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A World Free of Aids

By Africa in the NewsNo Comments

 In commemoration of World Aids Day 2012 on December 1st, the US has unveiled the new US blueprint for an AIDS free generation. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint : Creating an AIDS free generation, provides a roadmap for how the US government will work to help achieve a generation free of AIDS.  The disease has plagued many African countries for decades and while some progress has been made in reducing the rate of infection of the HIV virus and in managing the disease, there is still a long way to go. This, therefore, is good news for Africa and the rest of the world. The blue print gives practical steps to achieve the set goal. As US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “Make no mistake about it, HIV may well be with us into the future but the disease that it causes need not be.” As it stands today, only about 8 million HIV patients in developing countries are getting treatment. The United Nations aims to have 15 million treated by 2015.

 

Africa has made positive strides in this area, with South Africa being commended during the speech for its efficiency in distributing antiretroviral drugs over the last four years. Just last week, UNAIDS announced that, over the past decade, the  rate of new HIV infections has dropped by more than half in 25 low-and-middle-income countries, most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Zimbabwe registered a 50 percent reduction; Namibia, a 68 percent reduction; and Malawi, a 73 percent reduction in the rate of new infections.

 

The beginning of the end of an AIDs ridden generation seems to be here. A lot of effort still needs to be invested into the project but the goal is achievable. Soon all the horrors of AIDs will be forgotten and the world we are all looking forward to, for ourselves and the future generation. 

 

References: 

Zambian writer Namwali Serpell Featured in Conversations with African Poets and Writers

By Africa in the News, The Africa Society News and EventsNo Comments

Conversations with African Poets and Writers” is a program series in partnership with the Library of Congress African and Middle Eastern Division and the Poetry and Literature Center. This program showcases emerging African writers whose work has contributed to increasing knowledge about the literature of the continent throughout the world. The series was launched in 2011 to expose the richness, diversity, and creativity of contemporary African writing to an international audience. Previous series have featured the late famous Nigerian writer and scholar Chinua Achebe, the legend Dr. Ali Mazrui, and South Africa’s writer and poet laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile. In showcasing these contemporary novelists and poets, we hope to create a new digital archive that may be used by students of African literature, researchers in African studies departments, the African Diaspora, and individuals who are interested in a cultural exchange experience. Read More

The Africa Society Passes the Torch to New Leadership

By Bernadette Paolo, The Africa Society News and EventsOne Comment

Longtime Africanist and President and CEO of The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa, Bernadette Paolo, formally announced her resignation today from the Africa-focused organization effective January 8, 2016. She is leaving The Africa Society to do a Fellowship at Harvard University.

“While it is difficult to leave a place you know, and a community and the people in it you have spent so many years with, they and Africa will always be with me, as will the many young people who have been a part of The Africa Society through the years,” she stated.

Ms. Paolo has led the organization since the passing of Leonard H. Robinson, Jr. in 2006. Prior to assuming this role, she served as the Vice President and Director of Field Operations and In-house Legal Counsel for the National Summit on Africa beginning in 1997. Before signing on to the National Summit, Paolo ended her twelve-year career on Capitol Hill, ten years of which were on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, as Staff Director of the House Subcommittee on Africa.

Paolo is credited for creating educational programs such as Teach Africa and advancing key initiatives such as the Presidential Tours of Africa series that have had domestic and global impact during her tenure. She sought throughout her career to showcase the positive aspects of the continent of Africa and its peoples in contravention to the stereotypical images portrayed in the media.
Read More

Grant T. Harris, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs Speaks at the Embassy of Ethiopia

By Andrew Young Lecture SeriesOne Comment

The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa, in partnership with the Embassy of the Republic of Ethiopia, hosted Grant T. Harris, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs on the National Security Staff of the White House as the featured speaker for the first 2015 Ambassador Andrew Young Lecture Series. Held at the Embassy of Ethiopia on March 3, 2015, Mr. Harris spoke to an audience of over 250 Africanists, diplomats, policymakers, leaders in the NGO community, business leaders, and students about the achievements and priorities of the Obama Administration vis-à-vis the continent of Africa.

See pictures from the lecture.

Grant T. Harris

Grant T. Harris, Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Director for African Affairs on the National Security Staff of the White House, presenting his remarks during Ambassador Young Lecture Series at the Embassy OF Ethiopia on March 3, 2015.

Grant T. Harris speaks to the crowd

Participants during the Ambassador Andrew Young Lecture Series at the Embassy of Ethiopia on March 3, 2015.

Ms. Bernadette Paolo, President & CEO, The Africa Society of the National Summit

Ms. Bernadette Paolo, President & CEO, The Africa Society of the National Summit addressing the audience during Ambassador Young Lecture Series at the Embassy of Ethiopia on March 3, 2015.

DSC_0415

Participants during Ambassador Andrew Young Lecture Series at the Embassy of Ethiopia on March 3, 2015.

Mamadou Beye, Chevron, Grant T. Harris, White House and Ms. Bernadette Paolo

Mamadou Beye, Chevron, Grant T. Harris, White House and Ms. Bernadette Paolo, President & CEO, The Africa Society.

DSC_0411

His Excellency Girma Birru, Ambassador of Ethiopia to the United States, presenting his welcoming remarks during Ambassador Young Lecture Series at the Embassy of Ethiopia, on March 3, 2015.

Africa: U.S. National Security Tied to Africa’s Economic Empowerment (Feat. on AllAfrica.com)

By Africa in the News, Bernadette PaoloNo Comments

A new National Security Strategy (NSS) for the United States released in February of 2015 includes many references to trade being vital to U.S. security interests. That is why Congress must renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) without further delay.

“The United States is safer and stronger when fewer people face destitution, when our trading partners are flourishing and when societies are free,” reads one reference in the NSS. Given this truth, it is incumbent that the U.S. Congress act swiftly to insure that trade facilitation is a priority, particularly as it pertains to the continent of Africa.

The African continent is fast evolving and widely considered to be the next frontier for economic growth. In many sub-Saharan countries, GDP is expected to rise above five percent in 2015. As Africa flexes its muscle in the global market and demands more equitable business deals, as its population exceeds well over a billion people, and as the oil flows and untapped resources remain, its trading partners are becoming more diverse than ever in its history.

But old and new challenges remain in the face of progress. High levels of poverty combined with a burgeoning youth population, high rates of unemployment, weak infrastructure and health care systems, and a growing terrorist threat are issues knocking at the doors of African leaders.

These are also issues that, if not addressed, can have serious security, political and economic implications for the United States.

Continue reading on AllAfrica.com

Sr. Director of African Affairs, Grant T. Harris, to Speak at Andrew Young Lecture Series

By Andrew Young Lecture SeriesNo Comments

The Ambassador Andrew Young Lecture Series features distinguished speakers whose work has impacted and advanced the agenda of issues affecting the continent of Africa and U.S. – Africa relations. Named in honor of the former Chairman of The Africa Society Board, the Series was launched in 2002 and has since rotated through several African embassies. Since its inception, the series has drawn over 4,000 participants and attendees and served as a platform from which to raise awareness about African issues that require attention, media coverage, and action. Lecture topics have included “Good Governance and Development in Africa,” “Africa is Hope: Struggle Against the HIV/AIDS Pandemic,” and “The Niall Mellon Township Initiative in South Africa.”

The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa and the Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia request the pleasure of your company for a reception and Inaugural lecture of 2005 featuring Grant T. Harris, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs on the National Security Staff of the White House.

grant t. harris - Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs on the National Security Staff of the White House

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

3506 International Drive, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20008

To RSVP, email Sarah Kuruswo at SKURUSWO@AFRICASUMMIT.ORG or call: 202-232-3862 by COB Friday, February 27, 2015.

Africa Society, World Affairs Council-D.C. To Host 600 Students for a Youth Forum on Africa

By Africa in the NewsNo Comments

Washington, DC — The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa and the World Affairs Council – Washington, DC, will host 600 students for a Youth Forum entitled “Africa: A Continent for the 21st Century” from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., on November 17, 2014 at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

In addition to learning about foreign policy as it pertains to Africa and the media, students from the Washington metropolitan area will learn about and discuss the issues of Energy, Peace and Security, Trade and Investment, Energy, Food Security and Agriculture, Health and Technology. Workshops will be convened for teachers and students by policymakers and leading experts in their respective fields.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, will deliver the keynote address. Other Opening Plenary speakers include Heidi Shoup, President of the World Affairs Council-DC; Bernadette Paolo, President and CEO of The Africa Society; Her Excellency Faida Mitifu, Ambassador to the U.S. from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Tami Hultman, Co-Founder of AllAfrica.com; and Kenyan poet, Ana Mwalagho.

Featured presenters convening workshops include Florizelle Liser, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa; Dr. Raymond Gilpin, Dean, Africa Center for Strategic Studies; Dr. Monde Muyangwa, Director, Africa Program, Wilson Center; Dr. Chinua Akukwe, Academy Fellow and Chair, Africa Working Group, National Academy of Public Administration; Joshua Sneidman, Office of Strategic Programs, Department of Energy; Dennis Matanda, Manchester Trade; Adi Raval, Power Africa and Trade Africa, USAID; Paul Ofori, Director of Programs, Edusei Foundation; Barbara Edwall, Senior Liaison Officer, Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN; Faustine Wabwire, Senior Foreign Assistance Policy Analyst, Bread for the World. Continue reading at AllAfrica.com.

Africa Society President Bernadette Paolo honored at African Diaspora Awards

By Africa in the NewsNo Comments

The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa is very proud of our President and CEO, Bernadette Paolo. We are appreciative of the “Friend of Africa” African Diaspora Award which is reflective of her great commitment to the continent of Africa.

It is our turn to applaud Applause Africa and all of the honorees.

Patricia Baine.

Africa Applause Announces 2014 Honorees for African Diaspora Awards

Ger Duany, star of “The Good Lie”, to be recognized as Actor of the Year

Dr. Olajide Williams of Hip Hop Healthcare to receive Advocate of the Year Award

Bernadette Paolo of The Africa Society to be honored with Friend of Africa Award

NEW YORK, October 20, 2014 –Applause Africa, a multimedia platform that aims to celebrate, empower and connect the people, culture and visions of Africans in the Diaspora, announced today the 2014 Honorees for the AFRICAN DIASPORA AWARDS. The 4th Annual ADA Awards will be held on November 15 at Lincoln Center’s Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College. The Red Carpet and cocktail reception begin at 6:00PM, followed by the awards show at 7:00PM.

The AFRICAN DIASPORA AWARDS celebrates the accomplishments of exemplary individuals from the African Diaspora who have excelled in various spheres of life, as well as individuals in society who working towards the advancement of Africans in the Diaspora and Africa, as a whole.

Co-hosted by Sahr Ngaujah, award winning actor and musician (Broadway hit “Fela”) and Ebbe Bassey, actor, producer and writer (“Mother of George”, “NYPD Blue”, “Law & Order: SVU”) , the ADA Awards is one of the most electrifying and highly anticipated awards shows celebrating the African Diaspora.

The ADA Awards brings together established brands, entrepreneurs, world-class entertainers, fashion mavens, renowned scholars, politicians, athletes, and philanthropists from the Diaspora. The awards show promises to engage attendees in a cultural extravaganza of iconic tributes, powerhouse performances and unforgettable moments.

The 2014 ADA Honorees are:Actor of the Year: Ger Duany, star of “The Good Lie” [South Sudan]; Creative Artist of the Year: Kemi Adetiba [Nigeria]; Entrepreneur of the Year: Meck Khalfan, Puku Charger [Tanzania]; Community Leadership Award: Semhar Araia, Dawn Inc. [Eritrea]; Musician of the Year: Somi [Rwanda-Uganda]; Friend of Africa: Bernadette Paolo, The Africa Society [U.S]; Advocate of the Year: Dr. Olajide Williams, Hip Hop Healthcare [Nigeria]; Designer of the Year: David Tlale [South Africa]; and Company of the Year: Ogilvy & Mather [U.S.].

“The ADA Awards provides a platform for us to honor and raise awareness about these extraordinary individuals from the Diaspora,” said Debo Folorunsho, co-founder of Applause Africa. “By shining a spotlight on their accomplishments, we hope to shift the prevailing narrative about Africa and Africans to a vision of hope and promise.”

Previous ADA Honorees include Noble Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee; Chinedu Echeruo, tech entrepreneur and founder of HopStop.com; Angelique Kidjo, Grammy Award–winning singer-songwriter and activist; Ajamu Wesley, IBM Vice President of Africa Skills Initiative; Mpule Kwelagobe, former Miss Universe; and Lola Ogunnaike, former correspondent for CNN, The View,VH1, MTV, BET and Centric Arise 360, among other accomplished individuals..

The 2014 Awards theme “Homecoming Revolution” will lift up the positive and inspiring movements of Africans in the Diaspora who are driving the revitalization and economic progress in the global African community.

“We believe in celebrating leaders of today in order to inspire leaders of tomorrow,” said Michael Ikotun, co-founder of Applause Africa. “Younger Africans must be engaged in investing in the future of their homelands. The ADA Awards will motivate our generation to become the change they wish to see in Africa.”

Afrobeat singer Sheyi Shay will perform live during the awards show. The evening will conclude with an After-Party featuring DJ FOLS, who will spin Afrobeat hits and continue the celebration.

The AFRICAN DIASPORA AWARDS is a part of a series of events. On November 13, in partnership with the United Nations Association SNY for Young Professionals, an ADA-United Nations Ambassador Tour will take young African professionals to visit three African Permanent Missions in New York City to encourage young professionals to explore career opportunities with UN Missions.

The ADA Awards are sponsored, to date, by: Vlisco andArik Air International.

For additional information and to purchase tickets, visit www.africandiasporaawards.com.

Visit www.africandiasporaawards.com
Follow @applauseafrica
Join the online conversation using #ADAwards

**To apply for press credentials to cover the 2014 AFRICAN DIASPORA AWARDS Red Carpet and Awards Show, please contact Shanta Bryant Gyan at email, shanta@sbgcommunications.com or call 646.290.8211.

####

ABOUT AFRICAN DIASPORA AWARDS:

The African Diaspora Awards aims to identify and celebrate notable Africans that have genuinely excelled in various spheres of life, as well as individuals in society who have contributed to the advancement of Africans in the Diaspora and Africa as a whole.

ABOUT APPLAUSE AFRICA:

Applause Africa magazine is a quarterly published lifestyle magazine for the progressive African in Diaspora. Applause Africa focuses on the people, cultures, philosophies and successes of Diaspora Africa.

Bernadette Paolo: Journalists Must Avoid Mass Hysteria Over Ebola

By Africa in the NewsNo Comments

Journalists need to up their game in the way they report the impact of Ebola on Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, says Bernadette Paolo, writing for AllAfrica. Arguing against the scaremongering generalizations often seen especially in Western media, she advocates being specific about the countries affected and reporting positive developments where they occur.

The world has to take the Ebola virus seriously given the toll it has exacted and stands to exact on countless numbers of people, most of which, thus far, are in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Equally important is managing the fear this contagion is causing that may lead to determinations being made by countries that will further exacerbate the isolation and destabilization being experienced by affected nations.

In addition to rendering all possible forms of assistance to the three countries most impacted and taking preventative steps in countries with an isolated case or a few cases of Ebola, caution must be taken about reporting on this disease.

One way to do this is to stop referring to Ebola as impacting “West Africa.” Sixteen countries make up the region known as West Africa including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. From reports on reputable networks such as CNN to testimony given by experts from many quarters, the terminology used is “Ebola in West Africa.”

Just as no country that has been severely impacted by this virus should be stigmatized or their borders closed, describing an entire region as being impacted can have serious economic ramifications.

Another way to mitigate fear is to report the positive developments in countries where the Ebola virus has been contained such as Nigeria where due to the efforts of health officials and authorities, the few incidences of Ebola that were discovered were handled quickly and effectively.

The first case of the Ebola virus in the United States was reported in Dallas, Texas on September 30. The Centers for Disease Control vowed that the disease will be stopped, posing no threat to the American public. There is no doubt that this contagion will be handled efficiently.

Just as it is unthinkable to caution people not to go to Texas since there was a case of Ebola virus there; it is equally unfair to tell people not to go to Nigeria or to a country in West Africa that is not impacted by the Ebola virus.

It is also not responsible for policymakers to suggest that flights from “West Africa” be banned from coming to the United States, even those from the most significantly impacted countries. How then can those seeking to provide assistance in those countries be transported?

Should there be better screening at airports to protect citizens from the Ebola virus? Yes. Should every possible precaution including vigorous education campaigns by health care officials be implemented? Absolutely. In addition to throwing every possible deterrent toward eliminating the Ebola virus, precautions should be taken not to create mass hysteria leading to unreasonable determinations by authorities.

As a result of the Obama Administration, the United States is taking steps not only to send personnel and resources, but to coordinate the international response to the Ebola virus in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, among other countries. Only positive, consistent and coordinated action by the international community will defeat Ebola, not immobilizing people by engendering widespread fear, thus making a serious threat even worse.

The Africa Society’s Bernadette Paolo Moderates Panel During Growth & Opportunity in Africa Forum at U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

By Africa in the News, The Africa Society News and EventsNo Comments

On August 5, 2014, in conjunction with the U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit, Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, along with United States Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Chairman of Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs, and Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs, co-hosted the “Growth and Opportunity in Africa Forum” in coordination with the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Read More

The Africa Society Participates in the U.S. – Africa Leader Summit Civil Society Event

By The Africa Society News and EventsNo Comments

The Africa Society was pleased to participate in the official Civil Society Pillar of the African Leaders Summit at the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, August 4,  2014.  Bernadette B. Paolo, President and CEO of The Africa Society, served as a moderator for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Breakout Session from 8:30 am to 10:00 am. Read More

2014 ‘Africa Forum,’ a “Substantive Success”

By Africa in the News, The Africa Society News and EventsNo Comments

The “Africa Forum” organized by the FEEEDS Advocacy Initiative, Gallup, The Africa Society, AllAfrica and Operation HOPE, which was held July 10, 2014 for 250 invitees, is being called a “substantive success.” It was the first in a series of activities leading up to the August 5-6, 2014 US-Africa Heads of State Summit.

Related Links

White Paper on ‘Africa Forum’ Pre-Summit Dialogue Released

FEEEDS-Gallup-Africa Society DC “Africa Forum” Kicks off Issues for the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit

Africa Society President Paolo moderates Governance Panel

(Left to right) Dr. Sulayman Nyang, Chair, African Studies Department, Howard University; The Africa Society CEO Bernadette Paolo; Dr. Raymond Gilpin, Dean, Africa Center for Strategic Studies; H.E. Cheikh Niang, Ambassador from the Republic of Senegal

 

Africa Trade Panel AfricaForum @Gallup

FEEEDS CEO Ambassador Robin Sanders (center) moderating ‘Africa Forum’ session on trade with Botswana Ambassador Tebelelo Mazile Seretse (left) and Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa, Florie Liser

Honorable Linda Thomas-Greenfield Speaks at First 2014 Ambassador Andrew Young Lecture Series

By Andrew Young Lecture Series, The Africa Society News and EventsNo Comments

On Wednesday, February 26, 2014, The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa, in partnership with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, hosted Honorable Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, as keynote speaker for the first 2014 Ambassador Andrew Young Lecture Series. The program took place on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In her lecture, Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield discussed the Obama Administration’s priorities with respect to U.S. policy vis-à-vis the continent of Africa.

Honorable Linda Thomas-Greenfield and H.E Adefuye

Honorable Linda Thomas-Greenfield and H.E Adefuye

 

Left to Right: Ms. Bernadette Paolo, Esq., Mr. Noah Samara, Esq., Honorable Linda Thomas-Greenfield,  H.E Adefuye and Mr. Mamadou Beye.

Left to Right: Ms. Bernadette Paolo, Esq., Mr. Noah Samara, Esq., Honorable Linda Thomas-Greenfield, H.E Adefuye and Mr. Mamadou Beye.

 

Left to Right: Africa Diplomat Corps; H.E Oguin, H.E Diabate. H.E Soborun and H.E Mombuli

Left to Right: Africa Diplomat Corps; H.E Oguin, H.E Diabate. H.E Soborun and H.E Mombuli

Teach Africa Brings DC High School Students and South Africa, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo Students Together

By The Africa Society News and EventsNo Comments

Along with the World Affairs Council-Washington, D.C., in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, The Africa Society hosted 200 Washington area high school students for our flagship program, Teach Africa. The program was held on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at the Department of State in the Loy Henderson Auditorium.

For more on Teach Africa visit our website.

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A World Free of Aids

By Africa in the NewsNo Comments

In commemoration of World Aids Day 2012 on December 1st, the US has unveiled the new US blueprint for an AIDS free generation. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Bluepint: Creating an AIDS free generation, provides a roadmap for how the U.S. Government will work to help achieve a generation free of AIDS. The disease has plagued many African countries for decades and while some progress has been made in reducing the rate of infection of HIV virus and in managing the disease, there is still a long way to go. This, therefore, is good news for Africa and the rest of the world. The blueprint gives practical steps to achieve the set goal. As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "Make no mistake about it, HIV may well be with us into the future but the disease that it causes need not be". As it stands today, only about 8 million HIV patients in developing countries are getting treatment. The United Nations aims to have 15 million treated by 2015. 

 

Africa has made positive strides in this area, with South Africa being commended during the speech for its efficiency in distributing antiretroviral drugs over the last four years. Just last week, UNAIDS announced that, over the past decade, the  rate of new HIV infections has dropped by more than half in 25 low-and-middle-income countries, most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Zimbabwe registered a 50 percent reduction; Namibia, a 68 percent reduction; and Malawi, a 73 percent reduction in the rate of new infections.

 

The beginning of the end of an AIDS ridden generation seems to be here. A lot of effort still needs to be invested into the project but the goal is achievable. Soon all the horrors of AIDS will be forgotten and the world we are all looking forward to, for ourselves and the future generation. 

 

References: 

 

 http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/2012/11/29/world-bank-group-president-praises-new-us-blueprint-aids-free-generation?cid=EXT_TWBN_D_EXT

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/11/201116.htm

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-11-29/clinton-releases-road-map-for-aids-free-generation

Africa in the News: Positive Predictions for E-tourism

By Africa in the News, Business and EconomicsNo Comments

 E-tourism, or the ability to book hotel, flight and other travel reservations online, accounts for about 56 percent of global travel today. Yet as late as 2005, e-tourism accounted for less than “2 percent of tourism revenues in Africa.” However, the disparity seems to be narrowing due to South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup when online booking jumped to 5 percent. Now, continued growth is expected and projections predict that the percentage of bookings made online throughout Africa will reach “15-20 percent by 2015.” Although there remain challenges to overcome before more of Africa’s hotels, parks and resorts are available for reservation online such as “high cost of bandwidth, the lack of integrated, real-time reservation systems and local online payment gateways.”


However, the challenges to online business on the continent have not hampered interest by major online travel agencies. As interest in tourism to Africa increases and the internet becomes more accessible on the continent, these companies see a major opportunity to expand their markets. In fact, the popular travel site Expedia has even gone so far to open a new office whose sole purpose is to focus on African travel. Many businesses which offer travel accommodation on the continent are jumping through hoops to offer online booking as “international travelers have credit cards and increasingly expect to be able to book online.” A survey also found that nearly “50% of Americans read an online review before booking internationally” giving those who have an online presence a major advantage.


The major obstacles for African businesses who wish to get involved with e-tourism are primarily related to the lack of online tools and experience necessary to become involved with the online markets. Expensive bandwidth costs and slow connection speeds can hamper the availability of e-tourism as online travel agencies require “a reservation system that offers real-time availability.” Successful e-commerce also requires marketing tools and expertise, which now requires more and more presence on social media sites. These problems are being overcome by increasing the awareness of e-tourism’s profitability, availability of “real-time software reservations system[s]” and training for online marketing strategies. One company, e-Tourism Frontiers, has capitalized on the disparity between the desire to become involved with e-tourism and the lack of availability and experience required to do so on the continent. They set up conferences in different regions between online travel agencies and all types of accommodation, from major hotel chains to small backpackers, in order to bring the two together.


As the internet becomes more accessible throughout Africa and bandwidth costs decrease, Africa’s travel accommodation is becoming increasingly accessible online. The evolution towards e-tourism has been the fastest in South Africa, mostly due to the race to prepare for the World Cup, but is expected to spread across the continent. Even in Africa’s remote travel destinations e-tourism has begun to take root. For example, one game reserve in Uganda has already created Facebook pages for their Gorillas which include a link to online booking for interested travelers. The potential for increased tourism through online booking is an accessible and exciting prospect for Africa’s growing economies.

 

Reference: Southwood, Russell. “E-Tourism in the Continent Starts Spreading Post World Cup.” Balancing Act. AllAfrica.com, 3 June 2011. <http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/201106060402.html>.


Additional Information

An article from Business Daily titled “Battle for clients goes hi-tech as airlines turn to smartphones”: http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/-/539444/1177236/-/122hfe6z/-/

A video from the ‘E-Tourism Africa Summit 2009’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ET1w4l-g5KQ


Discussion Questions

1.       Do you believe markets must be online in order to be competitive? Which markets in particular?

2.       Do you think aid aimed at increasing internet access wasteful or necessary to develop economies? Where is internet access on the priority list?

3.       What other benefits, besides increased tourism, can a community or a household gain from internet access in developing countries? 

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