South Africa launches initiative to attract tourists from target source markets

By XINHUA

Image of South African flag

South Africa on Tuesday launched its Global Advocacy Program in hopes of attracting tourists from the country’s target markets and seeing increases in visitors by the festive season.

The program was initiated by the Department of Tourism, South African Tourism (SA Tourism) and the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), following protracted damaging narratives and misinformation reported globally about South Africa.

“We are going to embark on a strategic yet direct approach to our markets to ensure that consumers, trade partners, and the global media are truthfully informed about the memorable and affordable, easy accessibility and safety factors that come with traveling to South Africa in this COVID-19 environment,” said Minister of Tourism Lindiwe Sisulu.

She said that they have briefed various missions and embassies about the COVID-19 situation in the country and what they have done, adding that the country wanted to tell the world that they are ready to welcome them for leisure and business events.

The TBCSA CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa said the plan is to disseminate the correct information about the country and reignite tourism.

“Our inbound tourism recovery is dependent on the attractiveness of our brand as a tourist destination. The Global Advocacy Program will help to rebuild our country’s brand and this will ultimately attract more tourists to visit our beautiful country. The recovery and reimagination of tourism in South Africa will benefit with the successful implementation of this program globally,” said Tshivhengwa.

South Africa has recently been taken off the red lists of key markets such as the USA, Netherlands, UK, as well as Germany, which will serve as a major boost for the struggling tourism sector.

Nigerian state woos Chinese investment in agriculture

By XINHUA

Nigeria’s southern state of Bayelsa has invited Chinese investment in agriculture to assist the state’s development plan.

In a statement issued on Monday after a weekend meeting in Abuja with Cui Jianchun, the Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, the Governor of the Bayelsa state Douye Diri said the state had already identified agriculture as the main sector within which it will achieve sustainable development and growth.

“We have already identified four areas to substantially invest in, which are fishing farming, rice, cassava, and plantain cultivation,” he said.

The governor said China has recorded robust successes in the economy as well as in poverty eradication and promised to partner with developing countries including Nigeria through platforms like the Belt and Road Initiative(BRI) to help reduce poverty.

“Bayelsa is the right destination for such intervention,” he said, adding Bayelsa offers a “considerable window to the world. It will be a spectacular platform to showcase the BRI.”

He said with the requisite legal framework in place and human resources, the state was ready to welcome Chinese investors and industry experts for the collaborative development.

At the meeting, the Chinese ambassador said China and Nigeria had a lot in common, pointing out that 12 years ago, China had more than 87 million people living below the poverty line but that by February this year, they had all crossed that line.

While presenting a bilateral cooperation strategy document between China and Nigeria to Diri, Cui said that if China, with its large population, could overcome poverty, so could Nigeria, if the right policies were adopted.

“We can look at the possibility of Chinese investors and companies partnering with the Bayelsa state government,” the Chinese envoy said, adding “there are several areas of partnership we can explore.”

The Nigerian federal government has in the past, targeted agriculture as an area of priority in its strategy to diversify the country’s oil-dependent economy and alleviate poverty.

EAC states lose 92% tourism earnings due to COVID-19 pandemic

By XINHUA

Six member states of the East African Community (EAC), a regional bloc, lost 92 percent revenues in the tourism sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Peter Mathuki, the EAC secretary-general.

Mathuki said in a statement issued Saturday night that tourist arrivals to the region fell from 6.98 million before the pandemic to 2.25 million at present, causing the losses, adding that the tourism sector was the worst hit by the pandemic.

“The region is now open again for business,” said Mathuki, urging EAC member states governments and other stakeholders to work together to market the region’s tourist attractions and products as part of efforts to ensure speedy recovery for the sector. The EAC groups Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Uganda.

“Despite the fact that the pandemic has reversed the gains that we had made in the tourism sector, we are quite confident that through collective and collaborative efforts, we should be able to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels of performance and even do better within a span of less than five years,” Mathuki told the first East African regional tourism expo in Tanzania’s northern city of Arusha, also the headquarters of the EAC.

He said that the region had drawn a number of important lessons from the pandemic especially in relation to the economic sectors that were hard hit.

“One lesson that stands out and resonates with most destinations around the world is the need to entrench resilience in the tourism sector,” said Mathuki, adding that the EAC will take a number of steps to enhance recovery in the sector.

East Africa’s first regional tourism expo to attract 100 exhibitors

By XINHUA

The peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain is one of the region’s most recognizable touristic attractions, rises above the horizon near Arusha in Tanzania, where East Africa’s first regional tourism expo opened its doors on October 9, 2021. (Creative Commons / Muhammad Mahdi Karim)

The first East African Community (EAC) Regional Tourism Expo that will open its doors on Saturday is expected to attract 100 exhibitors and over 2,000 visitors, organizers of the expo said in a statement.

The statement issued by the EAC in its headquarters in Tanzania’s northern city of Arusha said the expo to be held in Arusha city from October 9 -11 aims at creating awareness on tourism investment opportunities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peter Mathuki, the EAC Secretary General, said the expo will comprise exhibitions by tourism service providers, speed networking and business to business meetings and seminars on tourism and wildlife sub-themes.

“In respect to the tourism sector, these sub-themes will revolve around aspects such as tourism resilience and crisis management, digital tourism marketing, development of multi-destination tourism packages and tourism investment opportunities and incentives,” he said.

Mathuki said wildlife-related sub-themes will include combating poaching and illegal wildlife trade and economic value of wildlife in the region.

The EAC member states are Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

African cinema could create 20 million jobs

By AFP

Africa’s film industry is thriving and could create many millions of extra jobs if its potential was fully exploited, the United Nations said Tuesday.

In a report, the UN cultural organization UNESCO said that an estimated five million people currently work in Africa’s film industry, which contributes 5 billion U.S. dollars to the continent’s GDP.

Nigeria’s film industry is the continent’s biggest, churning out 2,500 movies per year.

Despite the numbers, UNESCO said the industry has much potential that remains largely untapped.

Affordable digital film equipment and new online distribution platforms have given new opportunities to content creators, but the report said that Africa has fewer screens per capita than any other continent.

Piracy is another big issue, with the report estimating “that piracy waylays 50 percent to over 75 percent of the film and audiovisual industries’ revenue”.

Only 19 African countries out of 54 offer any financial support to filmmakers, the report also found.

If all these challenges were fully addressed, the sector could create over 20 million jobs and contribute 20 billion U.S. dollars to the continent’s combined GDP, UNESCO said.

The report also identified a lack of freedom of expression as hindering the film industry’s progress, with professionals in 47 countries reporting limitations on the issues that they are able to handle in their creative work.

In a statement, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay called for a strengthening of international cooperation “to enable all countries, in particular developing countries, to develop cultural and creative industries that are viable and competitive both nationally and internationally”.

Films are public goods “that require public support and investment”, Azoulay said.

Gabon to build 5 new special economic zones

By XINHUA

The offices of the administrative authority of Nkok, Gabon’s first Special Economic Zone, are seen on August 1, 2015. (Creative Commons / Pascal Darryl)

Gabon’s Minister of Investment Promotion, Carmen Ndaot, announced on Friday in capital Libreville that the government plans to build five new special economic zones in the country.

According to the minister, these special economic zones will be platforms specifically equipped with infrastructure designed to facilitate industrial activities, without specifying in which provinces these new special economic zones will be installed.

Gabon’s special economic zones are conducive to welcoming foreign economic actors, she told the press, noting several areas including fisheries and the environment.

The new special economic zones will also be dedicated to the development of agriculture, she added.

Gabon had built in 2011 its special economic zone in Nkok, about 30 kilometers from Libreville. The zone boasts some 106 major operators from various fields with aims to boost Gabon’s economy.

East Africa’s investors lobby says pandemic recovery on track

By XINHUA

John Bosco Kalisa, executive director of the East African Business Council (EABC) said that EAC member states have reawakened their COVID-19 mitigation measures while streamlining regional supply chains and promoting electronic commerce to accelerate economic recovery. (Photo by Tony Karumba via CFP)

The East African Business Council (EABC) said on Wednesday that economic recovery from COVID-19 related shocks in the region was on course amid easing of travel restrictions, ramped up vaccination and renewed investor confidence.

John Bosco Kalisa, executive director of EABC, a regional body of private investors, said that governments have made bold policy choices to hasten the revival of key economic sectors like tourism, agriculture and manufacturing that experienced a downturn at the peak of the pandemic.

He spoke at a virtual forum convened by EABC to discuss the revival of trade and investment in the region after a slump occasioned by pandemic containment measures like lockdowns and curfews. “We are working on a post-COVID-19 recovery strategy targeting sectors that have a huge impact on the economies and livelihoods in the region,” Kalisa remarked.

Kalisa said that senior policymakers and investors in the region have commenced dialogue to explore fiscal incentives that can be rolled out to accelerate pandemic recovery, restore businesses and jobs. Reforming the tax regime, policy harmonization and negotiating for low-interest loans from lenders have been prioritized in order to rebuild economies in the region.

Rashid Kibowa, director of Trade at the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat said that implementation of an economic recovery strategy focusing on enhanced cross-border trade and investment that was initiated at the onset of the pandemic had gathered steam.

According to Kibowa, the strategy lays emphasis on trade facilitation, investments promotion, improving transport logistics, reviving tourism, agriculture and manufacturing.

He noted that intra-regional trade declined by 5.5 percent in 2020 due to the pandemic’s disruptions on supply chains, adding that easing of containment measures has gradually restored the cross-border movement of goods and services.

Kibowa said that EAC member states have reawakened their COVID-19 mitigation measures while streamlining regional supply chains and promoting electronic commerce to accelerate economic recovery.

He said that encouraging the Diaspora community to invest in their native countries, the establishment of innovation hubs, export promotion, and funding start-ups have been identified as key to pandemic recovery in the region.

Kenya’s economy projected to grow by 6.1% in 2021

By XINHUA

Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor Patrick Njoroge displays some of the new look shilling Kenyan currency notes on June 3, 2019 during a press conference at his office in Nairobi.(Photo by SIMON MAINA / AFP) (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Kenya’s economy is projected to grow by 6.1 percent in 2021 after a 0.3 percent contraction in 2020, the central bank said on Wednesday.

Patrick Njoroge, Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) said that some dynamism is beginning to come back especially in the service sectors such as hospitality that were negatively affected by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“One sector to flag is the agriculture sector which remains most uncertain largely because of the rains. Some parts of the country are getting adequate rains but there is drought in other parts,” Njoroge told journalists in Nairobi. The performance of agricultural sector will be a big driver of economic growth in 2021 and is projected to grow by 2.6 percent.

According to the apex bank, Kenya’s economy will expand by 5.6 percent in 2022 which will be a presidential election year that is typically associated with the slower expansion of the gross domestic product (GDP).

Njoroge observed that most of the indicators of economic growth are performing better as compared to 2020 which was negatively affected by travel restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He revealed that cement production and consumption are already on an upward swing indicating signs of economic recovery.

Njoroge added that greater tax collection will help to reduce the current account deficit to 5.2 percent of GDP by the end of the year, from the current level of 5.5 percent.

South Africa calls for reviving tourism on World Tourism Day

By XINHUA

A lioness walks with two cubs in the Kalahari desert, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa. (Photo by: Arterra/UIG via Getty Images)

South Africa commemorated World Tourism Day Monday with a call for all to work toward reviving the sector which has been hit hard by COVID-19.

Deputy Minister of Tourism Fish Mahlalela invited everyone in the country to join the government to support the revival of tourism, which is the one of the major contributors to the gross domestic product of the country.

Mahlalela said they have a tourism recovery plan designed in consultation with the private sector.

“The tourism industry is ready for a reset. This plan is anchored on three interlinked pillars or strategic themes: protecting and rejuvenating supply, reigniting demand and strengthening enabling capability for long term sustainability,” he said. “The tourism industry is of great significance and potential to South Africa and is one of the six key sectors of economic growth.”

The official suggested that people get the vaccination as soon as possible so as to reach the herd immunity and open the economic activities.

Yvonne Mlozana, an official from Women in Tourism (WiT) Program which is an initiative that propels and supports the development and empowerment of women in the tourism sector, called for collaboration to grow the sector, saying that even though the sector was mostly impacted by COVID-19, they hope that it will bounce back.

The World Tourism Day is commemorated worldwide on Sept. 27.

25 Chinese trade cooperation zones set up in Africa

By XINHUA

A total of 25 Chinese economic and trade cooperation zones have been established in 16 African countries, according to the China-Africa Economic and Trade Relationship Annual Report (2021) released on Saturday.

The report came ahead of the second China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan Province, from September 26 to 29.

FILE PHOTO: Attendees at the first China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in June 2019. /CFP

As of the end of 2020, the cooperation zones, registered with the Ministry of Commerce of China, had attracted 623 enterprises, with a total investment of $7.35 billion. These enterprises have created over 46,000 jobs for the host countries, the report said.

China’s overseas economic and trade cooperation zones help boost local industrialization in diverse fields such as resource utilization, agriculture, manufacturing, trade, and logistics.

The report also showed Chinese investment in Africa stood at $2.96 billion in 2020, up 9.5 percent year on year. It included $2.66 billion worth of non-financial direct investment.

Chinese investment in Africa’s services sector has increased significantly. Last year, investment in subsectors such as scientific research and technology services, transport, warehousing, and postal services more than doubled, said the report.

In the first seven months of 2021, the country’s direct investment in Africa reached $2.07 billion dollars, outperforming the pre-pandemic level in the same period of 2019, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.