The Venice Biennale president, Mr. Paolo Baratta and the 2013 exhibition director Mr. Massimiliano Gioni have announced that Nigeria, along with seven other countries that were not among the 89 participants who featured at last year’s edition of the visual art event, will now have new pavilions at next year’s edition of the international art showcase.

The seven other countries include: Bahamas, Bahrain, Ivory Coast, Kosovo, Kuwait, the Maldives and Paraguay.

Gioni has also selected a theme for the exhibition, which runs June 1through to November 24, 2013 that will be known as “The Encyclopedic Palace,” part of the title of a 136-story Futurist skyscraper imagined for Washington, D.C.’s National Mall by Marino Auriti, a self-taught Italian American artist.

While authorities in Nigeria are yet to confirm the artist or group of artists to represent the country at the global visual arts meet, Germany has interestingly picked and included controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei among a group of artists to occupy its pavilion at the biennale next year.

Meanwhile, the biennale’s director, Gioni, while making the announcement Monday that at least eight nations will join the biennale next year, staging pavilions alongside long-time participants like France, the United States and so forth, also revealed a surprise participant in the Vatican.

The Vatican City will, according biennale organizers, have a pavilion at the biennale for the first time.

“The artists will include fewer than ten men and women from various countries around the world, some of whom are established artists and others who are just emerging. Their subject matter will be the first 11 chapters of the Book of Genesis,” read Italy’s La Stampa paper.

Last year’s biennale saw a total of 89 international pavilions, an all-time record. Though Singapore has said that it will sit out this round, the nine confirmed additions over the past two days mean that a new record will almost certainly be set next year.

The 55th edition of the Venice Biennale will run from June 1 to November 24, 2013. Newly-appointed associate director, Gioni, is curating the main exhibition at the show, and dozens of countries will present work at the same time in their national pavilions.

Participating artists representing countries in Venice next year include: Austria (Mathias Poledna), Britain

(Jeremy Deller), Canada (Shary Boyle), Denmark (Jesper Just), France (Anri Sala), Germany (Ai Weiwei, Dayanita Singh, Santu Mofokeng, Romuald Karmakar), Hong Kong (Lee Kit), Iceland (Katrín Sigurdardóttir), Ireland (Richard Mosse), Japan (Koki Tanaka), Lebanon (Akram Zaatari), The Netherlands (Mark Manders), New Zealand (Bill Culbert), Portugal (Joana Vasconcelos).

Others are: Russia (Vadim Zakharov), Scotland (Duncan Campbell, Corin Sworn and Hayley Tompkins), Singapore (Skipping 2013), South Korea (Group show), Switzerland (Valentin Carron), Turkey (Ali Kazma), United Arab Emirates (Mohammed Kazem), United States (Sarah Sze) and Wales (Bedwyr Williams).

After extensive consultation with tourism industry stakeholders, South African Tourism (SAT) has taken the decision to reduce Indaba from the usual four to three days next year, with Indaba 2013 taking place from 11-13 May 2013.

According to the national destination marketing and promoting agency, the forthcoming Indaba 2013 will be a shorter, sharper show, geared at giving visiting buyers easy access to the widest cross section of the South African tourism industry-all eager to showcase their innovative offerings and to do business in a destination which saw over 10 per cent growth in tourist arrivals in the first half of 2012.

While the reality of the aftermath of the global economic recession saw a decline in the number of buyers and visitors at Indaba 2012, the show retained its stature as the premier showcase. Indaba has maintained its global status as a business platform for international tour operators and buyers serious about growing their business in Southern Africa’s burgeoning tourism industry.

Attracting 3, 722 travel buyers and 1, 458 exhibitors from every conceivable aspect of South Africa’s leisure and lifestyle travel experiences, the numbers were still impressive at Indaba 2012, with the overall execution of the show of a very high standard.

“South Africa offers potential international tourism buyers and tour operators a tangible opportunity for business growth and to be a part of South Africa’s tourism success story. Indaba undoubtedly remains the tourism industry’s premier business networking event and will remain one of the most exciting travel trade shows on the annual tourism business calendar. Indaba is not about breaking attendance records, but is focusing on attracting quality buyers, exhibitors and visitors. Although delegate numbers dropped slightly this year, we attracted a number of quality hosted buyers and exhibitors that compare favourably with 2010 attendance statistics,” said Thulani Nzima, Chief Executive Officer at South African Tourism.

While the overwhelming call from the tourism industry in forums with previous Indaba attendees and with the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) was for a shorter, more impactful Indaba, major positive feedback received was on how useful the ‘speed marketing’ sessions were in showcasing South Africa’s tourism product.

“This year there were three speed marketing sessions, each focussing on South Africa’s tourism offerings in the fields of responsible and sustainable tourism; adventure tourism; and culture and heritage tourism. They were very well attended – oversubscribed in fact – and proved to be an exceptionally useful business introductory service for both exhibitors and buyers. So we’re making them a feature of Indaba next year and will be having them on every day of the show,” said Nzima.

Another feature of Indaba will be an exhibitor workshop to discuss key tourism trends and industry updates with the world’s leading travel industry experts.

Important for the tourism industry to note is that TOMSA levy payers will get 10 per cent discount for the exhibition stand costs.  To ensure a good quality of experience for Indaba attendees, South African Tourism has changed the registration form for Indaba 2013 to ensure ‘products’ can’t register as buyers, with a view to maintaining strict controls for Indaba access to ensure the event’s quality.

“We’ve been working on ensuring we take on board as much feedback as possible on what worked and what didn’t work at previous Indabas, in order to ensure the show remains a major attraction for international visitors and buyers – a crucial business networking platform for the South African tourism trade. We’ve held three Indaba road shows in October in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, with over 360 attendees, and there wasn’t a single complaint about us reducing the length of Indaba, a decision which was in fact commended in keeping with other international shows,” said Nzima.

Indaba 2013 will take place from May 11 -13. Media registration opened October 15, 2012 and will close May 4, 2013.

Nigeria as well as other emerging tourist destinations in Africa will be in a good position among other world continents in tourism as the number of foreign tourists visiting several African countries is growing into double figures in coming years.

Through financial support and growing investments in hotels and air transport, there has been an increase in number of tourists visiting Africa every year, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has predicted.

Addressing participants at the just-concluded First Pan African Conference on Sustainable Tourism Management in African National Parks and Protected Areas which held in Tanzania, UNWTO Secretary General, Dr. Taleb Rifai, stressed that the Africa should expect to receive 134 million tourists by the coming 18 years, further adding that the continent stands at a better position to build its tourism.

“Everybody is travelling. It has become a human right to move and travel across the world for business, education, and leisure,” Rifai said.

Nature-based tourism or eco-tourism is a large and growing global industry, partially dependent upon the attributes of the natural environment and biodiversity made up of wildlife and scenery which represent one of Africa’s strategic competitive advantages as a destination.

Though the world has entered an age of travel, Rifai said Africa still gets less than five percent of world tourism gains. New partnerships between Africa and the rest of the world after this conference should impulse rekindling of park management structures in order to maximize the economics and social benefits of tourism to local communities, Dr. Rifai said.

Africa’s tourism is currently growing at a respectable average rate of 7.2 percent. One out of every 20 jobs in Africa is in the tour and travel industry, UNWTO said. Available statistics indicate African continent received about 50 million tourists last year – a mere fraction of the world total. But supporting and investing in tourism would add more benefits through multiplier effects.

“The majority of African countries, mostly sub-Sahara African states are embracing tourism as a potential tool for economic development and poverty alleviation tool,” said senior regional tourism adviser with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Geoffrey Manyara.

Eastern African economies have tourism contributing significantly to economic growth and development by over seven percent to their GDP with the exception of DR Congo.

Over the decades, tourism has experienced continued growth and deepening ‎diversification to become one of the fastest -growing economic sectors in the world. ‎Modern tourism is closely linked to development and encompasses a growing number ‎of new destinations. These dynamics have turned tourism into a key driver for socio-‎economic progress.

Republic of Mali had expressed its commitment to launch a tourism strategy that would help building its bad image, and re-develop its rich historical and cultural heritages sites, once lost their glory through civil strife.

The Gambia and Nigeria are set to improve collaboration in tourism with a view to bolstering tourist arrivals in both countries. The two countries Tuesday agreed to strengthen bilateral tourism agreement, according to Mrs. Angela Colley-Iheme, the Gambia High Commissioner to Nigeria, at the 8th edition of “Akwaaba African Travel Market” in Lagos.

She said that strengthening the bilateral agreement would deepen tourism relations between both countries.

“I am married to a Nigerian and that is why we are interested in the brotherhood relationship. We have been doing tourism for 65 years. Our Gambia Tourism Board is in Nigeria to promote tourism and also they (the Board) are here to tap the tourism potential of Nigeria,” she said.

According to her, the visit by the Board was to exchange ideas on how both countries could market their tourism potential as preferred tourist destinations among African countries. “Gambia’s relations 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,” she said.

Iheme disclosed that the Gambia government had concluded plans to establish an airline called Gambia Bird that would fly into Nigeria. She called for the promotion of regional tourism in Africa, saying that this would help strengthen tourism in the continent.

Iheme canvassed for patronage of recreational centres, saying that visiting such places was a source of natural therapy. “Visiting beaches, parks, and other recreation centres is a source of natural therapy,” she said.

A high-level delegation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Chinese officials have held talks, Wednesday, October 24, in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, on ways to boost trade, investment and technical cooperation between China and the region.

President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo led the 32-member ECOWAS delegation, while Mr. Li Jinzao, the Vice- Minister of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China spearheaded his country’s 36-member delegation which included officials from Chinese embassies in ECOWAS Member States.

Included in ECOWAS delegation are officials in the relevant sectors, Commissioners and Mr. Ernest Komenan, Vice-President Operations of the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), while the Chinese delegation also included officials from various ministries and companies in the relevant areas.

The discussions are expected to result in the signing of a framework agreement for cooperation in the identified areas with a view to enhancing economic cooperation between both sides in trade, services, investment and infrastructural development. The agreement will also cover industrial and technical cooperation through joint ventures, common exploitation and the transfer of technology.

To achieve these objectives, both parties are expected to work towards strengthening ties between their businessmen, exchange information on training programmes,  promote trade facilitation and transparent business environment, and encourage investment especially in agriculture, forestry and fishing, mining and quarrying, as well as manufacturing and processing, transport and communication, building, construction and finance.

The agreement requires the establishment of a joint committee comprising representatives of both parties with responsibility to monitor and examine the effective implementation of the agreement, discuss trade and economic issues of mutual interest, resolve associated challenges and propose recommendations for achieving the objectives of the agreement.

Two Nigerian businessmen, Aliko Dangote and Tony Elumelu have made the list of five nominees for the just released Forbes Africa Person of the Year 2012 prize.

Elumelu and Dangote are joined in the list by Malawian president Joyce Banda, Kenya’s Dr James Mwangi and South Africa’s Stephen Saad.

The Person of the Year award goes to a person who has influenced events on the African continent in the year gone by. The public can vote for the nominee who they believe best represents this on the Forbes Africa website.

Tony Elumelu, the chairman of Heirs Holdings and the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, holds two Economics Degrees and is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Programme. Elumelu began his banking career in 1985 and has not looked back.

Following an impressive stint with UBA (United Bank for Africa) he founded the proprietary investment company Heirs Holdings. Awards and honours include a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) from the Nigerian government as well as being voted African Business Leader of the Year and African Banker of the Year.

Aliko Dangote, chairman and CEO of the Dangote Group, is believed to be worth around USD 11.2Billion. Forbes magazine ranked him as the 76th richest person in the world. The Dangote Group trades in flour, Sugar and cement.

The Dangote sugar refinery is the third largest in the world. He is now diversifying into telecommunications, reportedly building fibre optic cables. In 2011 he was awarded a national honour – the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).

Joyce Banda is the President of Malawi. She was sworn in April this year following a three year stint as Vice-President. Since taking power Banda has smoothed revived diplomatic relations with the international community, announced her intention to overturn a ban on homosexuality and sold many of her own assets to reduce government spending.

Dr James Mwangi is the CEO and managing director of Kenya’s Equity Bank Limited, the bank with the largest customer base in Kenya. Mwangi has played a central role in turning the bank’s fortunes around – helping change it from a failing business to publically listed company it is now.  Mwangi was the winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award 2012 as well as Africa’s Innovation Leader of the Year Awards in 2012.

Stephen Saad co-founded Aspen Pharmacare in 1997; the company has grown by leaps and bounds and earned revenues in the region of USD 2Billion in 2011. The 47-year-old father of four became a millionaire when he was 29 after selling shares in Covan Zurich. Saad employs more than 6000 people.

As the year gradually rolls to end, the organisers of Carnival Calabar have expressed their preparedness to host a world-class carnival that will offer more excitement, fun and business to indigenes, visitors and sponsors than previous editions of the annual carnival.

In view of the development, Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State, has flagged off the first leg of the carnival Dry Run and also unveiled the carnival theme in a colourful event held recently at the Millennium Park, Calabar.

While commending the Cross River State Carnival Commission, organisers of the carnival, in his address at the flagging off ceremony, Imoke assured that the carnival is becoming self-sustaining with more private sector involvement.

The ultimate aim, according to him, is to make the carnival private sector-driven like other successful carnivals across the world and also to use the carnival platform to improve revenue generation, job creation, entertain visitors and to foster peace in the state.

Speaking on the theme of this year’s carnival: “Celebrating A New Dawn”, the Governor expressed the hope that the five participating carnival bands will through their dance, song and presentations interpret the theme which has a prize for correct interpretation.

He commended the team spirit of the team and urged the citizens, visitors and investors to work towards realizing the new dawn in the state’s tourism, hospitality, business among other sectors.

“As we celebrate the new dawn with great hope and expectations, we will combine a number of things to make Carnival Calabar a world class brand while the state remains a-must-visit for all”, Imoke noted.

The governor who was accompanied by his wife, Obioma, gave kudos to out-gone and incoming members of the state Carnival Commission for introducing ‘what will help the state realise its vision of a carnival that will grow from strength to strength and outgrow already established carnivals across the world.’

Speaking earlier, Dr Gabe Onah, chairman, Cross River State Carnival Commission, assured that the commission making efforts at putting everything in place to ensure that 2012 Carnival Calabar becomes one of the greatest events in Africa and beyond.

The successful Dry Run which flags off the 2012 Carnival events, according to him, is a sign of more excitement and unique outing that awaits visitors for the 32-day Carnival in the Canaan city.

Onah commended the strong and growing Public Private Partnership in the 2012 carnival which makes it more exciting than ever as a lot of surprises have been introduced to make it the first of its kind.

Onah noted that the private sector led by the corporate world should identify more with the carnival which is the largest street party in Nigeria because of the marketing, product activation, networking and among other corporate benefits that are on offer on the carnival platform.

“With the successful first leg of the Dry Run, three other ones will be held before the main carnival in December,” Onah said.

He further noted that the Dry Run mock carnival remains necessary to create more awareness, assess the level of preparedness of the band, and enable the organisers to make amendments that will lead to a successful outing at the grand finale.

One of the new events in this year’s edition is the Children Carnival Dry Run.

However, the five competitive bands in this year’s carnival are: Bayside Band (Blue), Passion Four (Green), Seagulls Band (Red), Master Blasta (Orange) and Freedom Band (Yellow). They participated in the mock carnival while security, the public transportation departments were at hand to ensure things were in order.

Ibadan residents got the thrill of a lifetime last Friday, October 19, when the train of the Africa Film Academy (AFA) organizers of the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) chose to stop over at the ancient city for the public screening of the movie, Alero Symphony, one of the works that bagged awards at the 2012 AMA Awards (AMAA).

The enthusiastic audience thronged the Theatre Art Hall, University of Ibadan, and were treated to the best of African films as they witnessed the best of film aesthetics.

The road show which had started at Benin City, the Edo state capital, has now screened three of the award winning films which include: Adesuwa, Otelo Burning and Alero Symphony. The films which were produced in Nigeria, South Africa are been positioned as pride of African films as they have gone on to win several awards outside the continent.

As part of its commitment to promoting local and international films that focus on Africa, the screening is AFA’s platform for creating an experiential engagement between African movie stakeholders and their numerous fans.

Speaking on the significance of the film screening, Chief Executive Officer of the Africa Film Academy, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, noted that the viewing of 2012 AMAA winning movies is part of AFA’s efforts to promote African film and cinema locally and internationally.

“Africa film makers work hard with very little and managed to build a virile film industry recognized worldwide in terms of both production quality and profitability while also exploring film as a vehicle for development. AMAA was therefore conceptualized to reward African filmmakers,” said Anyiam-Osigwe.

Also commenting on the screening, the Production Manager, AMAA, Mr. Fredrick Aregogo stated that the credibility given to AMAA has necessitated that fans view the films so they can judge themselves.

According to him, “some of these award winning films sometimes are not released on DVD in time for people to buy and watch them. So, this road show is an avenue to bridge that gap and tell our fans thank you”.

Some of the celebrities, actors and actresses who attended the screening are: Toyin Adegbola, Tola Oladokun, Dupe Jaiyesinmi, Tunbosun Odunsi, Adeola Adeniyi, Bose Akinola among others.

The AMAA road show train moves to Lagos on October 30, 2012.

African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) is the largest and most prestigious awards ceremony for the African film industry with business hubs in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana. The AMAA event has over 53 countries participating annually.

Established in 2005, hundreds of filmmakers and international celebrities have participated in AMAA’s various initiatives. AMAA has a year-long schedule of activities with the major highlight being nomination into the 24 categories of the award. Winners of the awards are announced at an elaborate event usually televised to over 50 million viewers across Africa and the rest of the world.

After a tough competition across all sub-Saharan Africa, MTV has announced that Nigerian superstar D’Banj is the Best African Act of the “2012 MTV EMA,” having received the most votes from fans across sub-Saharan Africa.

Hosted by supermodel, entrepreneur and hometown girl Heidi Klum, the 19th annual awards show will broadcast live from Frankfurt’s historic Festhalle, Sunday, November 11, on MTV.

D’Banj has previously won Best African Act at the 2007 MTV EMA, Artist of the Year at both the 2008 and 2009 MTV Africa Music Awards, and Best International Act: Africa at the 2011 BET Awards.

D’Banjwill now vie against India’s Alobo Naga & the Band and Ahmed Soultan from the Middle East for the chance to represent the region in the Worldwide Act category, which celebrates the range and breadth of all the music that MTV has to offer by showcasing incredible artists from all parts of the world. From now until October 30, fans will be able to vote for their favourite regional act on http://www.mtvema.com.

The representative for the Africa/India/Middle East region will be announced Tuesday, October 30, along with the other regional winners from Europe, Latin America, North America and Asia Pacific. These five regional nominees will then battle for votes for the “Worldwide Act” distinction, and the winner will be named at the show in Frankfurt.

Taylor Swift, Muse, No Doubt, Carly Rae Jepsen, fun. and Rita Ora are confirmed to perform at the “2012 MTV EMA.”

MTV will announce additional EMA performers and presenters at a later date. As previously announced, Rihanna and Taylor Swift top the list of the “2012 MTV EMA” nominees with six and five nods, respectively, with Justin Bieber and Katy Perry following closely behind with four nominations each.

Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey, Nicki Minaj, Carly Rae Jepsen, fun., Jay Z and Kanye West each received three EMA nominations, while Green Day, Gotye, Pitbull, Flo Rida, Rita Ora, Muse, Arctic Monkeys, Jack White and One Direction are up for two awards.

President of the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council), Mr. Sanjay Bayisi, has invited the American University of Nigeria (AUN) to host next year’s Global Cyberlympics Ethical Hacking Competition, an international Cyber security challenge.

The occasion of the announcement was at the Cyber Security World Conference recently held at the Nigerian Military Headquarters in Abuja.

The Global Cyberlympics is a non-profit initiative organized by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) Foundation. Its goal is to raise awareness towards increased education and ethics in information security through cyber competitions that encompass forensics, ethical hacking and defense with the objective of fostering child online protection through education. The mission statement of the competition is “Unifying Global Cyber Defense through the Games.”

The EC-Council Foundation is dedicated to educating and training individuals in security skills. It was established in 2012 by the founders of the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants to raise awareness, build capacity across nations, and promote global peace, while ensuring that the global community becomes more aware of the immediate need to protect children online.

Two supporters of the competitions are the International Multilateral Partnership against Cyber Threats (IMPACT) and International Telecommunications Union (ITU) – the cyber security arm of the United Nations.  According to Moh’d Noor Amin (President of IMPACT), the competition “could help to foster a greater sense of partnership and cooperation between countries on the issue of cyber security.”

A statement by the Dean of AUN’s School of Information Technology and Computing, Dr. Mathias Fonkam, said that the invitation was made to AUN in recognition of its “pool of resources and excellent infra-structure in Information Technology and Computing.”

This year’s competition will take place in Miami, Florida, the United States (from October 25 to 31).

Last year’s competition was in Virginia, also in United States, where the Dutch team emerged champions with Team USA and Hungary finishing as first and second runners-up.

The captain of the Deloitte, Netherlands, team, Mr. Steven Raspe, described the difference of Cyberlympics from other cyber games in its approach. “Cyberlympics presents a unique set of challenges that puts teams in real life situations like how to deal with offensive hacking strategies and deploying defensive capabilities to prevent being hacked.”

The competition usually features some of the greatest minds in information security.  Dr. Fonkam has initiated a series of intensive Ruby programming workshops that will be held on Saturdays in room B09 from 9 am to 12 noon. SITC students, especially those studying computer science and software engineering, are encouraged to attend the training.