Check Safety First has announced that 60 big name hotels including  Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Barcelo and Hard Rock Hotels have signed up to the RoomCheck auditing system, following the successful launch of its room hygiene module in January.

This comes at a time when hotels are demanding a more scientific approach to maintaining cleanliness and ensuring standards are consistent throughout.

Mark Harrington, CEO at Check Safety First, said: “Hotel rooms with poor hygiene standards are health risks and can lead to the transmission of infections such as staphylococcus aureus, E. Coli and norovirus, to name a few. Hotels tend to think they are on top of hygiene but even the most luxurious ones can slip up. This can not only damage a hotel’s reputation but lead to potential lawsuits.”

RoomCheck uses forensic techniques such as ultraviolet lights that illuminate stains and problems associated with pests. Monthly bedrooms and bathrooms audits also ensure that no hygiene issue is left unidentified.

The module is part of Check Safety First’s E-Cristal risk management system which helps protect some of the world’s leading hotels from risks such as food safety, hygiene, legionella control, fire and general safety.

Africa airport infrastructure development and investment must be improved for the continent’s aviation industry to continue to grow, according to OAG’s latest Aviation Market Insight Report.

Analysis from OAG, the global leader in aviation intelligence and a UBM Aviation brand, reveals that whilst airline capacity has grown recently within Africa broadly in line with GDP increases, at 5 per cent annually, the expansion has not been matched by investment within the airport infrastructure.

According to the report, the smaller airports across the region are still struggling with infrastructure challenges combined, in some cases, with general poor facilities. And as widely reported in the world’s media, most states lack the ability to accommodate transit passengers between airports. If the economies of these countries are to fully realise their potential and aspired growth plans, then the airport infrastructure will have to be addressed and more progress made.

Where infrastructure investments have been made in Africa, the aviation industry has flourished the report maintains. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in Nigeria, Kenya and of course South Africa. In 2011, South African Airways posted revenues of almost US$3bn, up by 2 per cent compared to 2010, whilst Kenya Airways, who joined the Skyteam Alliance in 2010, reported year-on-year revenue growth of 21.3 per cent up to US$988m.

No doubt due to its huge geographic expanse, the continent has traditionally been overlooked for more established destinations by investors. Is that all set to change?

International Sales Director (Europe & Africa) at OAG, Mory Camara, believes it is, pointing to China’s increasing influence within the region, “China looks to be taking a long-term investment approach in Africa, with the Strategic Mineral Reserve and the China-Africa Development Fund two examples of China’s developing relationships in Africa. As the economic benefits of these trade arrangements are felt on the continent, the Aviation industry and the demand for air travel will increase as it has done in other countries as they were developing”.

The optimism for the future though is tempered by the basic fact that the infrastructure needs to be developed in line with the rate of development of the carriers. Only by bringing the governments, airlines and investors together can Africa really start to develop its potential.

Since its formal launch in December 2010 and with stops in Edo State, Abuja, the Bring Back the Book project of President Goodluck Jonathan seemed to have been consumed in the political, economic and insecurity challenges confronting the country as it had laid inactive for a year or thereabout.

However, the novel initiative by President Jonathan at lifting the rather uncomfortable literacy level of the populace with the children and the youth as the major target bounced back into reckoning last week with the official Bayelsa State launch.

The launch was highlighted by the formal commissioning of the Prof. E.J Alagoa Library, in Yenagoa, the state capital, a project itself realised in partnership with the Community Defence Law Foundation (CDLF), as well as the donation of 50 computers to selected schools and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) in the state by a businessman, Alhaji Musa Bello, as a way of boosting the President’s book initiative.

The Bring Back the Book campaign launch in Bayelsa is also believed to be a timely intervention in government’s efforts as eradicating illiteracy in the country in general and the Niger Delta region in particular and also as a springboard to reach the riverine communities in need of education.

It was no surprise therefore as school children, mothers, educationists, government officials, media practitioners, artistes thronged the Gloryland Cultural centre, in Yenagoa for the Thursday, July 12 event which had Prof John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo as chairman, Prof E.J Alagoa as Guest of Honour, in addition to the special performance by top rap music artiste MI as attraction.

Such Nollywood stars like Desmond Elliot, Omotola Jalade-Ekehinde, Dakore Egbuson, were also thrown in the mix to endorse the project launch which went a long way in impressing on the teeming school children present on the need to embrace the quest for education.

As it turned out, the endorsement by MI and the Nollywood stars who themselves took turns to read out popular poems by such iconic Nigerian writers as JP Clark and Gabriel Okara, impressed the children who responded in wild reception and applause to their admonishments.

Opening the floor for remarks, Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Research and Strategy, Dr. Oronto Douglas said the country cannot afford to be left behind as the world nears the second half of the 21st century in which countries of the world position for dominance in the information technology and communication.

“The 21st Century will be dictated by a country rich in knowledge. We are already in the second phase of that era and if Nigeria is to drive that development then the launch of the Bring Back the Book in Bayelsa represents a milestone in spearheading this growth,” Douglas noted.

Notably, each child present was handed a school bag containing 8 books selected with the aim, according to Douglas, of helping the children to grow and enrich their personal libraries.

For Prof Clark, the best legacy any child should be left with is the knowledge of books, hence, his personal choice to identify with the project; further adding: “I’m giving my children books and the exposure to knowledge. They shouldn’t expect land, or houses from me. The choice of pursuit of knowledge from reading of books is a great choice in life.”

On his part, Prof Alagoa, who has the library dedicated in his honour, the future of the Niger Delta peoples lies in the development of their human resources and capacity.

State governor, Seriake Dickson, who was represented on the occasion by the Secretary to the Bayelsa State Government (SSG), Prof. Edmund-Allison Oguru, corroborated Prof Alagoa’s position when he restated that the development of human resources of any state was key to any meaningful overall progress.

“If you want to develop the society you start with the human resources. We’ll do all that we can to ensure that we bring back the book so that meritocracy and good governance are returned to the state system as the launch will be followed by the upgrading of schools and capacity building  as well as provision of free textbooks and school uniforms in the state,” the governor stressed.

President Goodluck Jonathan who was also represented at the event by the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, said the idea behind the Bring back the Book project remains to reinvigorate the reading culture in the country which in turn should drive development in all sectors of the economy.

Noting major feats in the literary world achieved of recent by the country, like the recent naming of Port Harcourt as the UNESCO World Book Capital for 2014, the literary award to Babatunde Rotimi, and others, President Jonathan remarked that: “If we can catch them young, our children will be productive citizens in the future. Give a child a book and he or she will enable the success of the future generations to come.”

Wife of the state governor Mrs Rachael Seriake Dickson, widow of late human rights activist and playwright, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Mrs Maria Saro-Wiwa, Rev Canon Stephen Davies and wife, were among dignitaries who graced the occasion.

The Bring Back the Book initiative is a brainchild of President Jonathan established with a view to developing a book reading culture in Nigeria especially amongst the youth who have seemingly lost value for reading either for educational purposes or entertainment.

The initiative seeks to empower the youth for the future by preparing them for the opportunities and challenges faced by us as a people by engaging in series of activities designed to encourage the culture of reading amongst the youths.

The initiative was formally launched December 20, 2010 in an event that had a balanced mix of its audiences in attendance at the Expo Centre of the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island Lagos Nigeria.

With laudable objectives like revitalising the reading culture, with knowledge serving as a tool for development; projecting the nation’s culture, for survival, sustenance and protection, the project engages in organizing book readings in educational institutions at all levels across the country, establishment of Bring Back Book clubs in educational institutions to serve as hubs for development of intellectual capacity of the youths, support for literary events and projects.

In addition, the project also engages in creation of platform for national discussion on ways to develop the educational system cum reading culture, conducting research and supporting organizations carrying out related  activities, support the production of books locally by encouraging publishers via buying of books for distribution to libraries nationwide, construction, refurbishment and stocking of libraries across the country, and organizing  national competitions aimed at driving the culture of  book reading in the country.

Global aviation regulatory and monitoring agencies, International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have urged ministers attending the African Ministerial Meeting on Aviation Safety being held in Abuja, to endorse and adopt the Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan.

The plan will enhance safety by addressing deficiencies and strengthening regulatory oversight in the region progressively to 2015.

The Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan called  for the establishment of independent and sufficiently funded civil aviation authorities; Implementation of effective and transparent safety oversight systems by all African States; Completion of an IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) by all African carriers; Implementation of accident prevention measures focused on runway safety and loss of control; Implementation of Flight Data Analysis (FDA); and Implementation of Safety Management Systems (SMS) by all service providers.

IATA, ICAO and leading aviation stakeholders and regulatory organizations committed to this plan following the Africa Safety Summit held in Johannesburg in May 2012. The key areas were developed based on an analysis of air transport accidents in Africa between 2006-2010 conducted by IATA and ICAO. This analysis identified that the main contributing factors to accidents were insufficient regulatory oversight and the lack of SMS implementation. Implementation of tools such as FDA could have pinpointed precursors to the major accident types, namely runway excursions, controlled flight into terrain and loss of control. Runway excursions alone accounted for about a quarter of African accidents. This plan must also include the urgent resolution of all identified Significant Safety Concerns (SSCs) and the certification of all international airports.

“For ICAO, States with significant safety concerns are a priority, and I cannot stress enough that they should be the priority of all stakeholders,” emphasized ICAO Council President Roberto Kobeh González.

Several ongoing IATA and ICAO initiatives and programmes contribute towards the Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan:

1. ICAO has placed specific emphasis on urgently addressing all identified SSCs by 2013 and adopting and implementing an effective safety oversight system. ICAO is working with African States whose audit results under the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme require improvement. ICAO and those States developed Tailored Plans of Action that will outline the series of steps necessary to improve regulatory capabilities, and therefore safety. Simultaneously, ICAO and IATA hosted a one-day workshop on the steps necessary to address SSCs.

2. IATA, ICAO and other international organizations have developed a Runway Safety Program with a series of workshops being held worldwide. The next African event is 29-30 October 2012, in Cape Town. An event is planned for Western Africa in March 2013. The Runway Safety Toolkit is available on both the IATA and ICAO websites, free of charge.

3. The IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), which is a requirement for membership in IATA, includes standards that provide a baseline SMS assessment. “Global standards such as IOSA are a proven way to improve aviation safety. In 2011, Africa-based operators on the IOSA registry had an accident rate of 1.84 per million flights, which is close to the world IOSA average of 1.73. By comparison non-IOSA operators in Africa had an accident rate of 9.31,” said Guenther Matschnigg, IATA Senior Vice President, Safety, Operations and Infrastructure. “The 2012 Western-built Jet accident rate for Africa as of 30 June was 6.28 which is 92 per cent higher than last year at the same time. This increase in the accident rate reflects the two tragic accidents in Nigeria last month that remind us that safety is a constant challenge — even in states with a solid safety leadership. However, no IOSA registered carriers based in Africa have been involved in accidents in 2012 at the time of this report, confirming the efficiency of complying with the audit’s 900 + standards. Therefore we urge the African Transport Ministers to mandate IOSA for all carriers in the region, “said Matschnigg.

4. The use of FDA is another key tool to improve safety. The IATA Implementation Program for Safe Operations in Africa (IPSOA) ensured that flight data analysis tools are available to all IATA carriers in Africa. “Participating carriers have seen a 56 per cent reduction in deviations from optimum flight trajectories and the top five airports with unstable approaches have also been identified,” said Matschnigg.

5. ICAO has just released an updated Safety Management Manual which provides significant new guidance on the State Safety Program, the segment targeted for regulators. This document, and resulting training, will assist all ICAO States in implementing safety management.

The funding of the proposed action plan will be shared according to the functions and responsibilities of the entities involved in each initiative.

A meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Steering Committee to guide a two-phased study on the establishment of baseline data for evaluating key programmes under the regional five-year strategic plan for realizing the community’s vision has ended in Lagos.

The meeting which ended last Friday, July 12 and which is the second meeting of the committee discussed the report of a consultant on the first phase of the study designed to select the programmes eligible for effective evaluation of ECOWAS regional integration.

The strategic plan is to enable the ECOWAS Commission and other community institutions comply with the six strategic priorities for realizing the 2020 Vision for a people-driven Community.

The six priorities relate to the promotion of good governance; creating a competitive business environment; ensuring sustained development and regional cooperation; deepening economic and monetary integration; reinforcing institutional capacity and the strengthening of the mechanism for inserting the region into the global economy. The first phase of the study was launched in April 2012 and the first meeting of the Steering Committee validated the methodology that helped identify objective criteria for the selection of key programmes according to the strategic goals.

According to Mr. Akou Adjogou, Head of the Commission’s Monitoring and Evaluation (M & E) Unit, the work done so far would facilitate the development of baseline data for the selected programmes.

Opening the meeting on behalf of Vice President Dr. Toga McIntosh, the head of M &E extolled the value of the exercise to the effective monitoring and evaluation of Community programmes to ensure compliance with the tenets of the strategic plan and objectives of the organisations vision 2020 programme for a citizen-centred Community.

The two-day meeting of the inter-institutional steering committee also reviewed the draft format proposed by the consultant for the performance measurement framework for the periodic evaluation of projects and programmes, as well as the indicators proposed for programmes and projects to be used in generating the baseline data.

Other officials of the Commission’s M & E Unit and representatives of the German Cooperation for Development (GIZ) which is supporting the study attended the meeting.

Leading telecommunications services provider, Airtel Nigeria has partnered with Arsenal Football Club to bring four first-team players of the prestigious London Club to Lagos, Nigeria.

The players are expected in Lagos later this month and have been scheduled to take part in exclusive Airtel events and engage with supporters in Nigeria.

Tomas Rosicky, Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker and new signing Lukas Podolski will travel to Lagos with club officials for a flying visit the weekend after next. The players will take part in club events and other activities organised by Airtel.

The move follows the postponement of Arsenal’s game against Nigeria which was scheduled for Sunday, August 5. Arsenal’s head of global partnerships Vinai Venkatesham said: “We were disappointed to have to postpone the game and intend to visit Nigeria next summer. However we are delighted to be bringing this group of players to Nigeria to take part in events with our regional partners. It will give us a chance to

engage with local supporters and reinforce our commitment to the market.”

The players will take part in a busy schedule of events in Lagos. The players will also be making appearances for mobile network operator Airtel. Deepak Srivastava, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director for

Airtel Nigeria, said: “Arsenal has a very large supporter base in Nigeria and Airtel is eager to connect these fans with some of their favourite football players.

“Indeed, Airtel is extremely committed to creating opportunities to excite and engage telecommunications consumers just as we are passionate about realizing our brand vision of being the most-loved brand in the daily lives of Nigerians.”

Airtel Burkina Faso, the largest mobile company in the country, has launched its mobile money platform named Airtel Money, or m-ligdi, in partnership with Ecobank. The platform allows consumers to top up their phones with air time, send and receive money, pay their critical utility bills, access their bank accounts.

The press conference for the launch took place in Ouagadougou and was attended by  the Minister of Transport, Post and the Digital Economy, the Minister of Economy and Finance, the national Director of the

Central Bank of West Africa States, the CEO of the Regulatory Authority and the managing directors of Airtel Burkina Faso and Ecobank.

In many developing regions, including Africa, the availability of formal financial services is limited to certain geographic and income ranges, often leaving the majority of the population to rely on unreliable and costly informal channels for their financial transactions. Against this backdrop, the total value of mobile money transfers in Africa is estimated to exceed US$200 billion in 2015 due to users’ growing trust

in the system and the growing range of services provided. Key market players, banks and mobile operators in particular, are keen to address this opportunity.

Commenting on the launch, John Ndego, Airtel Managing Director said: “Today is a very important day for us as we introduce Airtel Money in Burkina Faso to address this much needed gap by providing access to banking services, initially through money transfers and purchase of goods and services through electronic payments.”

He continued “On a day to day basis with Airtel Money, you no longer have to carry cash. All you need is your mobile telephone. This service allows customers to send money to loved ones, pay essential utility bills such as electricity or water, settle grocery bills in the supermarket and even top up your phone with airtime.”

According to Cheikh Travaly, Director of Ecobank, “Everything is done to fully support the efforts of Airtel SA Burkina Faso in order to improve the lives of our people with this new electronic payment service.

Ecobank has given will support Airtel to ensure that the product being launched is efficient and secure. We encourage everyone to take advantage of this great service.”

“I would therefore like to congratulate Airtel for launching this service and I am sure it will be highly appreciated by many in Burkina Faso. The service will extend the financial inclusion program launched by Ecobank in Burkina Faso and will have a tangible positive impact on the community, “he added.

Airtel Money, strengthen its commitment to provide affordable and innovative solutions to all. The platform, allows consumers and communities to take maximum advantage of the mobile commerce reality sweeping through the industry by enabling them to conduct a range of financial transactions quickly and easily.

Aside from the direct transfer of funds from one user to another, Airtel Money also simplifies the lives of its customers by allowing them to conduct a range of other financial transactions using their handsets such as bill payments, top ups and mobile banking.

The transactions will be very simple and also completely secure. All a customer needs is a mobile phone and a personal password every time they want to carry out a transaction. To benefit from this service, a simple registration process is required. The customer should be an Airtel Customer, have a valid ID document and fill out a registration form.

Ndego reiterated Airtel’s commitment to ensure that Airtel Money will be available in all the regions where the network is available. He also encouraged customers to take advantage of this service.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) reached a critical milestone by formally establishing the metric that will form the basis of a new ICAO CO2 standard. The final agreement on the standard was made during a meeting in Saint-Petersburg, Russia.

Since 2010, when the ICAO Council directed CAEP to develop the standard, ICCAIA, alongside ICAO member states, intergovernmental agencies and non-governmental organizations, has worked extensively to develop a robust, fair and equitable metric system.  The way is now set for CAEP to complete the work on a new standard that will achieve reductions in aviation fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by addressing aircraft technological improvements.

The new metric system defines how aircraft CO2 emissions can be evaluated in a manner that is relevant to its operation. It is based on fuel used per unit distance at three different cruise conditions, which represents a broad spectrum of aircraft utilization. In order to cope with the wide range of aircraft sizes, the metric accounts for fuselage geometry and maximum take-off weight.

The aerospace industry is committed to continued efficiency improvements through technological improvements, operational efficiencies, airspace redesign and the introduction of sustainable alternative fuels. Not only are aircraft 70 percent more fuel efficient than 50 years ago, but the industry has committed to carbon neutral growth after 2020. This standard will be a vital addition to the basket of measures that the industry can use to achieve its carbon emission reduction goals.

Future Group, publishers of Business Traveller Africa magazine, and their Nigerian partners, TopComm have concluded plans to host their second annual West Africa Business Travel Conference and Expo, in association with headline sponsor, Delta Air Lines and associate sponsors, MasterCard, W Hospitality Group and GHI Assets.

The one-day conference and expo, which takes place at the Federal Palace Hotel in Lagos, Monday July 23, is expected to feature delegates discussing pertinent African business travel issues, in and around a series of engaging panel discussions, involving some of South Africa and Nigeria’s top business travel industry speakers.

The theme of this year’s event is “Strengthening Business Travel in West Africa” and the day will feature four main discussion topics: Airlines – The challenges that airlines face – the impact of the rising fuel price, poor track record, safety issues and relationships with travel buyers. What impact does this have on the business travel industry?; Banks/Financial Services – A look at what the current trends in travel financial services are, and their effect on West African business travel and trade. What are the talking points, both from a bank/travel finance group point of view, and from the perspective of the TMC?;

Other topics expected to dominate discourse include: Hotels – Raising the bar for service excellence in the West African hospitality industry, and why this is an important element in securing business travel business. Also, a look at the trends and where the activity is in West Africa, with regards new properties and options for the business traveller, along with an examination of West Africa as a viable option for meetings and conferences; TMC’s – What the issues are facing travel management companies and their relationships with airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. How do TMCs survive, where are the hotspots, and how do they secure the best deals for business travellers in and out of West Africa? Also, a look at African visa regulations and their impact on business travel between countries.

“It’s the ideal event for executives and decision makers across the business travel spectrum, including hospitality, airline, automotive, forex, travel management companies, banks, travel finance services, government agencies, insurance, travel tour agencies and corporate business travellers. It also promises to be an interesting day, debating the most pressing business travel issues and those that inform the industry itself,” said the event’s organizers.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) last Wednesday named Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital city, as the 2014 World Book Capital.

Port Harcourt was named the World Book Capital after the Selection Committee, composed of representatives from the three leading international publishing associations and from UNESCO, met on July 5 at the Organization’s Headquarters.

“I extend my congratulations to the city of Port Harcourt for the quality of its proposed programme, which provides for extensive public participation and aims to develop reading for all,” said UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, in a news release. “I wholeheartedly endorse the commitment of Port Harcourt to support literacy through the activities organized for the year.”

According to the agency, its selection committee chose Port Harcourt for the quality of the programme it presented. It focused on youth and the impact it will have on improving Nigeria’s culture of books, reading, writing and publishing to improve literacy rates.

The selection committee, which met at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, brings together associations in the book industry – the International Publishers Association, the International Booksellers Federation and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions – as well as representatives from the culture agency.

Each year, the committee bestows the title of World Book Capital to a city which has committed itself to promoting books and reading, and to highlight the vitality of literary creativity. The nomination does not imply any financial prize, but it is an exclusively symbolic acknowledgement of the best programme dedicated to books and reading, UNESCO said.

Port Harcourt is the 14th city to be designated World Book Capital following Madrid (2001), Alexandria (2002), New Delhi (2003), Antwerp (2004), Montreal (2005), Turin (2006), Bogotá (2007), Amsterdam (2008), Beirut (2009), Ljubljana (2010), Buenos Aires (2011), Yerevan (2012) and Bangkok (2013).

The Director-General also welcomed the number and quality of applications received by UNESCO for the title of World Book Capital 2014.

Each year, UNESCO and the three international publishing organizations, the International Publishers Association (IPA), International Booksellers Federation (IBF) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA, select the World Book Capital for a one-year period, effective 23 April each year.

This initiative, in addition to the celebration of World Book and Copyright Day, represents a collaborative undertaking by key stakeholders in the publishing world and cities to promote books and literacy.