from across the Caribbean and the Americas have shared top honours at a World Travel Awards ceremony hosted at Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa on September 14.

A packed delegation of VIPs, senior tourism figures, and international media travelled from more than 30 nations to attend WTA’s Caribbean & The Americas Ceremony 2012, which was supported by Turks & Caicos Tourist Board and Scotiabank.

It was an evening of travel triumph for nations across the Caribbean. St. Lucia won the coveted title of “Caribbean’s Leading Honeymoon Destination,” Coco Reef Resort (Tobago) picked up “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel.” while Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island (British Virgin Islands) was voted “Caribbean Leading Private Island.”

Buccament Bay Spa & Resort (St. Vincent) nudged ahead of The Hotel Chocolat (St. Lucia), Hotel Riu Palace Bavaro (Dominican Republic), The Magdalena Grand Beach Resort (Tobago); and Cofresi Palm Beach & Spa Resort (Dominican Republic) to win “Caribbean’s Leading New Hotel.”

Jamaica’s continuing rise up the global tourism order was acknowledged after it was named “Caribbean’s Leading Destination.”

In North America, Las Vegas saw off competition from New York, Miami, San Francisco, Montreal, and Vancouver to win the coveted title of “North America’s Leading Destination.” New York won the “North America’s Leading City Break Destination” title, while American Airlines was voted “North America’s Leading Airline.”

Meanwhile, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) was voted “South America’s Leading Destination,” ahead of the likes of Easter Island (Chile), Galapagos Islands (Ecuador), and Machu Picchu (Peru).

Cancun (Mexico) came in ahead of Bay Islands (Honduras), San Jose (Costa Rica), Los Cabos (Mexico), and Granada (Nicaragua) to win the coveted title of “Mexico & Central America’s Leading Destination.” Copa Airlines was named “Mexico & Central America’s Leading Airline.”

The WTA awards program, hailed as the “Oscars of the travel industry” by the global media, highlights and rewards those travel brands that have made the greatest contribution to the industry over the past year.

Graham E. Cooke, President & Founder, WTA, underlined the depth and quality of the travel and tourism sector across the Caribbean and the Americas.

He says: “Our winners are also drawn from the breadth of the Caribbean and the Americas, reflecting the strength and depth of the travel and tourism sector in the regions. I am sure these organizations will fare strongly in our Grand Final, which takes place in New Delhi, India on December 12, 2012.”

“The ceremony has also served as a glittering spotlight for Turks & Caicos – a paradise nation that has welcomed a record number of tourist visitors over the past year. This is testament to its overwhelming natural attractions, its luxury hospitality facilities and its rich local heritage.”

Gordon “Butch” Stewart, Chairman of Sandals Resorts International, said: “We are honoured to receive the highest number of awards in Sandals Resorts’ history. We always strive for excellence, and continue to invest in our product so that each year we can be proud to say we are the Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand.”

Ralph Higgs, Director of Tourism, Turks & Caicos Tourist Board, said: “The Turks & Caicos Islands Tourist Board congratulates the winners and the nominees for this year’s World Travel Awards. With another 30 nations represented at these awards, we hope that each of you will take a piece of our islands home with you, etched in your memory forever. Congratulations again and we do hope to see you here in the future as we celebrate and acknowledge the brightest and best in the global hospitality industry.”

Rising Caribbean star and the reigning Miss Bahamas, Anastagia Pierre, hosted the show with American actor and comedian, Walt Willey. Some of the Caribbean’s finest vocalists, including Shawn Campbell and Elroy Simmons, performed to the packed audience.

Other WTA Grand Tour 2012 regional heats include Dubai (UAE), Algarve (Portugal), and Singapore. The winners of these legs will go head-to-head in WTA’s Grand Final, which takes place at The Oberoi, Gurgaon on December 12.

Global tourism monitoring agency, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has indicated that the number of international tourists worldwide grew by 5 per cent between January and June 2012 compared to the same period of 2011 (22 million more), with destinations in sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria, maintain growth at over six per cent in the period under review.

While further predicting that international arrivals will exceed one billion by the end of 2012, the agency noted that with a record 467 million tourists travelling in the first half of 2012, international tourism remains firmly on track to reach one billion tourists by the end of the year.

“Amid the current economic uncertainty, tourism is one of the few economic sectors in the world growing strongly, driving economic progress in developing and developed countries alike and, most importantly, creating much needed jobs,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, opening the Global Tourism Economy Forum in Macao.

Despite concerns over the global economy, international tourism demand continues to show resilience. The number of international tourists worldwide grew by 5 per cent between January and June 2012 compared to the same period of 2011 (22 million more). Although a slight slowdown in growth can be expected for the rest of the year, international arrivals are forecast to exceed one billion by the end of 2012.

“As we lead up to the milestone of one billion, we need to ensure that the tourism sector is supported by adequate national policies and that we work to reduce existing barriers to the expansion of the sector, such as complicated visa procedures, increased direct taxation or limited connectivity,” he added.

According to the ­United Nations agency for tourism, international arrivals were up in all regions between January and June 2012. Asia and the Pacific (+8 per cent) led growth by region, boosted by the recovery of Japanese inbound and outbound tourism as well as by the continued strong performance of other major source markets throughout the region. Destinations in South Asia and South-East Asia (both +9 per cent) showed some of the best results worldwide.

“Although Asia was affected by the economic crisis of 2008-2009 due to its strong linkages with other economies, the region has bounced back quickly and is today a leader in the global economy. This is clearly reflected in its tourism figures,” said Mr. Rifai.

Europe (+4 per cent), the most visited destination in the world, consolidated its record growth of 2011, despite continuing economic volatility in the Eurozone. Results were above the regional average in Central and Eastern Europe (+7 per cent) where many destinations saw double-digit growth, as well as in Western Europe (+5 per cent). By contrast, demand in Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+1 per cent) slowed down, but on top of a very strong 2011, and partly due to the recovery of destinations in North Africa and the Middle East.

The Americas (+5 per cent) grew in line with the world average, with Central America (+7 per cent) and South America (+6 per cent) recording the strongest results. In fact, South America has been one of the sub-regions with the fastest tourism growth of recent years. Destinations in North America grew at 4 per cent, a relatively high rate for a mature sub-region, while growth in the Caribbean (+5 per cent) remained buoyant, consolidating 2011 results.

In Africa (+7 per cent), the return of tourist flows to Tunisia is reflected in the results of North Africa (+11 per cent). Likewise, the rebound of Egypt is clearly mirrored in the results of the Middle-East (+0.7 per cent). Destinations in Sub-Saharan Africa (+6 per cent) continued to show strong results, following the good growth rates of this sub-region in previous years.

In terms of outbound markets, and among the top ten countries by expenditure on travel abroad, growth was significant in China (+30 per cent), the Russian Federation (+15 per cent), USA (+9 per cent), Germany (+6 per cent) and Canada (+6 per cent). In Japan, an 8 per cent increase in spending on overseas tourism confirms the recovery of this important market. On the other hand, growth was comparatively slow or negative in the UK, Australia, Italy and France.

Air passengers flying in economy class are more likely to survive a plane crash, according to a new study.

As part of research for a television programme, a Boeing 727 carrying cameras, sensors and crash test dummies with breakable bones was deliberately crashed into the Sonoran Desert in Mexico earlier this year.

Three dummies were also arranged in various positions: one in the classic “brace” position and with a seat belt fastened, one with just the seat belt fastened, and a third with neither.

Following analysis of the crash, it has now been claimed that passengers at the front of the aircraft, usually reserved for first-class, business-class or premium-economy passengers, were less likely to survive.

After hitting the ground, the front of the plane, and the first 11 rows of seats, were ripped off. A force of 12G was recording in this section of the aircraft.

Further back, the force fell to around 6G.

Experts concluded that none of the plane’s first-class passengers would have survived the crash, but 78 per cent of the other passengers would have, with the chance of survival increasing the closer they were sitting to the rear of the aircraft.

They also said that the dummy in the brace position with its seat belt fastened would have survived the impact. The one which was not in the brace position would have suffered severe head injuries, while the one not wearing a seatbelt would have died.

Its findings support a study by Popular Mechanics, carried out in 2007. The magazine looked at all crashes since 1971 for which seat survival data was available and found that those in rear seats (behind the wing’s trailing edge) were safer, survival rates were 69 per cent as opposed to 56 per cent over the wing and 49 per cent for those at the front of the plane.

The programme, with a working title of Plane Crash, by production company Dragonfly, will be screen on British television next month.

Courtesy: The Telegraph, London

TWENTY-TWO adventurers in two MGA and nine MGB classic British cars are driving through Namibia from Cape to Cairo and back to Abingdon in England.

The 21, 000km trip is expected to take 92 days to complete and will take the vehicles and drivers through 12 countries. The drivers are from Australia, England and South Africa. The youngest participant is 29 and the oldest 73.

The trip is organised by David and Laurel Godwin, who had previously arranged five other MG adventure trips – the most recent being the Silk Road trip in 2010 from Beijing to London, in which four couples participated who are now also part of the Cape to Cairo party.

Godwin advertised the trip in MG enthusiasts’ magazines worldwide and received the most responses from MG owners in Australia.

The group will spend seven days in Namibia where they will stop over at Ai-Ais and Sossusvlei before driving on to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Sicily, Italy, France and England. They will stop in Abingdon, England, at the MG centre where the cars were assembled.

The only concern for the travellers is the 450km stretch of dirt road which is known as ‘The Road from Hell’ between northern Kenya and the Ethiopian border.

“In addition, the route chosen includes another approximately 1, 500km of unknown dirt roads so the trip has the ingredients to be a ‘Trip of a Lifetime’,” said David Godwin.

Participants worked on their cars prior to the trip by putting stone guards at the bottom and fitting the cars with extra springs to lift the usually very low-slung cars.

“I am blown away by Namibia’s spectacular scenery, it is extraordinary,” said participant Ros Bastian – a sentiment echoed by most of the participants.

The trip has been smooth so far, with some cars requiring minor repairs. The only ugly moment was when some boys standing next to the road in southern Namibia threw rocks at the cars, breaking the windscreen of one which will have to be replaced in Nairobi.

“Some of our friends think we are stark raving mad, while others are extremely envious,” Bastian added.

In an effort to further add content to this year’s edition of Felabration, an annual event in commemoration of the globally respected pan-Africanist, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, all roads will on Monday, October 15, will lead to the Olumo Rock Tourist Complex, Abeokuta, in Ogun State, as a one-day event tagged: Felabration 2012 Live In Abeokuta features a public lecture and book presentation in honour of the late Afrobeat icon and rights activist.

Also on the bill is a special appearance and performance of top multi-talented music producer Don Jazzy.

The proposed lecture, titled: Fela Anikulapo-Kuti: An Agent of Change, will be delivered by Dr. Sola Olurunyomi, a lecturer at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. The book, a narrative and screenplay entitled: “Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. The Primary man of an African Personality” written by Jawi Oladipo-Ola, a Fela enthusiast and published by FrontPage media, Osogbo will be reviewed at the occasion by Dr. Kayode Eesuola, Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University of Lagos.

The choice of Abeokuta, Fela’s ancestral home for the one day event is a deliberate and sustained effort by the organizers, FrontPage Media with the support of Olumo Rock Tourist Complex to impact the spirit of Felabrations on the immediate Abeokuta community.

According to Mr. Bankole Ola, event coordinator, the pursuit of this memorable event intends to make Fela continually relevant ‘as we build upon his landmark achievements and chart a positive path for his immortalization. ‘

“It is also positioned to spur the progressive government of Senator Ibikunle Amosun in Ogun State to formally recognize, honour and immortalize the great son of Egbaland, nay Africa, who against all odds-victimization, intimidation, harassments, brutalization, imprisonment-remained undaunted in his chosen mission. He came, saw and conquered because he was always determined to practice his convictions, rather than mere talk about them,” said Ola.

“Considering the socio-political, cultural and tourism contributions of the late music legend and human rights activist to Nigeria, Fela deserves to be immortalized as a worthy ambassador of the black race.  As a worthy son of Egbaland, Fela epitomized patriotism to his fatherland. As a member of the famous KUTI family, he was a Rock of Gibraltar. As a social crusader, he inspired a large followership among the high and socially depressed in the society. As an African, he committed his entir3e life to the cause of the down trodden,” he added.

Moreso, the planned event is a further way of capturing the enthusiasm that surrounds Olumo Rock as a tourism and cultural heritage towards promoting indigenous creativity and enhancing its potentials to a global perspective, considering the place of the Egba-Abeokuta to the missionaries, as ‘the spear head of civilization in that part of Africa.’

The event which will be held chaired by Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi OFR, Chairman, Ragolis Ltd, will be graced by the Executive Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun as Special Guest of Honour.

The Book Presenter is Omo’oba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon, Chairman/CEO, Omo’oba Yemisi-Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF) with Mr. Michael Ajereh Collins (Don Jazzy), President/Chief Executive Officer, Mavin Records as Chief Launcher while Honourable Segun Olulade, member, Lagos State House of Assembly, representing Epe 2 Constituency, Mr. Joseph Odobeatu, O’Jez boss, and Mrs. Folake Ali-Memuney, Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, are Special Launchers.

While lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana SAN is Special Host, the Ogun State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Chief Olu Odeyemi is chief host. Also expected are the Speaker, Ogun State house of Assembly, Hon. Adekunbi Suraju, the State Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. Lanre Tejuoso and the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu.

Other expected dignitaries are: Hon. Rotimi Makinde, Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Human Rights and member, Committee on Culture and tourism, Ms Yeni Kuti, Femi Anikulapo Kuti, Seun Anikulapo-Kuti, Segun Arinze and Dede Mabuiaku, amongst others.

Newly formed Laara Owa performing group, the performing troupe of Olumo Rock Tourist Complex will also perform at the occasion.

Publisher of Africa Oil & Gas Report and Secretary General of the Committee for Relevant art (ORA) Art & Cultural Foundation, Mr. Toyin Akinosho, has announced November 16 to 18 as dates for the 14th Lagos Book & Art Festival. Scheduled for the Freedom Park, Broad Street, Lagos Island, the event holds alongside a pre-event Publishers’ Forum and Cocktail holding on the 15th.

With the theme of; The Narrative of Conflict, which focuses on how the written word and the literacy it engenders interrogates the different conflicts that surround our current existence and recent past, the festival is dedicated to the veteran artist Bruce Onabrakpeya who turned 80 this year and whose work and dedication to the arts sector continues to be a source of inspiration to generations of Nigerians.

The Lagos Book & Art Festival (LABAF) is a landmark event on the nation’s culture calendar with sprawling book displays, exhibitions, live music and drama performances and of course, nuanced literary events that take time out to dig deep into the content of books.

“LABAF is self-styled as Africa’s Biggest Culture Picnic because we don’t just put together a book fair, a performance concert, a literary festival or an art expo, what we do is a healthy fusion of all four in a festival atmosphere, and for the past 14 years, the festival has become an important destination for families, literary and art enthusiasts, culture producers, children and even lovers. We have had people who came as children years ago still attending now as young adults. We have also had people who met at the festival grounds for the first time years ago, still attending as married couples. What keeps them coming back is the way the festival allows them to engage with culture in a fun atmosphere, that is why it is Africa’s Biggest Culture Picnic,” said Akinosho.

LABAF 2012 will feature over 10 book events, 3 music concerts, 2 theatre shows, 11 workshops for children and 2 visual art exhibitions.

There are over thirty books being discussed at the festival including: Fela: This Bitch of a Life by Carlos Moore, Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley by Timothy White; Power, Politics & Death by Segun Adeniyi; Bitter-Sweet My Life with Obasanjo by Oluremi Obasanjo; A Measure of Grace by Akin Mabogunje; Bomboy, by Yewande Omotosho; Voice Of America, by E. C. Osondu; Stealth Of Nations: The Global Rise Of The Informal Economy, by Robert Neuwirth; Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson; Open Graveyard by Wale Osun; Out of the Shadows by Kayode Fayemi; Roses and Bullets by Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo and Witness To Justice by Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah.

Due to the fact that the LABAF book events usually engage with books at a deeper level beyond the star power of the authors that produce them, most sessions are usually driven by robust discussion panels, some of the writers and thinkers confirmed for these panels include: Sola Olorunyomi, Bisi Arije, Femi Akintunde Johnson, Toni Kan, Femi Aisida, Toki Mabogunje, Odili Ujubonu, Tolu Ogunlesi, Wale Ajao, Derin Ajao, Tunji Lardner, Niran Okewole, Tade Ipadeola, Layiwola Adeniji, Eghosa Imasuen, Anwuli Ojogwu, Kayode Komolafe amongst others.

The children’s programme coordinated by Children And The Environment (CATE) will feature loads of activities, workshops, talks and performances centred around the festival theme of The Narrative of Conflict while marking the National Creativity Day and United Nations Child Rights Day.

In a tightly packed performance bouquet, The Crown Troupe of Africa would be staging Zainabu Jallo’s ‘Holy Night’ while the internationally acclaimed Renegade Theatre will also be taking the stage during the course of the festival.

Add to that a Jazz Concert produced by Inspiro Productions, storytelling, spoken word, music and reading sessions produced by Pulp Faction, Image & Heritage and Laipo, a return of CORA’s Great Highlife Party in the biggest Highlife Concert in a long while, all rolled into a scenic venue with a captivating history.

Forty pioneering digital journalism projects have been shortlisted as finalists in the inaugural $1 million African News Innovation Challenge (ANIC).

The initiative is the largest fund for digital journalism experimentation in Africa, and is designed to spur solutions to the business, distribution and workplace challenges that face the media industry.

In all, 513 applicants were carefully screened by a technical review panel that evaluated which projects have the best potential for strengthening and transforming African news media.

Projects were also assessed for their potential to be replicated by media elsewhere in Africa, or to be scaled up across the continent, to create wide and sustained impact.

“We are thrilled with the broad range of innovation and ideas among the finalists,” says ANIC manager, Justin Arenstein. Arenstein is a Knight International Journalism Fellow, who leads the initiative as part of a wider digital innovation program with Africa’s largest association of media owners and operators, the African Media Initiative (AMI). “The teams with the strongest links to newsrooms and technology partners had an advantage, as did those that could already point to some proofs-of-concept.”

Short-listed finalists include proposals to improve data-driven investigative journalism and the security of journalists or their sources, as well as improve audience engagement, mobile news distribution, data visualization, new revenue models and workflow systems.

“The finalists are also all projects that haven’t lost sight of the core focus for the initiative: quality journalism,” says Arenstein. “There is a danger in any innovation program that we get blinded by gadgets and hype. The technical review panel therefore focused on projects that demonstrated a keen commitment to journalism itself.”

Finalists will attend a TechCamp in Zanzibar, in partnership with the Tech@State program. There they will have the opportunity to refine and defend their proposals in consultation with some of the world’s leading media technology strategists, including experts from the U.K. Guardian’s data team, Mozilla’s OpenNews initiative, Google, previous Knight News Challenge winners, and the World Association of Newspapers.

A separate jury of international media strategists, technology innovators, and funding experts will evaluate the revised project plans and will select an estimated 20 winners. They will be announced at the continent’s largest annual gathering of media executives, the African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF), in Dakar, Senegal, on November 10.

Winners will receive cash grants ranging from $12,500 to $100,000, as well as additional technology and business development support. They will also have access to a dedicated AMI CivicTech code lab, for technical advice, start-up support and one-on-one mentoring from the world’s top media experts.

ANIC’s founding partners include Omidyar Network, Google, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the U.S. State Department, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

Applicants were encouraged to enter their submissions in the “open” public category, so that they could receive public comments and reviews. The technical review panel and the international jury give preference to applications in this category. A “closed” category was provided for projects with proprietary trade or technology secrets.

Director of the Economic Development and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie, has lauded the 2012 edition of the African Economic Outlook (AEO) prepared on the special theme: “Promoting Youth Employment.”

Launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on September 13 in the presence of members of the diplomatic community, government officials, and representatives of international organizations, the private sector and civil society, Nnadozie, who represented UNECA at the occasion, said the theme of the 2012 report is timely because it highlights the joint efforts of the four institutions – AfDB, UNECA, United Nations Development Programme and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“The report will serve to help African countries identify opportunities and address challenges in order to maximize benefits from the emerging demographic dividend on the continent,” he said.

He further stressed the fact that the 2012 report advocates for policies that focus on creating the right skills necessary for youths to compete in the job market and support entrepreneurship, if this massive human capital is to be turned into an economic opportunity.

The report states that Africa could actually take advantage of its expanding youth population to sustain and accelerate the economic and social development of the continent.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Lamin Barrow, Resident Representative of the African Development Bank in Ethiopia, described the new report as a clarion call for Africa to “reset the policy agenda towards promoting inclusive, employment-creating and sustainable growth strategies aimed particularly at addressing the special needs of youth.” He said that creating productive jobs for young people will continue to pose a major policy challenge, especially as the number of youths in Africa is set to double from the current 200 million to about 400 million by 2045.

Around 60 per cent of the continent’s unemployed are between the ages of 15 and 24. “This is indeed an unacceptable reality on a continent with such a pool of youth, talent and creativity,” he said. However, citing the report, Mr. Barrow observed with a measure of satisfaction that “Africa’s youth population is not only growing rapidly, it is also getting better educated.”

“Based on current trends, about 59 per cent of 20- to 24-year-olds will have had secondary education in 2030, compared to 42 per cent today. This will translate into 137 million people in this group with secondary education and 12 million with tertiary education in 2030,” he explained. Experts predict that if this trend continues the continent’s labour force will reach 1 billion by 2040, making it the largest in the world.

Nevertheless, the report warns that high unemployment among youth poses a serious challenge for the economies of African countries, despite their remarkable recovery from the 2011 global economic and financial crisis. It urges African countries to make youth employment a priority in order to stem the expanding population of unemployed youth.

The bank’s Resident Representative again praised the strong collaboration between the four partner institutions, noting that it is thanks to this collaboration that they could produce this flagship report, which is a “good source of valuable analysis and perspectives on fostering inclusive growth and promoting youth employment.” He said he was delighted to note that, despite all the odds, Africa’s rate of growth has outperformed the global average over the last decade. However, “high growth is not sufficient to guarantee productive employment for all,” he stressed.

UNDP Country Director for Ethiopia Ms. Alessandra Tisot called the report “a reminder to African governments and policy-makers to focus on removing obstacles to the many informal groups and support them to grow and create decent jobs.” She identified challenges, which need to be addressed and said they relate to “strengthening the link with different industries in the job market and providing practical skills, access to credit, microfinance, easy access to information and technology to enhance employability.”

The African Economic Outlook report is published annually through joint efforts by the African Development Bank, UNECA, UNDP and the OECD. The coverage of the African Economic Outlook has increased from 22 countries in 2002 to 53 countries in 2012, covering all African countries with the exception of Somalia.

Nigeria and South Africa have agreed to accelerate the implementation of the ‘Cooperation in the field of Tourism Agreement,’ signed in 2008 and designed to deepen tourism relations between both countries and the rest of Africa.

This was one of the fallouts of a meeting held in Pretoria last week between top level officials of the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation including the Permanent Secretary Mrs Ibukun Odusote, led by the minister Chief Edem Duke and his South African counterpart Mr. Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

The meeting also had in attendance Nigeria’s High Commissioner in South Africa, Ambassador Sonni Samuel Yusuf.

The meeting on its part formed highlight of the official four-day working tour of South Africa by the Nigerian Tourism ministry on the invitation of the South African Tourism minister, van Schalkwyk.

The tourism bilateral agreement between South Africa and Nigeria which covers interactions between tourism and travel trade officials; the exchange of tourism research, statistics and human resource development, also includes investment, exchange programmes, joint marketing, and establishment of a joint commission, entry formalities and environmental matters between the two countries.

During his trip to South Africa from August 30 through to September 2, Duke participated at the commemoration of the South Africa’s Tourism Month. The Tourism Month is celebrated annually in South Africa every September and was officially launched this year at the Getaway Show August 31in Johannesburg.

Speaking at the launch of Tourism Month, Minister Duke stressed the need “to continue to forge partnerships and working relationships between Nigeria and South Africa to further boost and grow our tourism sectors to provide employment opportunities, as well as to contribute a significant percentage to the economies of our dear nations”.

“Both Nigeria and South Africa have seen a tremendous partnership and significant engagements in areas such as telecommunications, media, tourism and aviation. This has led to more than US$3 billion in trade volume between South Africa and Nigeria. And there is further rich potential for both countries not only to maintain this mutual and symbiotic relationship, but to up the ante too,” he added.

In his key note address to declare the start of the Tourism Month celebrations, South African Tourism Minister, Marthinus Van Schalkwyk stated that  “South Africa’s relationship with Nigeria is one of deep friendship, a strong partnership and a united determination to grow tourist arrivals not only to the two destinations, but to the entire African region,” Minster Van Schalkwyk.

“Nigeria is a major growth market for our destination. We saw monumental tourist arrivals growth of 37.5per cent from Nigeria in 2011 and arrivals from Nigeria grew a further 28.7% in the first four months of this year,” Minister Van Schalkwyk disclosed.

This year’s Tourism Month agenda focus intensely on encouraging South Africans to travel their own country and to get a better understanding of the affordable and exciting leisure travel attractions available to them on their own doorstep.

The Getaway show is organised by South Africa’s national travel and outdoor magazine, Getaway, whose editorial content gives readers ideas on where to go in South Africa, what to do and what to see in South Africa and the rest of Southern Africa.

Before proceeding to the Tourism Month launch, both Ministers featured on SABC 2’s ‘Morning Live’ programme, a highly-rated breakfast TV show on state-owned South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) television.