Bristow Nigeria increases fleet size

Bristow Helicopters (Nigeria) Limited (“Bristow”), the leading provider of industrial aviation services in Nigeria has recently increased its Nigerian fleet size with the introduction of at least six additional aircraft in the past six months. These state-of-the-art aircraft which include the Sikorsky S76D & S92, the Leonardo AW139 & AW189 helicopters, and also the Embraer ERJ 145 Jet aircraft serve to provide much more optionality and resilience to its operations in Nigeria, and further strengthen the company’s continuing support and commitment to its varied client base and particularly, to the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry as a whole.

Bristow is the first and currently the only operator of both the Sikorsky S76D and Leonardo AW189 helicopter in the offshore Oil & Gas Market in Africa and currently the only operator of the Sikorsky S92 aircraft type in Nigeria with well over 32,000 flight hours flown on this aircraft type in Nigeria since its introduction to the country in 2008.

The Sikorsky S76D helicopter represents the latest variant of tried and tested S76 Series. A proven aircraft type that has flown well over 7 million flight hours since its first variant came into operation in 1977. This medium sized aircraft type and its variants is the workhorse of the industry. With its two Pratt & Whitney engines, composite blades, low noise signature, smaller D-Value, modern avionics suite and 400nm range, the S76D (as with the S76C++ type) is ideally suited to support the daily shuttles to the Oil & Gas accommodation platforms and unmanned offshore installations in the Niger Delta.

The Sikorsky S92 on the other hand, is the largest helicopter type supporting the Oil & Gas industry in Nigeria today and arguably the only ‘heavy’ type aircraft currently supporting the Oil & Gas industry globally. With its robust gear box design, 540nm range and 19-Seat capacity, this aircraft is ideally suited to long range, crew change flights to offshore Rigs, FPSOs and also for Search & Rescue.  Besides providing an ideal opportunity for client sharing, the aircraft’s internal seat configuration and large cabin space and cabin windows essentially provide such room and comfort as to qualify it as an ‘airliner’.

The Leonardo AW189 is a new 8-tonne helicopter that sits ‘midway’ between the S76D and the S92 in terms of its seat capacity, size and range. It has also been designed to comply fully with the latest international regulatory safety requirements EASA/FAA Part 29 and JAR OPS 3/EU-OPS. A unique feature of particular importance to the AW189’s use for offshore and SAR operations is the fact that it’s main Gear Box has been designed to provide for a 50-minute run-dry capacity, well in excess of regulatory requirements. Bristow currently operates two of this aircraft types in Nigeria and has recently received the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authorities (NCAA) approval to include the type on its Operations Specifications after a very thorough certification and approval process.

According to Captain ‘Dapo Oyeleke, Managing Director of Bristow, these additions to the Bristow Nigeria fleet signify the importance, growth potential and confidence the company has in the Nigerian market.

“Nigeria continues to be a very important market for Bristow. Besides an unwavering commitment to safety and exceptional service delivery, our business strategy revolves around our understanding of individual client’s future requirements and ability to accurately forecast the needs of the Oil & Gas market; and then proactively delivering safe, best in class, and cost effective solutions tailored to fully meet those requirements. The twin-engined, air-conditioned Helicopters with 12, 16 and 19 passenger seat configurations in the medium, light heavy and heavy type categories offer our clients choice, flexibility and the ability to ‘breathe in, and breathe out’, in such a way that drives down their operating costs per seat, per mile, mitigates exposure to one ‘Original Aircraft Manufacturer’ OEM type and optimizes payload”.

Captain Oyeleke also commented that “we will continue to invest heavily in new innovative technology, our processes and above all our people. These additional aircraft will provide an excellent opportunity for us to continue to attract and retain the industry’s best; provide employment, train and ‘throughput’ our Nigerian National pilots, engineers and support personnel, in line with the market opportunities”.

Nigeria’s Yogurt Company, Sweetkiwi Launches In The United States

2018 was a monumental year in the frozen yogurt industry as revolutionary Nigeria’s yogurt brand, Sweetkiwi, launched at Union Kitchen, a healthy-driven retail outlet in the United States of America. The frozen yogurt industry in Nigeria has not been one to boast of contributing to the health of the consumers due to the high content of added sugar. The industry has also not seen any brand pioneer a distinct business move until Sweetkiwi’s launch 7 years ago which drove a new perception and re-wrote the narrative.


The yogurt company was founded by Ehime Eigbe-Akindele in 2011. Born out of her love for desserts, and a personal inclination to be healthy. Ehime noticed a gap in the industry – one void of frozen yogurts that were as natural and healthy as they were sweet. She worked on a clean label recipe making frozen yogurt from fresh milk and culturing it into real yogurt. To aid her, Ehime Eigbe-Akindele went on to take a course in Dessert Production, and a certification course in Entrepreneur Management from the Enterprise Development Centre of Pan Atlantic University, Lagos.

Prior to launching Sweetkiwi, Ehime graduated with a BA Honors from London Metropolitan University in Business Information Technology & International Relations. She began her career in Amnesty International before moving to Citigroup in Dallas, Texas where she handled corporate loan restructuring, default banking, and bankruptcy. Ehime Eigbe-Akindele is, also, a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Scholar, and has been named one of Nigeria’s most inspiring women in 2016.

In a span of 7 years, Sweetkiwi has dominated the Nigerian frozen yogurt scene and was named one of the 100 most innovative businesses in Nigeria. The negotiation to scale beyond Nigeria started in June 2018 with Union Kitchen, a food and beverage business accelerator, with franchises all over the world. Sweetkiwi currently stocks at eight stores in the Washington D.C area. She said “the plan is to go regional than national in the US along with creating experience locations in major cities. We are working to scale Sweetkiwi to a global level.

We have received so much support from the DC food scene and government. ‘I wish the governments in Nigeria can support entrepreneurs in the same way, instead of the current way they treat small businesses. Imagine what we could achieve, we had a better environment to facilitate growth.’ Ehime said on her biggest struggles as an entrepreneur.

 

About Sweetkiwi Frozen Yogurt

Sweetkiwi makes the best tasting, clean labor frozen yogurt using real fat-free yogurt made from milk sourced from grass-fed cows and real ingredients. Founded in 2011, with a plan to help grow milk production and create more dairy and non-dairy products for grocery and retail.

To gain more information on the brand:
www.sweetkiwiyogurt.com

South African Airways launches direct service to Guangzhou, China

Introduction of Guangzhou, first new route since SAA implements turnaround strategy

South African Airways (SAA), one of the leading carriers on the African continent, will launch direct flights between Johannesburg and Guangzhou, China, on 18 September 2019, giving customers access to the heart of China’s export led manufacturing industries.

This is yet another strategy implementation initiative aimed at enhancing SAA’s route network.

“The decision to launch this direct service between Johannesburg and Guangzhou means we remain on track in executing our strategy to transform SAA into a fit for the future airline that will operate both efficiently and competitively,” said SAA CEO, Vuyani Jarana.

The Guangzhou route will cater for a spectrum of travellers between Johannesburg and China including business and corporate travellers and will be of special interest to traders. Cargo operations will complement the viability of this route considering that high value cargo is sourced from Guangzhou.

SAA will be the only carrier operating a direct service between Johannesburg and Guangzhou, with flight time of approximately 13 hours and 40 minutes, providing the shortest travel time on a nonstop basis between the two points.

There will be three new flights per week to Guangzhou, in South China, and these will complement SAA’s current operations to Hong Kong. This means, SAA will fly four times a week to Hong Kong.  Airbus A340-300 aircraft will operate both the Guangzhou and Hong Kong routes.

Guangzhou is the largest city in the Guangdong province in South China and the third largest Chinese city after Beijing and Shanghai. It is an important transportation hub and trading port, located on the Pearl River about 120km Northwest of Hong Kong.

“Adding a direct service to mainland China, combined with our current popular flights to Hong Kong provides SAA with immense growth opportunities to and from mainland China. It also gives our traders access to the centre of Chinese manufacturing,” said Jarana.

The province of Guangdong is the centre of China’s export led manufacturing industries and described as “the world’s manufacturing hub”. Formal and informal traders source the majority of goods purchased in Sub-Saharan Africa from the province, due to Africa’s poor manufacturing capacity.

For more travel options for SAA customers flying to and from Guangzhou, the airline has interline agreements with China Southern Airlines, China Eastern, Air China and Hainan Airlines. To complement this initiative Guangzhou city has an extensive fast train network connecting the hub with important cities in China within 1-3 hours of SAA’s arrival and departure time. The newly opened 45 minutes’ fast train line between Guangzhou and Hong Kong provides alternatives to our customers to use both SAA’s Hong Kong and Guangzhou services.

SAA is also negotiating a code share agreement with Hong Kong Airlines, anticipated to be in place this financial year, for further travel options for customers travelling beyond Hong Kong. Hong Kong airlines will codeshare on SAA’s Hong Kong-Johannesburg sector and provide feeder traffic from Japan, Korea, Philippines and China.

The planned schedule, which will be published on Monday, 06 May, aims to offer morning arrivals in Johannesburg, seamless connection with SAA’s regional network with less than three hours lay-over in Johannesburg. The afternoon arrival flight in Guangzhou will connect to more than twenty cities in China and these include SHANGHAI, BEIJING, FUZHOU, XIAMEN, NANNING, KUNMING, HAIKOU, QINGDAO, NANCHANG, WUHAO, and CHENGDU to mention the top ten within one to three hours of arrival time in Guangzhou. The inbound flights from Guangzhou will allow for connections with arriving flights from Japan and Korea that are an important market on days SAA will not be operating from Hong Kong.

“We are confident that the introduction of this route is based on sound commercial considerations and will not only benefit SAA but South Africa as a whole as China is the largest source market in Asia. It is also South Africa’s largest trading partner in the world,” concluded Jarana.

Customers based in China may contact SAA at any of the following offices:

·         Guangzhou:     +86-10-65026789

·         Shanghai:         +86-21-6362-1461

·         Beijing:              +86-10-65026789

·         Chengdu:          +86-28-85550998

 

These offices cover the most important geographic locations of Southern, Eastern, Northern and Western China.

Guangzhou Schedule

SA288 Days 3,5,7 JNB 1925 CAN 1505+1

SA289 Days 1,4,6 CAN 2215 JNB 0530+1

 

Hong Kong Schedule

SA286 Days 1,2,4,6 JNB 1645 HKG 1240

SA287 Days 2,3,5,7 HKG 2355 JNB 0705

Bobby J. Moroe - Acting High Commissioner; South African High Commission

Statement by the Acting High Commissioner of the Republic of South Africa, to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mr Bobby J. Moroe

The recent acts of criminality that resulted in the displacement of foreign nationals in the  KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Limpopo Provinces are regrettable. Our government believes that no amount of frustration or anger can ever justify the attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops. The Justice, Crime Prevention, and Security Cluster (JCPS) is working tirelessly on the issue of attacks on foreign nationals. To this end, three people have been arrested for the recent incidents in KZN and Limpopo and law enforcement agencies remain steadfast to bring perpetrators responsible for these crimes to book.

The government of South Africa strongly condemns the violent acts in the strongest possible terms. These attacks violate all the values that South Africa embodies, especially the respect for human life, human rights, human dignity and Ubuntu. Our country stands firmly against all intolerances such as racism, xenophobia, homophobia and sexism. We wish the injured a speedy recovery, and appeal for calm, and end to violence and restraint.

It is our view that criminal elements should not be allowed to take advantage of the concerns of citizens to sow mayhem and destruction. Any problems or issues of concern to South African citizens must be resolved peacefully and through dialogue. The police have been directed to work round the clock to protect both foreign nationals and citizens, and to also arrest looters and those committing acts of violence. The government has urged communities to assist the police by providing information on the incidents that have taken place so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice.

Our government would also like to caution that the spread of misinformation, fake pictures and videos on social media,  as well as fake websites may be fuelling tensions in the communities between South Africans and foreign nationals. Certain messages and images that appear on social media are old and unrelated to any of the reported incidents of alleged attacks on foreign nationals over the past few days. For instance, a message being circulated about foreign nationals burning South African owned trucks in Limpopo Province is not true.

Government has consistently condemned  fake news websites masquerading as authentic news websites.  We call for greater efforts of awareness in society about fake news and fake social media posts.

Government respects the right to freedom of press and freedom of expression, but fake news stories are a slanderous attempt against the brand of South Africa with no interest in respecting the Constitution of South Africa.

Accordingly,  we urge everyone to be vigilant and not spread fake information and images that may give   an impression that these are attacks on foreign nationals.

The engagement by the Minister of International Relations and Corporation, Hon. Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Police, Hon. Bheki Cele, Minister of Home Affairs, Hon, Siyabonga Cwele and the African Diplomatic Community in South Africa is a step in the right direction. This meeting has been convened twice already, on Monday, 01 April 2019 and Friday, 05 April 2019, to discuss the current spate of violence against foreign nations and their properties. Once a full report has been issued on the outcomes of these meetings , it will be shared accordingly.

Government calls on all community organisations to stand up and be counted among those who actively discourage attacks against foreign nationals or our citizens.

We call on organisations and individuals who have information regarding threats of violence to report to the police. South Africans and foreign nationals residing in the country are afforded the same protection under the Constitution.

The freedom Charter says there shall be peace and friendship. Our responsibility is to promote this legacy of peaceful coexistence and take it forward. To this end, the South African government reaffirms its responsibility to contribute to a better Africa.

Bobby J. Moroe
Acting High Commissioner.
South African High Commission.
Abuja, Nigeria.
Saturday, 06 April 2019.

Tim Mapes named Delta Chief Marketing and Communications Officer effective May 1

Delta announced that upon John E. “Ned” Walker’s retirement on May 1, Tim Mapes will assume the role of Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, leading the company’s global marketing and communications strategy.

“Tim is a world-class communicator. His more than 30 years of brand, marketing and communications experience inside and outside of Delta make him a strong leader to continue to elevate the momentum we have today,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian.

Mapes’ scope of responsibilities will include Delta’s internal and external corporate communications and marketing functions, including advertising, corporate brand management and community engagement. He will also continue to serve as president of the Delta Foundation.

Walker returned to Delta as Chief Communications Officer in December 2016 during a period of leadership transition. He had served Delta in the role from 2008 – 2014. He has more than 35 years of airline industry experience, and prior to that served as a news anchor.

“Since his return, Ned has led our Corporate Communications team as they’ve shaped the global narrative of Delta’s achievements, driven by our unique culture,” Bastian said. “Ned’s leadership and service to Delta have helped position us to continue building the strength of our brand, reputation and mission, while growing the effectiveness and impact of our internal and external communications.”

Mapes will report to Bastian and serve as a member of the Delta Leadership Committee.

Nigerian growth companies lead representation in LSEG’s ‘Companies to Inspire Africa 2019’ report

  • 2019 report identifies a new cohort of fast growing and dynamic private businesses across Africa
  • 360 companies selected from 32 countries
  • 97 Nigerian companies included in the report: largest representation of companies featured, constituting 27% of the featured firms in the report.
  • Strong emphasis on Industry and Technology & Telecoms in Nigeria, with just under half of their companies coming from these sectors
  • Exceptional growth rates for Nigerian firms reflected in featured CAGR of 47% revenue CAGR and average employee CAGR of 23% over 3 years
  • 22% of Nigerian companies in the report are led by women

 

Today, London Stock Exchange Group launches the second edition of its ‘Companies to Inspire Africa’ report, identifying and celebrating some of Africa’s most dynamic growth businesses. David Schwimmer, CEO, London Stock Exchange Group was joined by International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt to welcome guests including the CEOs of featured companies, African government representatives, Africa-focused investors and trade groups to the Group’s London headquarters. Also, in attendance were official partners to the report, the African Development Bank, Asoko Insight, CDC Group and PwC, together with sponsors Instinctif Partners and Stephenson Harwood.

International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, said:

“Africa is going through a period of enormous change. Five of the world’s fastest-growing economies are African and by 2050 a quarter of the world’s population will live there. This growth presents unique opportunities for us all.

“The Companies to Inspire Africa report highlights the leading private companies operating in Africa, which have the most inspiring stories and the strongest growth potential

“By combining African-led ambition with British expertise we can unlock investment and create more jobs for Africa and the UK. This is a win for Africa and a win for the UK.”

David Schwimmer, CEO, LSEG, said:

“London Stock Exchange Group’s ‘Companies to Inspire Africa’ report showcases inspirational and entrepreneurial businesses from across the African continent, representing a wide variety of industries and countries. It is particularly encouraging to see the increasing influence of women in leadership roles in these fast-growing companies, playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of African business.

These high growth companies have the potential to transform the African economy and become tomorrow’s job creators.  At LSEG, we are committed to helping companies realise that potential and we are pleased to highlight and celebrate the company success stories behind one of the world’s fastest growing markets.”

Uyi Akpata, West Africa Regional Senior Partner, PwC, said:

“We are extremely honoured to partner again with London Stock Exchange Group for the second series of the ‘Companies to Inspire Africa’ report. At PwC, we view private businesses as a critical catalyst to job creation, economic growth, and innovation. Initiatives such as this help expose these companies to a global audience, and we hope will lead to further collaboration across border with London-based investors and strategic partners. It is also great to see the public sector represented here. It is an important testament to their commitment to supporting the private sector and continuing to drive improvements in ease of doing business.

We are also looking forward to hosting the Lagos launch, especially given Nigeria has the single largest representation with 97 of the 360 companies. We at PwC are committed to supporting private businesses and applaud London Stock Exchange Group for this initiative.

Catriona Laing, British High Commissioner to Nigeria said:

“I am delighted to see that a large number of Nigerian companies feature in this year’s Companies to Inspire Africa (CTIA) report. This shows the innovation and talent of Nigerian business men and women, and the opportunities that the country offers for Small and Medium Enterprises. I look forward to meeting as many of these businesses as possible over the years to come. They will have a key role to play in economic development and job creation in Nigeria.”

 The 2019 report in numbers:

  • The 2019 report identifies 360 companies from 32 countries across the African Continent with 7 major sectors represented.
  • Revealing exceptional rates of growth amongst this year’s cohort, with average revenue Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) at 46% and average employee CAGR at 25%, over three years, the report highlights the entrepreneurial and dynamic landscape of the African private sector.
  • Companies featured include small entrepreneurial businesses through to well-established corporations
  • Nigeria (97) and Kenya (66) led the countries represented in the report this year
  • Nigeria further built on its leading position established in the 2017 Report with strong representation from the Industry and Technology & Telecom sectors
  • The East-West African axis dominates this year’s Report with 130 companies from Western Africa and 147 from Eastern Africa
  • 23% of the companies are led by women, almost double the proportion in the 2017 report: Standout sectors where senior female executives are having a big impact are Healthcare & Education and Financial Services, with 39% and 31% are led by women CEOs
  • Agriculture remains an important sector for the continent with 53 companies, almost 15% of those featured
  • The companies in this year’s report are creating significant employment opportunities across Africa with each company employing an average of 363 people

The report was produced in partnership with African Development Bank Group, CDC Group, PwC and Asoko Insight who contributed their insight and expertise to select the featured companies, and the report is sponsored by Instinctif Partners and Stephenson Harwood.

A comprehensive searchable database of all the companies along with a downloadable PDF of the publication is available online at www.lseg.com/inspireafrica.

London Stock Exchange Group has a long history of supporting the development of African capital markets and investment in African companies. To learn more, click here.

 

SAHCOL MD/CEO Inducted Into The Institute Of Directors (IOD) Nigeria

The Managing Director of the Skyway Aviation Handling Company Ltd, (SAHCOL) Mr. Basil Agboarumi has been inducted into the Institute of Directors (IoD) Nigeria.

The event which took place at the Lagos Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, was in the presence of Directors from various sectors of the economy.

At the event, which also witnessed the presentation of the keynote paper of the day by Professor Oye Ibidapo-Obe, with the title ‘Our Stochastic World: Measurable Innovations in Nigeria’s Development’, inductees were reminded of the importance of adhering to the principles of Corporate Governance, for effective and successful running of organisations. He went on to emphasize that the success of companies and organisations depends on the performance and competence of directors, their integrity, fairness and vision as well as the ability to balance the interest of all stakeholders in the society.

As a result, the new inductees were requested to be good ambassadors of the Institute, which have a core focus of institutionalizing good business practices in Nigeria. Basil Agboarumi started acting as the Managing Director/CEO of the Skyway Aviation Handling Company Ltd in December 2017 before his confirmation in September 2018.

Basil joined the Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited in 2000 when it was a subsidiary of the Nigeria Airways Limited, as the Pioneer staff/Head of the Public Affairs Unit. After the privatization and subsequent takeover of Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited by the SIFAX Group in 2009, he was appointed the Head of Corporate Communications, with a mandate to spearhead the re-branding of the new company (Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited).

He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (FNIPR) and an Associate Member of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (arpa). An Aluminous of the School of Media and Communications of the Pan-Atlantic University. He was one of the Nigerian delegates to the 2014, 2015 and 2016 World public Relations Forums, in Madrid – Spain, Nairobi – Kenya, and Toronto – Canada, respectively.

Basil is also the recipient of a Special Recognition Award by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), for his “distinct industry and outstanding contributions impacting positively on Nigeria’s Reputation”, is result-oriented, a good team player, motivator, with excellent people’s skill who has a successful track record in Leadership, Public Relations/ Communications.

He was the General Manager, Corporate Communications before he rose to become the Acting Managing Director and finally the Managing Director/ CEO due to his impressive performance at the helms of affair of the company as an Acting Managing Director.

The Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited is a SIFAX Group IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) certified Aviation Ground Handling Company, providing services in Passenger Handling, Ramp Handling, Cargo Handling/Warehousing, Training Services, Aviation Security, Baggage reconciliation, Hospitality/Lounge services, and other related Ground Handling Services, in all the commercially operated airports across Nigeria.

RadissonBlu Anchorage partners Remy Martin For Exquisite Guests Experience

RadissonBlu Anchorage Hotel Lagos has partnered Remy Martin in Nigeria to continue to give its guests exquisite hospitality experience second to none.

At an exclusive cocktail event at RadissonBlu Anchorage Hotel Lagos, guests and selected dignitaries of the hotel got a taste of the world famous French distilled cognac brand, Remy Martin XO, VSOP and 1738 Accord Royal.

Stephen Jimba, Brand Ambassador of Remy Martin brand in Nigeria took the guests through the historical age and production of Remy Martin in France as well as gave insights on special tasting techniques that leaves the taste buds with exquisiteness.

According to Kevin Kamau, General Manager, RadissonBlu Anchorage Hotel Lagos, the partnership with Remy Martin provides an opportunity to leverage on the rich history and global acceptability of the brand to continue to enhance service quality to guests of the hotel.

“Remy Martin is a premium brand that has got a rich history and global pedigree that the RadissonBlu brand is proud to partner in giving our guests a superlative experience,” Kamau mentioned.

Also, Ahmed Raza, Manager-Food & Beverages, RadissonBlu Anchorage Hotel Lagos stated that Remy Martin is an established brand that will complement the delicious cuisines offering of the hotel which will ultimately result to guests loyalty.

L-R: Manager, Food & Beverage, RadissonBlu Anchorage Hotel Lagos, Mr. Ahmed, Raza; Country Manager, Nigeria, Remy Cointreau, Mr. Xavier Carbonel; General Manager, RadissonBlu Anchorage Hotel Lagos, Mr. Kevin Kamau; Remy Martin Brand Ambassador, Mr. Stephen Jimba; and Director of Sales & Marketing, RadissonBlu Anchorage Hotel Lagos, Mr. Wellington Mpofu, at the Remy Martin cocktail, in Lagos… on Wednesday. Photo: Odutayo Odusanya

Xavier Carbonel, Remy Cointreau Country Manager Nigeria says buying Remy Martin brand represent legacy and rich culture of fine premium French distillery. “The Remy Martin brand distillery is superior giving you same taste irrespective of the time in history. This uniqueness of the brand gives us an edge,” Carbonel affirmed.

The partnership between RadissonBlu Anchorage Hotel Lagos and Remy Martin will see staff of the hotel travelling to France to learn the unique culture of the cognac brand to be replicated in enriching and elevating guests experience of RadissonBlu Anchorage Hotel Lagos, Nigeria.

Accra Weizo 2018: Creating seamless Intra-West Africa Travel

The global reports on the goings-on in Africa are most often negative and it seems to me that there are deliberate steps being taken by certain people to create negative and deleterious narratives about Africa as well as aggressively propagate such narratives about the continent to the rest of the world. It may seem innocuous, but I find it funny and mischievous the fact that most people in the developed world see Africa as just one big country rather than a continent.

This vista or perspective, in my opinion, goes a long way to expressly underscore the level of ignorance and how misinformed the developed world is about the true state of affairs in Africa.

The question is, who should and can better tell the true story of Africa better than Africans themselves? Therefore, rather than being unnecessarily over-protective and conscious of territorial boundaries in our dealings within the continent, Africans should rise and take up the responsibility of championing the creation and dissemination of the true African story to the rest of the world.  In the past 10 years that I have had the opportunity of traversing the length and breadth of Africa in line of duty for Inside Watch Africa (IWA), I have seen undeniable similarities in the culture and character of the average of African not minding the different geographical expressions (countries) that we find ourselves.

 

Maybe we should take advantage of the fact that our colonial masters who scrambled for our lands and petitioned the continent in the first place see Africa as a single country to package and sell the continent to them as a destination.

It is instructive to say at this junction that the African story today is not a woeful tale after all; a good example of some of the steps we are taking in the right direction is Accra Weizo which is essentially a tourism and travel fair, convened annually by Mr. Ikechi Uko and his team to sell and promote Intra-Africa travel and tourism in the West Africa sub-region. Mr. Uko who is a veteran travel journalist, team leader of ‘Team Africa’ and founder of Akwaaba in Lagos, Nigeria, as well as Bantaba in Banjul, Gambia both of which are also tourism and travel fairs like Accra Weizo has shown his resolve to unequivocally and relentlessly champion the cause of ensuring that more Africans travel within Africa.

Just as I was opportune to participate in the event in 2017, I was privileged to attend Accra Weizo 2018 that took place between June 22 and June 23, 2018 as one of the hosted  media. In taking you through the gleeful and very educative experience I had at Accra Weizo 2018, let me start by saying Weizo, which simply  means welcome in “Ewe’’ language of Ghana and Togo.

As a travel and tourism writer, I should ordinarily long for and enjoy the experience of travelling to Ghana from Nigeria by road, but going by the unhospitable and unwelcoming dispositions and attitude of most of the security agents on the Nigeria-Ghana corridor coupled with the deplorable condition of the international highway on the corridor, particularly at the Nigerian side, my trip to Ghana by road on Tuesday June 19, 2018 and back to Lagos, Nigeria on Sunday June 24 for Weizo was anything but fun. It seems to me that the governments of Nigeria, Republic of Benin, Togo and Ghana do not really understand or see the socio-economic gains and benefits that will naturally accrue to their countries if and when now people travel on this corridor by road.

My suspicion is that there is an erroneous belief that most people who travel through the corridor by road are either smugglers or petty traders. This is very unfortunate as every traveller is treated as somebody who has done something wrong to be travelling on the corridor by road. As long as this abysmal situation continues, there is no way that the level of travellers’ traffic that could substantially and positively affect the economies and social lives of the three countries on the corridor can be generated.

On arrival in Ghana in the evening of Tuesday the 19th of June 2018, we drove straight to Chances Hotel in Ho, the capital of Volta Region, one of the ten regions of Ghana, into the warm embrace of our host, Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA). After we had refreshed and had dinner, GTA treated us to an exhilarating Ghanaian traditional dance that I participated in and relished every moment.

As early as 7.30am on Wednesday June 20, 2018, we checked out of Chances Hotel. Guided by our very informed and eloquent tour guide, Mr. Yao Dzide, who all through the familiarization tour loaded us with lots of information about the people, culture and history of Ghana, we first paid a visit to Tafi Atome Monkey sanctuary, where were able to interact with the monkeys in their natural habitat. It was intriguing when we were told by the curator at the sanctuary that the sanctuary was primarily a community-based project with no government support and the major sources of funding for it was from funds generated from entry fees paid by visitors to the sanctuary and contributions made by donor agencies. However, I was more enthralled when the curator informed us of how residents of the community are encouraged to accommodate tourists and visitors to give them the opportunity to have “authentic village and community experience’’ whenever they decided to spend the night at the sanctuary.

After the eco-tourism experience we had at Tafi Atome, we moved to the Eastern Region where we first visited Akosombo Dam, the hydroelectric dam also known as the Volta Dam. We were told that the construction of the dam which started in 1961 led to the flooding of parts of Volta River Basin and subsequently led to the creation of Lake Volta which is arguably the largest man-made lake in the world. We then moved to the Royal Senchi Resort to join the travel agents and tour operators who were lodged at the magnificent resort. We had a very sumptuous lunch after which we got a dose of the luxurious treatments one gets when one stays in the palatial Royal Senchi.

We went on a boat cruise on Lake Volta which runs behind the resort and after the cruise, we were treated to some indigenous very tasty cocktails after which we had dinner and danced late into the night before bed time.

The ladies among us were the first to depart for Accra as early 7.00am on Thursday the 21st of June, 2018 because they had to attend the Women in Tourism Conference that was took place in the country’s capital that day. Although, we got into Accra a little late, we were still able to experience night life in Ghana, courtesy the CEO of Kaya Tours, Mr. Gilbert Abeiku Aggrey Santana, popularly known as Abeiku Santana.

There were a lot of VIPs who attended Accra Weizo 2018, some of who were the Dean of the Diplomatic Corp in Ghana as well as Zimbabwe Ambassador to Ghana,  Her Excellency, Mrs. Pavelyn Musaka, South Africa’s Ambassador to Ghana, Her Excellency, Mrs. Lulu Xingwana and Nana Mbroba Dabo,  the Queen Mother of Anomabo Traditional Area.

Some tourism Industry leaders in West Africa such as the CEO of Ghana Tourism Authority, Mr. Akwesi Agyman, Mr. Steve Isokarairi, chairman of the board of trustee of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mr. Nkereuwen Onug, chairman of the board of trustee of the Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP), President of Tour Operators Union of Ghana (TOUGHA), Mr. Kwesi Eyison and President of NATOP, Hajia Bilkisu Abdul.

The fair was declared opened by Ghana’s Minister of Aviation, Hon. Cecilia Abena Dapaah, ably represented by Mrs. Evelyn Ama Lartey on Friday 22nd of June 2018, at Ada Ekesi Hall at La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, Accra, with the presentation of a paper entitled, “Harnessing the Opportunities in Aviation Value Chain in West Africa.’’ The first discussion of the day focused on aviation in West Africa and this included “Interlining in West Africa, a Possibility or a Mirage?”, “Integrating West African Airport System”, “Standardizing Aviation Laws in West Africa for Regional Growth” and “Why West African Airlines Fail”.

The panelists comprising the Managing Director of Nigeria’s oldest Airline Aero owners of the major MRO in the region, Capt. Ado Sanusi, the Vice-Chairman of SAHCOL, a leading Nigerian-owned Aviation Handling and Logistics Company, Chike Ogeah, the CEO of Ghana-based Smile Aviation and former CEO of Nigeria-based Associated Airlines, Alex Nwuba and Richard Kyereh from Africa World Airlines, the leading Airline in Ghana, were simply brilliant with their contributions.

At the end of the sessions, it was obvious that the aviation industry in West Africa was going to receive a boost. In addition to the seminars and deliberations, Nana and the Ghana queens, a traditional dancing group from Ghana and the Calabar Carnival dancers were also on hand to entertain the guests. Some awards were also given to tourism organizations and individuals in recognition of their contributions to the development of the travel and tourism industry in Africa. The deliberations of the day was not just on aviation before we went for lunch, there was another round of discussion that was moderated by Marigold Vivian Mingle, who is currently the Managing Consultant of Ridge Royal Resort located in the Central Region of Ghana.

The panelists was made up of top hotel managers including Didier Bayeye, market manager, Africa & Indian Ocean, Pastor Emmanuel Geadda-Asando, Vice-President, Ghana Progressive Hotels Association, Sajid Khan, General Manager of Golden Tulip Hotel, Ghana, discussed a topic, “The Adapting of International Hotel Standards to the African Environment”, which stirred up some level of emotional comments in trying to establish what true international standard really is.

June 23rd 2018, the second and closing day of Accra Weizo 2018 was as exciting and enlightening as the first day. It was essentially the ‘Ekaabo Day’, hosted by the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), and they ensured that everyone present had more than enough Ghanaian delicacies and drinks as they showcase their new tourism campaign which is: “see Ghana’, ‘wear Ghana’ and ‘eat Ghana’. The discussion of day which centered on “How effective travel bloggers, writers and influencers in promoting travel destinations in West Africa’’, had the following as its panelists — Gabe Onah, Chairman Carnival Calabar Commission, Mr. Lehlohonolo Pitso, Regional Manager, West Africa for South African Tourism, ably represented by Mr. Mohammed Kwajaffa, the Trade Relations Manager, West Africa for South African Tourism, Ms. Stella Fubara, Director Africa, Dubai Tourism, Ghana’s Tourism promoter media Mogul and CEO of Kaya Tours, Mr. Abeiku Santana, the Nigerian CNN Journalist of the Award winner and leading travel writer, Obinna Emelike of Business Day. The discussion was moderated by Mrs. Ebele Enemchukwu   former Mrs. Tourism United Nations.

The bond between South Africa and West Africa is historic – South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Derek Andre Hanekom

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Africa held its 61st Regional Tourism Conference in Abuja, capital of Nigeria between June 4 and 5, 2018. The South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Derek Andre Hanekom, who was visiting Nigeria for the first time, was one of the more than 20 ministers and 500 delegates from 34 countries who attended the conference.

On the 6th of June 2018, the minister, on his way back to South Africa, stopped by in Lagos and hosted some members of the media, trade &and other stakeholders to an exclusive dinner at Radisson Blu Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.

The South African Tourism Trade Relations Manager (West Africa), Mr. Mohammed Tanko Kwajaffa, who stood in for the Hub Head, Mr. Hloni Pitso, who was on study leave at the time, welcomed the guests and introduced the Minister and his wife as well the Consul General of South Africa in Lagos, Ambassador Darkey Africa, who accompanied the Minister to the dinner.

The honourable minister, underscoring the pivotal position that Nigeria occupies in South Africa’s tourism marketing plan as well as the historical bond between West Africa and South Africa, opened the discussions. He requested for an open and transparent dialogue on the tourism sector with focus on the flow of traffic between West Africa and South Africa.

Guests enjoyed a savoury South African inspired three-course dinner, though the Minister had insisted on a local Nigerian dish. Going by the pleasant experiences and stories shared across the table that night, it was unanimous that South Africa is a world-class tourism destination, rich in taste, culture and experiences.

However, the major trust of contributions made by the majority of the media and key trade travel partners at the dinner centered on the recurring challenges that applicants encounter when processing South African visa.

Responding, the minister assured all present that considering the importance of the West African market to South African Tourism, a lot was already being done to address the issue.

He said: “We are fully aware of the situation and have set several things in motion to ease the processing of South African Visa in Nigeria. We are working towards eventually having an e-visa regime.  We want to modernize the systems and ease the burdens. We are also working on a way of using the fact that someone has a valid visa of countries like USA, U.K. on his or her passport etc.  as a criteria to speed up the visa application process for such a person.”

In his contribution, Ambassador Darkey Africa, said as a consulate they were also aware of the visa situation and on their part, they are working determinedly with their colleagues in the Home Affairs Ministry in South Africa to ensure that Nigerians enjoy better and more seamless regime of processing South African visa at the shortest possible time.

He, however, advised that applicants should always submit their applications on time and with the appropriate supporting documents as this will make it easier for the process to be more seamless for everyone’s good. The need for more socio-cultural exchanges between South Africa and the countries in West Africa was suggested by Mr. Obinna Emelike of The Business Day Newspaper and it was generally agreed that such exchanges will go a long way to strengthen the historical bond between South Africa and West Africa.

One of the major highlights of the evening was the appreciation expressed by Nigeria travel agents to Ambassador Darkey Africa for the open-door policy that he had operated since his assumption of office and the very kind gestures that he has continued to express towards the travel agents in Nigeria. The Nigerian tour operators also presented Mr. Hanekom with a Nigerian artifact.

In closing, Minister Hanekom called for greater regional cooperation and for Africans to work together to ensure ease of travel and the continued growth of tourism across the continent.  He also promised that the short visa duration currently being given to frequent travellers will be looked into and reviewed. Mr. Mohammed Tanko Kwajaffa gave a vote of thanks and the dinner was brought to an end, after which group pictures were taken with the ever cheerful Mr. Derek Hanekom and his wife.