unwtoWorld body’s tourism agency, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has announced the invitations for submissions of entries and nominations for the 2013 Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism.

The awards acknowledge the achievements of exceptional leadership in the sector.

According to the UNWTO, all nominations ahead of this year’s edition of the prestigious awards should be submitted before October 1, 2013.

Since the inception of the UNWTO Awards in 2003, the World Tourism Organization has recognized the contribution of scholars and institutions – public, private or NGOs – to innovative tourism initiatives, including tourism communications, groundbreaking online management tools or poverty alleviation projects through tourism.

“The contribution of the awardees to UNWTO’s mission to promote tourism as a vehicle for sustainable development and international understanding is extremely valuable,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. “In recognizing exceptional tourism leaders, scholars, institutions and companies, we aim at inspiring the global tourism family to keep pursuing competitive and sustainable tourism development through knowledge and innovation,” he added.

The Awards ceremony will take place on 22 January 2014 during the Madrid International Tourism Trade Fair FITUR and will be followed by the UNWTO Knowledge Network Symposium (23 January 2014), which will stage the best practices awarded.

iata icaoDespite the global air transport industry achieving a record improvement in jet safety performance, the high airline accident rate in Africa is still a concern, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

IATA said that the total accident rate for all jet airliners in Africa during 2012 was 10.85 accidents per million flight hours, compared to a world average of 2.00. The European Community (EU) has even gone as far as to ban a large number of African airlines from operating within the UE due to safety concerns over alleged poor maintenance and regulatory oversight.

Speaking at the recently held IATA 69th Annual General Meeting in Cape Town, Gunther Matschnigg, Senior Vice President, Safety, Operations & Infrastructure, explained that, “the total accident rate for Africa has improved compared to last year, but at 7.98 accidents per millions flights, they are still more than four times the global average.”

The global average airline accident rate to end April 2013 stands at 1.73. IATA member airlines, who are held to stricter safety standards, currently have a figure of 0.97.

Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said that safety is one of the issues preventing Africa from reaching its full potential. “It is also a continent with serious issues,” is how Tyler described it, with safety being the biggest challenge facing African aviation.

In light of the high African accident statistics, IATA and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), in partnership with various African aviation organisations, established a Task Force to investigate the matter.

After analysis, the Task Force found that the main influencing factors responsible for accidents in Africa were: Lack of effective regulatory oversight; Lack of implementation of flight Data Analysis; and Lack of Safety Management System implementation.

The two predominant accident types were runway excursions and loss of control in flight.

As a result, the Africa Aviation Safety Summit was convened in Johannesburg in May 2012 and presented an African Strategic Safety Improvement Action Plan for 2012-2015.

This Action Plan subsequently became part of the Abuja Declaration on Aviation Safety in Africa, endorsed by African Ministers responsible for transport, in Abuja in July 2012. The African Union Executive council endorsed the Abuja Declaration and associated Plan of Action during the 22nd Session in Addis Ababa in January 2013.

As Matschnigg said, “it’s a piece of paper, we need to make a commitment out of it.”

The result of IATA’s activities is the African Strategic Safety Improvement Plan 2012-2015, which aims at tackling the poor safety performance in the region.

Referring to the European Union’s banning of certain airlines in many African countries, airlines plan to roll out a safety management system in accordance with the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). It is widely recognised that the IOSA, which is mandatory for all IATA member airlines, is a significant contributor to IATA members’ low hull loss rate.

“IATA’s 20 sub-Saharan members are performing in line with the global average on safety as are the 24 sub-Saharan airlines that have met the 900+ standards of the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA),” Tyler said.

“But if we look at the entire African industry, safety remains a challenge with an overall accident rate many times the global average…World class safety is possible in Africa and that we support their commitment to achieving it by 2015.”

The benefits of using IOSA are numerous, with IATA members and other IOSA-registered carriers in Africa registering zero accidents in 2012 and through to 30 April 2013.

IOSA has been offered to African governments and airlines free of charge, with various workshops held with airlines, regulators and stakeholders. IATA hopes to bring 10 additional African-based airlines onto the IOSA registry by 2015.

To date, 10 carriers have been identified and six operators have received the first of three workshops they require to enable them to prepare for a successful IOSA audit outcome.

It is clear that that IATA is committed to supporting these airlines, but requires the commitment of the airline’s senior management to make changes.

“We will do our utmost to help them to pass by the end of 2015,” Matschnigg says. “What will happen if they don’t is up to the individual regulators.”

nigeriaFollowing the January 9, 2013 approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, has announced the first week of July as date for the formal unveiling of a new tourism brand identity for Nigeria.

Duke who revealed that date at a media briefing which held at the VIP Lounge of the National Theatre, Friday, said the move had become imperative and long overdue, also used the occasion to present literature backing the proposed launch fixed for Abuja.

To be known as Fascinating Nigeria, the concept, according to Duke, which took a year to develop, is in line with best destination marketing practices that have seen popular and tourism powerhouses in the world evolve ethos in consonance with their products.

“It is my belief that Nigeria deserves to have a distinctive tourism brand identity. In several fora where the issue of the masterplan have been discussed some of the stakeholders have raised the fact that we have not done enough in refreshing the Nigerian tourism brand, which to me is like owning a brewery without a product.

“We have therefore been working in the last one year in developing a distinct tourism brand identity. Some of us are aware that most countries renowned as exotic tourism destinations have something that speak for the ethos of the products by way of tourism brand identities and I’m sure we all remember the days of South Africa’s Limitless Possibilities, Impossible and others. Nigeria, the biggest black nation on earth deserves more than that,” said Duke.

According to the minister, the media launch pre-launch will be backed by preliminary activation of promotional campaigns in selected mass media, just as he explained that an extensive marketing strategy for the tourism brand identity will follow the formal launch in Abuja.

“On January 9, 2013, a tourism brand identity was approved by the Federal Executive Council for the country and it became expeditious for us aggressively towards the formal launch. Hence the first week of July we expect the formal launch of this brand to take place and before then also we expect the social media to commence airing of the brand. Also we are unveiling some of the collaterals and elements of those collaterals backing this brand,” Duke stressed.

Duke who was accompanied at the media presentation by the newly-appointed Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs Sally Mbanefo and General Manager of the National Theatre, Mr. Kabiru Yusuf, explained the launch represented a response by the country to similar strategies employed by other countries to corner the global tourism market at the expense of Nigerians.

“As a source market for the tourism revenue of several worlds, we deserve more. I sat and listened to President Jacob Zuma as he related to President Goodluck Jonathan recently on how his country has immensely benefitted from Nigerians visiting and spending in his country, I think Nigeria deserves a swift, appropriate and dignified response; and not a response in that kind of sense but a response in the sense that we also have something that we can be proud of,” he said.

Continuing, Duke explained the first stages of marketing to involve the utilization of the social media platforms by way of limited activations as well as literatures detailing the concept of Fascinating Nigeria.

“There will be appropriate activations within the limit of our resources to promote the product and in the next few weeks some social media will begin preliminary exposure of the new tourism brand identity for the country.

“On the day of the formal launch also we also intend to unveil some of the various other brand strategies we have developed in the ministry. It is my belief that when we have this going we will then be talking about a truly identifiable tourism brand. I love to hear people talk about Incredible India, Malaysia Truly Asia, and all the likes.

“Our brand identity is Fascinating Nigeria because there is nowhere else in the world where this appellation best suits, whether it is in business, nature’s endowment, investment climate, agriculture, whatever, tourism is the first letter of recommendation and our culture is a major collateral for it to activate,” the minister stated.

Introducing Mbanefo to the media, Duke explained that her choice for the position by federal government was informed by the need to woo the private sector into the tourism subsector of the economy against the backdrop of the impending termination of public funding for the NTDC with effect from 2018.

“It was the recommendation of the Oronsaye Panel that the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) be excluded from benefitting from public funding with effect from 2014, but with appeals by the ministry that decision by the federal government was rescinded and extended to 2018. Mbanefo’s appointment is therefore informed by the need to co-opt the active and full participation and support of the private sector in the tourism industry since she has spent over 25 years in the private sector serving as chief executive to some multi-national corporations,” Duke explained.

Remarking, Mbanefo assured of transforming Nigeria’s domestic tourism industry, as she promised to give the sector high priority under her tenure.

She outlined her focus to be the development of inbound tourism as she noted that ‘before we can successfully sell Nigerian tourism brand to the outside world we must address the domestic market potentials, secure the buy-in and confidence of Nigerians in the sector and get Nigerians to be proud of their tourism heritage and industry.’

The development of the domestic tourism would also entail other core mandates which include job creation, poverty alleviation and revenue generation.

sally mbanefoNewly-appointed Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, has assured of transforming Nigeria’s domestic tourism industry, as she promised to give the sector high priority under her tenure.

In her early meetings with the management and staff of the corporation since her resumption two weeks ago the new NTDC chief outlined her focus to be the development of inbound tourism as she noted that ‘before we can successfully sell Nigerian tourism brand to the outside world we must address the domestic market potentials, secure the buy-in and confidence of Nigerians in the sector and get Nigerians to be proud of their tourism heritage and industry.’

The development of the domestic tourism would also entail other core mandates which include job creation, poverty alleviation and revenue generation.

The critical focus of the meetings were on development of the Tourism Value Chain across the country to realise the objectives for which the Corporation was set up as well as meeting the core mandate of the supervising ministry of tourism.

Programmes of the new NTDC, according to sources in the corporation, shall be determined and executed in line with the mission of the Tourism Ministry which is engaging with stakeholders to reinvent and reposition Nigerian Tourism sector for the emergence of an integrated, vibrant, globally competitive, skilled, professional, private sector-driven industry through strategic international corporation, investment promotion and a strong regulatory and corporative inter-governmental environment that generates employment and alleviates poverty for sustainable national economic advantage.

In this connection the new DG was said to have indicated that NTDC, working in close partnership with other parastatals shall be implementing the Tourism Master Plan geared towards the promotion of Nigeria’s rich tourism potentials through identification, development and marketing of the diverse tourism opportunities.

In addition and in line with the core-mandate of the supervising Ministry, the new NTDC shall be active in promoting tourism as a foreign exchange earner, income re- distributor, major revenue earner to the federal government, major employer of labour as well as a catalyst for rural development and poverty reduction.

Key officials of the NTDC expressed optimism that the new DG was bringing her over 26 years private sector experience to bear in delivering excellent results in the various functional areas of the corporation.

Mbanefo has wide range managerial experience in both national and multinational corporations most of which were at top executive level, spanning banking and finance, oil and gas, manufacturing as well as not-for-profit organizations. Some of the organizations include Keystone Bank Ltd (former Bank PHB) where she was an Executive Director, Allied Energy Plc where she was Group Executive Director, Coca-Cola (Nigeria & Equatorial Africa) where she was Director, Public Affairs and Communications, Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc (a subsidiary of Lafarge SA, one of the world’s leading cement multinationals) where she was General Manager.

The visibly excited staff who were at the various meetings expressed happiness with her focus on some key areas where the Corporation has not been doing well such as Public Private Partnerships (PPP) as well as collaboration with other parastatals and agencies of the ministry in the development of the country’s tourism potentials.

The new DG was also said to have indicated interest in poverty alleviation and job creation through the activities of the new NTDC such as encouraging the establishment and running of tourism enterprises by the poor and ensuring that proceeds and profits from tourism benefits the poor.

Her programmes, according to NTDC sources, would also ensure that investments in tourism infrastructure benefit the poor in the locality where they are sited while empowerment of women, youths and the underprivileged through tourism entrepreneurship would receive high priority.

Perhaps what may have been a key content of the new DG’s communication with the management and staff of the Corporation was on staff development and motivation.

Apparently, sensing the low morale presently pervading the NTDC, Mbanefo indicated that a new lease of life would be injected in training, remuneration and career upliftment across board. She had noted that a boost in the moral of the staff would go a long way in getting them meet the expectations of the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke.

Earlier she had expressed utmost confidence in the programmes and plans of the minister for Nigeria’s tourism sector and said that NTDC would be committed to achieving the set goals. She said that the minister has properly interpreted and adapted the overall transformation agenda of the government of President Goodluck Jonathan as it relates to tourism sector of the economy.

In her formal address to the management and staff of the NTDC, Mbanefo noted that the vision of the NTDC shall be interpreted in line with that of the ministry which is to reposition Nigeria as the preferred tourism destination in sub-Saharan Africa offering diverse world class tourism products geared towards contributing 10 per cent of the GDP through a transformation driven policy.

She also indicated that the new NTDC shall be active in promoting advocacy and public enlightenment for the tourism industry to get Nigerians to appreciate and patronize the beautiful natural endowments God has given the country.

Mbanefo’s messages also dwelt heavily on the need for accountability, discipline and integrity as the watchword of the new NTDC adding that she operates an open door management style that seeks to ensure free flow of communication that would enable a team spirit.

satExecutive Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Wednesday at its meeting in Belgrade, Serbia, formally requested the South African Minister of Tourism, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, to lead a new UNWTO commission on tourism and development.

Members of the working group include France, Germany, Kenya, Jamaica, Egypt, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Mauritania and the Flemish Community of Belgium.

The Executive Council considered a proposal by South Africa on ways and means to leverage the significant official development assistance (ODA) resources available globally towards tourism development.

In a recent development, the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) for the first time ever recognised the UNWTO as eligible to receive ODA on a bilateral basis.

During the discussion, Van Schalkwyk identified four priorities for the UNWTO working group: Identify the reasons why ODA allocation to tourism is relatively low, given tourism’s potential as green growth, economic and social development driver; Identify the priorities that the development community might find attractive in terms of sustainable tourism development; Develop proposals for an awareness-raising and advocacy strategy aimed at building our case with donor countries, development banks and United Nations agencies; To identify options for the design of, and institutional home for, a matchmaking mechanism to link bilateral donor support to ODA-eligible tourism project.

The Executive Council heard that ODA could, for example, be directed towards: building good governance and sustainability in tourism; promoting investment in the tourism economy; fostering the poverty reduction impact of tourism; and encouraging human resources development in tourism.

In addressing the meeting, Van Schalkwyk said:”I believe it will be possible to unlock meaningful new financial resources to further our work in the tourism sector by dramatically scaling up our share of official development assistance (ODA).

In so many instances, integration across policy domains and greater policy coherence and collaboration at a global level are indicated. One such area is the often underestimated contribution of tourism to development and the Millennium Development Goals. There is a sweet spot at the intersection of the three policy imperatives of tourism development, social inclusion and green growth that we have been ignoring to our detriment and that could hold the key to substantial new resources.”

He further added “Last year, total ODA globally was $130 billion. Of this, $90 billion was bilateral ODA and $40 billion multilateral ODA. The tourism sector received only $124 million of the $130 000 million ODA disbursed globally, that is, 0,09% of total ODA. For a sector that is responsible for 9% of global gross domestic product (GDP), 30% of total world exports in services and one in every 11 jobs worldwide, that seems hardly enough.”

Minister Van Schalkwyk concluded by saying “As a sector, we have a major task ahead of us to convince the OECD Development Assistance Committee, the World Bank, regional development banks, developed-country donors and other United Nations agencies of our sector’s important contribution to poverty eradication, the green economy and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.”

Saturday, May 25, was fanfare and partying around the African Union headquarters in faraway Addis Ababa, as the continent’ s political leaders, artistes and well wishers gathered to mark the Golden Jubilee of the African Union (AU).

The AU Chairman and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn was optimistic as he launched extravagant celebrations urging leaders to “create a continent free from poverty and conflict, and an Africa whose citizens enjoy a middle income status.”

Saturday’s party in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa was followed by a more sobering two-day summit to tackle a series of crises across the continent. Today’s 54-member AU is the successor of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), established in 1963 in the heady days when independence from colonial rule was sweeping the continent.

Various personalities like the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, French President Francois Hollande, United States Secretary of State John Kerry, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff added colour to the celebrations.

In the face of the celebrations, however, some at the event were quick to point to the fact that 24 African nations out of the 25 remain rooted at the bottom of the UN’s human development index are in Africa, with several blighted by unrest. Hollande warned of “the scourge of terrorism” faced by the continent, as he invited leaders to a December summit in Paris to boost “peace and security”.

Leaders, who said the celebrations would promote pan-Africanism and help unify the often divided continent, nodded to the classic reggae hit “you’re an African” by late Jamaican singer Peter Tosh as it boomed across the hall. “When we therefore talk about African solutions to African problems, it is because we know that we can only permanently silence the guns if we act in solidarity and unity,” said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, head of the AU Commission, the organisation’s executive arm. But speaking in the modern Chinese-built AU headquarters, she also noted that “the self-reliance and economic independence that our founders spoke of remains a bit elusive and social inequalities remain.”

Drummers, dancers and musicians later performed to a packed crowd including leaders in a giant hall, telling the history of Africa through song and dance. But the elaborate celebrations had the programme running up to six hours late, meaning Kerry, who was to have made his maiden speech to Africa as the new top US diplomat, only gave shortened remarks at a later private AU dinner. ”

The legacy of the progress in the African Union over the last half century really excites us about the possibilities over the next 50 years,” he said. “Today war and strife in Africa are less common than freedom and development. Today the rule of strong men is less common than multi-party democracies.”

taleb rifai, the secretary general of unwto

taleb rifai, the secretary general of unwto

Since taking office as the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) secretary-general in May 2009, Taleb Rifai has been on a perpetual move, traipsing the globe from one travel and tourism-related event to next with the hope of uniting the industry to speak under “one voice.” In this interview, Rifai speaks on his thoughts on four years as UNWTO’s leader.

Biggest challenge and achievements

The most important challenge has been and will continue to be raising awareness about the importance of the travel and tourism industry among political leaders and the public opinion in general. It has been my greatest obsession and it has been something that I have dedicated so much time to and still needs to be done. Governments are still not taking travel and tourism as serious as it truly is. The distance between what travel and tourism is doing on the ground in terms of job creation, income generation or contribution to national economies and to other aspects of life, the distance between that and the recognition of that is still wide and still needs to be reached. Consequent to this is the relevance of all of us as organizations that link under the umbrella, stakeholders whether it is governments or private sector like WTTC [World Travel & Tourism Council] or PATA [Pacific Asia Travel Association] or others. They derive their importance from the relevance of their industry. In many ways, this has been my greatest challenge.

Achievements I would connect with the biggest challenge. UNWTO in the last three to four years has gained tremendous visibility and has been seen in a more credible, respected, engaging light. Engaging is very important because the only way we can make some progress is by working together. One of the greatest achievements I would like to be remembered for is setting the example on working together.

Most valuable lesson

You must see the big picture before you get to become a prisoner of the small picture. It is very easy to keep wanting to protect your turf and seeing that your organization, your responsibilities, your position is the most important. And it is easy to forget that that can only happen if the entire picture, the entire sector, comes along as well. The success of others could be seen in two ways – competing against you and the other could be seen as part of your success. The big lesson that I’ve learned is to try to see the success of others as my own success.

For example, when WTTC holds a good meeting, it’s important that I feel I have achieved something. When there is a good forum in Macau that is done by the Macau Forum, it’s not organized by us but we’re there. If it’s a good event then it is important to see it as your event. When a country does something that is good, it’s good to see it as yours. You are there to serve the sector. If others are serving it as well, then they are helping you.

What would you have done differently as secretary-general?

I should have taken more attention and care to my internal affairs of the organization. I have dedicated much more time to the outside of the organization for obvious reasons. But in my second term, if all goes well, I would like to look a bit more into the set-up of the organization, on the inside. And make sure that I pay more attention to the great people that I have on my staff. This is something that I would have liked to have done and would like to do more if I have the chance to continue [as secretary general].

Ethics in tourism

We have a global Code of Ethics that was approved 12 years ago and we have reformed the global committee on tourism ethics. A new committee will be formed in August at the General Assembly. I am hoping that the new committee will give new life to this function of responsible tourism, ethical tourism and start to associate our organization more and more with that. You will see UNWTO moving more into standards setting – guidelines, conventions, criteria that are all based on what is right for the industry. You will see UNWTO venturing more into the normative realm as opposed to the operational realm because this is where our real value is. We have the United Nations legitimacy which is still and will continue to be the uncontested embodiment of the international will, and we should be utilizing this more into setting standards.

Difficult times

We are struggling with negative growth. Zero growth for the last four years and will probably continue like that. We can’t continue to depend on our traditional ways of funding through contributions of the members.

Courtesy: eTN

Chef Magnus at Sheraton Abuja Hotel's Papillon RestaurantIn-line with its resolve to provide preferred local and continental delicacies in a warm and welcoming environment, the Sheraton Abuja Hotel has announced the arrival of the world renowned executive chef -Magnus Falk.

Magnus Falk who recently joined the Sheraton Abuja Team, hails from Sweden and has to his credit over 26 years of experience as an Executive Chef.

Falk has considerable expertise in the preparation of Asian fusion cuisine, Mexican, European and Mediterranean food.

Chef Falk trained under one of the World’s Greatest Chefs, Top Chef Conrad Gallagher as well as having worked with Michelin Guide Chefs like Iva Manerstrom and Svantesson, has also previously worked in various countries across Europe, Asia and South-Africa.

“Our New Executive Chef is definitely one more reason why our loyal guests and customers should stay or eat at Sheraton Abuja Hotel. Adding Chef Magnus Falk to our wonderful team as well as the constant engaging and fun events we organize for our customers during special dates in the year reinforces our Hotel as a vibrant friendly and happening place to be, with the ‘best food’ in the City.

“We encourage all our Abuja residents and visitors to come and enjoy our sumptuous delicacies in the worlds gathering place,” remarked Mr. Boris Bornman, General Manager of the Sheraton Abuja Hotel.

The Nigerian telecommunications market is set to witness another major breakthrough in service delivery for consumers as leading telecommunications operator, Airtel Nigeria introduces the first ever bidding service in Nigeria tagged Bid and Get.

The service is a direct reverse of the traditional concept of auction, where the highest bidder is declared a winner.

With Airtel Bid and Get, a customer whose bid is the lowest and unique automatically wins the bid for the advertised item for the day. The winner can purchase the item for N100 only irrespective of the retail price of the item.

To register for Airtel Bid and Get, customers are to send the word “BID’ to the short code 3210 free of charge, and thereafter participate in the bid by sending their bid amount to the 3210, at N10 for every bid SMS.

The customer whose bid is the lowest and is unique at the end of the bidding cycle is declared the successful bidder and would automatically be eligible to buy the product on offer for N100.

On receipt of SMS informing a participant of winning a particular bid auction, the successful bidder is to send the word “WIN” to “3211” and thereafter, would be presented with his winning at the nearest Airtel office.

Speaking on the latest innovation from Airtel, the Chief Operating Officer, Deepak Srivastava said being another first by the company, the rollout further confirms Airtel’s innovativeness and superior value propositions as it draws closer to becoming the most loved brand in the lives of Nigerians.

According to him, customers including those that have ported from other networks are in for good times as exotic items including top-of-the-range communication devices, house-hold electronic gadgets and other goodies on auction would be won by bidders across the country.

“The uniqueness of the Bid and Get Service is that a fix amount of N100 is what a successful bidder pays for any item won, irrespective of the current retail price in the market. The distinction of this service yet again proves that as a company, we dig deeper into the ideas box to bring out impactful propositions that excites not just the customers including the youths, but the entire telecoms market.”

The Airtel Bid and Get auction service is open to both pre and postpaid customers and the first item on auction would be Iphone 5 and Ipad mini communication gadgets.

Bharti Airtel, a leading telecommunications services provider with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa, took a significant step towards building the largest 3G network across Africa by announcing the launch of its 3G mobile platform in Burkina Faso. The launch of the 3.75G follows the award of a 3G license to Airtel by the Burkina Faso Government. The granting of the license is an important milestone since it will contribute to the development of the country and it will facilitate Internet access for all Burkinabé.

The launch of the 3G platform promises profound changes in the way Airtel subscribers experience the web on internet-enabled cell phones. The improved technology will enhance multimedia functionality, high speed mobile broadband and internet access; allowing  users to make video calls, watch live TV, send and receive emails, and download music from the handheld devices.

This is the latest technology HSPSA + being launched in several European and American countries. Reaching speeds of up to 21 mbps, Airtel’s 3.75G network is one of the fastest available globally and it will be immensely beneficial to multinationals, SMEs and the youth.

“3G technology will give our customers the opportunity to interact with cellular technology in a different way,” explains Tiemoko Coulibaly, CEO of Airtel Africa Francophone Region. “This is why Airtel doesn’t see 3G as a product, but rather as a platform that enables our subscribers to experience data better.” According to Mr. Coulibaly, Airtel’s goal is to build the largest 3G network on the continent, while continuing to provide innovative and useful services which will enable customers to take full advantage of this new technology.

Hervé-Njapoum Olivier, the Managing Director of Airtel Burkina Faso, said: “We are grateful towards the political and administrative authorities of Burkina Faso for the granting of the license through the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Post. We share the same vision on strengthening the country’s telecommunications platform. Airtel’s 3.75G network will enhance the social, cultural and commercial participation of the people of Burkina Faso and it will connect them with the global community. ”

He added: “Our 3G platform will allow subscribers to combine the enormous potential of the Internet with the convenience of cellular phones and other mobile devices. It will unleash the potential of our youth by providing quick access to the Internet for learning, sharing, social networks, creation and access to educational and musical content. For Small and Medium Enterprises, it will allow the entrepreneur to adopt a highly mobile way of working with a very fast access to emails and the Internet. For the larger companies, they can increase their productivity with high-speed Internet.”

Airtel is committed to always expand its network coverage and bringing communication opportunities to the people. Thus, after Ouagadougou, the deployment of 3.75G network will continue in other cities such as Bobo-Dioulasso, Ouahigouya Koudougou, Banfora and Ziniaré.

Africa is an emerging market and subscribers across the continent are increasingly demanding a more reliable network and superior services. To provide infrastructure and high level solutions to meet these requirements, Airtel has chosen to trust Ericsson, as a supplier. Thanks to the Ericsson equipment, the latest version of the 3G technology will be deployed in Burkina Faso.

According to data from McKinsey & Co., there are currently about 400 million mobile subscribers in Africa. Telecommunications is one of the continent’s fastest growing industries with a rapidly expanding cellular phone market that now includes internet access, mobile banking and mobile commerce.