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Facebook gets behind African entrepreneurs in a ‘celebration of tech’ week as part of its sponsorship of TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Africa
October 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
The event will see entrepreneurs and developers compete across three categories: social good; productivity and utility; and gaming and entertainment
Ime Archibong, Facebook's Vice President of Partnerships

Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Vice President of Partnerships

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 9, 2017/ — Showcasing Facebook’s (www.Facebook.com) passion for investing in creative, diverse talent across Africa, and nurturing the tech and startup ecosystem, Facebook announces a week-long celebration of activities as part of its sponsorship of TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Africa 2017 (http://APO.af/wJeqkQ).

In the first event of its kind on the continent, TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Africa 2017, will search for the best innovators, makers and technical entrepreneurs in Sub Saharan Africa. The event will see entrepreneurs and developers compete across three categories: social good; productivity and utility; and gaming and entertainment. It will tell the founders’ stories, uncovering the next wave of disruptive innovations and putting African invention under the global spotlight.

Ned Desmond, COO, TechCrunch adds, “We’re really pleased to be able to bring the first Startup Battlefield to Africa. This is an exciting event, with opportunities to discover the creativity, talent and imagination of startups from across the continent. TechCrunch has held events across the world, and being able to hold Battlefield Africa is a natural progression. We can’t wait to see the results.

Commenting on the partnership, Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Vice President of Partnerships said: “Our partnership with TechCrunch on Africa’s first ever Startup Battlefield event is a natural fit. We’re big believers in supporting and developing young, creative, diverse talent, and we also have a passion for supporting small businesses and startups as they grow, and nowhere is this more exciting than in the rich, diverse continent that is Africa.”

The Facebook team will be in Nairobi, Kenya from 9-12 October to take part in and host a number of events aimed at connecting, listening and learning from the startup and wider tech community:

  • TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Africa 2017 – a day-long event aimed at celebrating and uncovering the best innovators, makers and technical entrepreneurs in sub Saharan Africa. Taking to the stage will be:
    • Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Vice President of Partnerships
    • The Startup Journey to Success panel hosted by Emeka Afigbo (Facebook’s Head of Platform Partnerships for Middle East & Africa) with Chijioke Dozie (Co-founder and CEO, OneFi), Mark Essien (Founder and CEO, Hotels.ng) and Eric Thimba (Co-founder and CEO, MOOKH)
    • Uche Ofodile from the Facebook Connectivity team, taking part in a panel on ‘Solving Africa’s Connectivity Equation’
  • Facebook Platform Meetup, bringing together entrepreneurs, developers, and senior leaders at early-mid-stage startups in Kenya to learn how Facebook’s Platform products can help to accelerate their businesses 
  • Facebook Developer Circles Africa Masterclassa three-day training course bringing together Developer Circle leaders from across sub Saharan Africa
  • Women in Tech event – designed to engage with influential women working in Nairobi’s technology ecosystem and to share Facebook’s mission on Diversity
  • Developer Circles Nairobi Meetup – bringing together the Developer Circles Nairobi community in an evening of networking
  • Facebook Community event – aimed at bringing together Community Groups from across Nairobi
  • SMB, Agency & Content Creators Workshops – several workshops providing Kenyan entrepreneurs, agencies and SMB’s on how to grow their business using Instagram and Facebook

“With more than a billion people in Africa, we want to do more to enable businesses in the region to connect with people,” says Emeka Afigbo, Facebook’s Head of Platform Partnerships for Middle East & Africa. “We are excited to be part of a showcase of how African developers and tech entrepreneurs are empowering people and growing the economy.”

 

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SITA to provide 100% bag tracking for airlines at Istanbul new Airport from day one
October 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
SITA technology will allow airlines at one of the world’s biggest airports to track bags at every step
ISTANBUL, Turkey, October 9, 2017/ — İGA, contractor and designated operator of Istanbul New Airport, has appointed SITA (www.SITA.aero) to implement its innovative baggage tracking solution at what will be one of the world’s largest airports, allowing airlines to meet IATA Resolution 753’s baggage tracking requirements from day one.

The airport, due to open in 2018, will have capacity to accommodate 90 million passengers a year. Upon completion of all four phases, the passenger capacity will reach over 200 million passengers annually and will be required to track more than 750000 bags an hour. The potential for bags to be mishandled in such a busy environment will be significantly reduced with SITA’s baggage solution by providing information on where every single bag is on its route through the airport.

SITA’s baggage solutıon (http://APO.af/QvebHa) provides the IT infrastructure that makes it possible for airlines to track bags at key points in the journey, including check-in, transfer and arrival. Airlines will also be able to receive updates on where their baggage is at each step of the journey, allowing them to comply with IATA Resolution 753.

Yusuf Akçayoğlu, CEO of İGA Airports Construction said: “We fully understand that having the right technology will be essential to the successful operation of the new airport and future-proofing it for decades to come. It is also critical to ensuring our passengers fully benefit from our new, world-class facilities by providing innovative systems that make the journey through the airport enjoyable and effortless. We are confident that we will conclude this cooperation successfully.”

Ersin İnankul, CIO of İGA Airports Construction said: “In building a new facility, we have the opportunity to implement technology or capacity to accommodate new technologies. One of the technologies that will become a must-have is baggage tracking to meet the June 2018 deadline of Resolution 753. As a service to our airlines, we have partnered with SITA to implement the technology to meet the requirements from day one of operation.”

Jihad Boueri, SITA Vice President Airports for Middle East, India and Africa said: “Baggage is one key area where technology is improving the passenger experience. Increasingly airlines and airports are helping to relieve the anxiety of waiting for bags to arrive by providing real-time information on the status of their bags to passengers. At the same time, by understanding where a bag is at any point in its journey, airlines will be able to act proactively to ensure that a bag is correctly allocated to a flight, ensuring it arrives with the passenger at its destination.”

SITA’s Baggage Report 2017 showed that baggage management by airlines globally improved again in 2016 as the industry focuses on technology investments. According to the report, the rate of mishandled bags was 5.73 bags per thousand passengers in 2016, down 12.25% from the previous year and the lowest ever recorded.

SITA (www.SITA.aero) is the communications and IT solution provider that transforms air travel through technology for airlines, at airports and on aircraft. The company’s portfolio covers everything from managed global communications and infrastructure services, to eAircraft, passenger management, baggage, self-service, airport and border management solutions. Owned 100% by more than 400 air transport industry members, SITA has a unique understanding of its needs and places a strong emphasis on technology innovation.
Nearly every airline and airport in the world does business with SITA and its border management solutions are used by more than 30 governments. With a presence at more than 1,000 airports around the world and a customer service team of 2,000+ staff, SITA delivers unmatched service to more than 2,800 customers in more than 200 countries.
In 2016, SITA had consolidated revenues of US$1.5 billion. SITA’s subsidiaries and joint ventures include SITAONAIR (www.SITAONAIR.aero), CHAMP Cargosystems (www.Champ.aero) and Aviareto (www.Aviareto.aero).
For further information go to www.SITA.aero.

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Asoko Welcomes Submissions for Africa 2017 Forum Deal Room with COMESA
October 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

The Deal Room will connect some of Africa’s most enterprising SMEs and fast growth companies with investors to help them scale up their businesses.
London, 09 October 2017: Asoko Insight (Asoko), Africa’s largest repository of privately-held company information, will facilitate their second Deal Room at the forthcoming Africa 2017 Forum, to be held in Sharm El Sheikh between the 7th and 9th December.

Africa 2017 is the biggest B2B and B2G forum to take place in Africa this year, bringing together government delegations from over 30 countries and over 1,000 business leaders from across the continent.

The Forum, which will take place on the 8th and 9th December in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, will be preceded by a Young Entrepreneurs Day, on the 7th December aimed to connect tomorrow’s future business leaders, with like-minded entrepreneurs and help them, through a series of workshops and discussions, take their businesses to the next level.

The Deal Room is a platform that connects high investment potential African companies with angel investors, venture capital and private equity companies with the aim to help them raise capital and accelerate their growth. Asoko will facilitate the identification of these companies, support their preparation to pitch and use its network amongst the investor community to match capital to proven business models with great potential.

Speaking on the partnership, Asoko CEO and co-founder, Rob Withagen, said “We are delighted and excited to be an official knowledge partner at the Africa 2017 Forum. African businesses are rapidly growing in number and sophistication, but the challenge of positioning themselves in front of institutional investors and global corporates, remains. Being part of initiatives such as this, designed to enhance private sector cooperation and drive investment in sectors of strategic interest within Africa, is at the core of our vision at Asoko”.

The Deal Room at Africa 2017 will focus on companies from 3 sectors: i) agri/agribusiness;; ii) transport and logistics; and iii) light manufacturing. Each of these industry sectors align with the theme of Africa 2017 to promote inclusive growth and cross border trade in the African region.

The selection process will be completed by the end of October. Companies who meet the criteria can apply for consideration by submitting their company details through the following link by the 20th October:

Asoko Insight (Asoko) is Africa’s largest online repository of privately-held company information. Our objective is to facilitate instant access to reliable information on Africa’s most dynamic companies, at scale. With support of research teams based in Addis Ababa, Accra, Lagos and Nairobi, we have captured in-depth profiles on more than 10,000 mid to large cap corporates thus far and are rapidly adding to that number. We work with investors, corporates and governments worldwide who are looking for business partners and investment opportunities.

Africa 2017 Forum is held under the high patronage of H.E. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi on 7th to 9th December 2017 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and is organized by the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation of Egypt and the COMESA Regional Investment Agency (RIA).

The 2017 edition builds on the success of the inaugural Africa 2016, which saw participation of 6 Heads of State and more than 1,000 delegates from 45 countries. This year the programme has been enhanced with exclusive Presidential Roundtables with African leaders and CEOs as well as a Young Entrepreneurs Day.

Africa 2017 remains the premier business platform to nurture new partnerships; meet investors and fast track your business objectives in Africa. More information available here www.businessforafricaforum.com

*Asoko Insight

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Conferencing in Africa reaches for the stars
October 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

African conferencing facilities are becoming more than just venues for local gatherings and are now attracting major international events. The continent’s breath-taking natural beauty, rapidly developing infrastructure and vibrant multi-cultural people offer an increasingly attractive destination for some of the biggest global strategic events.  Elzaan van Rhyn, Groups and Convention Manager at Peermont discusses the growing sophistication of conferencing facilities in Africa and how they can benefit companies and local communities.

Peermont Walmont at The Grand Palm, Gaborone,Botswana

Peermont Walmont at The Grand Palm, Gaborone,Botswana

With the global economy expected to grow by just 2.7% in 2017 and the African economy by 2.9%, live events have maintained their relevance in a time of cost-cutting. This is despite the potential challenge from teleconferencing technology, which is delivering a much higher image and sound quality than ever before. While the global village is relying more and more on technology to connect people, nothing beats a live event where people can interact with each other for longer periods of time and in genuine ways.

Long-term relationships and contacts can be built without the worry of losing Internet connection or electricity, and nothing could ever replace the subtle nuances of face-to-face contact that are lost even through the most advanced digital contact. Along with a vibrant grass-roots economy, the continent’s unique cultural and tourism experiences mean the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry in Africa is starting to boom, despite budget cuts.

In fact, while companies and government departments might cut marketing, advertising and promotion costs, budgets are being diverted to conferences and exhibitions, as the measurable return on investment is more substantial and impactful. Increasingly, conference organisers are looking for fresh locations that leave attendees inspired and energised – especially where team building, sales, strategy and creativity are critical elements to the event process.

Global conference organisers also want to host their events at the best locations, where their delegates won’t be distracted by the hustle and bustle of big city life. The growing trend towards ‘bleisure’ hospitality, where companies seek to combine ‘business’ and ‘leisure’ elements, is serving to create memorable, informative experiences in stress-free environments.

Developers are picking up on this trend and leading leisure properties are being renovated to include world-class conference centres to cater for business and industry events, along with entertainment. In this way, visitors to African destinations are offered the benefit of sophisticated corporate facilities along with the natural beauty and excitement of the African continent.

There’s no better time than now for owners of traditionally leisure-focused assets to boost their conferencing capabilities. While upgrade costs might be daunting, the long-term benefits are immeasurable. Owners benefit from referrals and marketing their properties while the surrounding economy is stimulated through job creation and new supply chains.

The Grand Palm in Botswana and the Umodzi Park in Malawi are two exciting properties that are attracting people who might otherwise have not even visited the continent.

In 2016, The Grand Palm Resort, located in Gaborone, erected a new multi-purpose marquee to add versatility to the resort, especially for large scale events. Since then it was picked as host to the widely televised World’s Strongest Man contest, performances by musician Monique Bingham and the Royal Moscow Ballet, among others.

In 2017, The Grand Palm’s four-star Walmont hotel began upgrades to create a world-class aesthetic quality, including a complete revamp of its Okavango and Moremi conference rooms. With new interior design and a full refurbishment of the main conference hall and breakaway rooms, the Conference Centre received a modern facelift that rivals leading venues abroad. With the casino also being completely overhauled, delegates will experience the same standard of excellence across the entire resort.

In Malawi, construction on Umodzi Park commenced in 2009 and was completed in 2012 as a mixed-use facility. It is the ideal business getaway, featuring the 130-room President Walmont Hotel, the only five-star hotel in Malawi. Adjacent to this is the Bingu Wa Mutharika International Convention Centre, which has 15 different venues and the capacity to host 1,500 people in its main auditorium.

The Convention Centre was picked to host events such as the 2017 Miss Malawi pageant and the successful African Land Forces Summit, which received delegates from 44 countries in May, including the US, France, UK, Brazil and leaders from across Africa.

 

 

These properties are rare jewels in the African hospitality industry, and as more people enjoy their state-of-the-art features, they will continue to attract interest from global conferences, international musical performances and mega trade exhibitions.

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Nigerian industrialist Aliko Dangote shares secret of backward integration with investors: “Produce the entire value chain”
October 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
Nigerian industrialist Aliko Dangote shares secret of backward integration with investors: “Produce the entire value chain”
 
Aliko Dangote

Aliko Dangote

LONDON, United Kingdom, October 9, 2017/ — At the Financial Times’ 4th annual Africa Summit (http://APO.af/qv2dZF) at Claridges in London, editor in chief Lionel Barber conducted an extraordinarily candid public conversation with Nigerian Aliko Dangote, Africa’s most successful business leader, in the presence of Nigerian vice-president Professor Yemi Osingajo, Congolese presidential hopeful Moise Katumbi, and about 300 business leaders.

Mastering detailed production statistics and highly-compelling demographics on promising sectors of the African economy, Dangote outlined the key to his success: self-sufficiency and backward integration, a manufacturing strategy that extracts value from entire processes. “We are not going to import anything any longer,” he said. “In Nigeria we are learning how to produce the entire value chain.” Once a heavy importer of fertilizer, Nigeria is now gearing up to produce 3M tonnes of locally manufactured fertilizer, transforming the nation into one of the largest fertilizer exporters in Africa.

In 2007 Nigeria was the second largest importer of cement after the US, Dangote reminded the audience of business elites. “Today, we have not only satisfied domestic needs; we have become a leading exporter of 6-7M tonnes of cement,” he added.

Diversifying into agriculture, Dangote has eyes on the dairy industry motivated by the fact that “98% of all milk consumed in Nigeria is imported.” Same for rice.  Dangote Group has invested heavily in rice production by investing in local farmers and then offering to buy back the 1M tonnes at open market prices that they are growing. “Soon we will be able to feed not only Nigeria but the entire 320M large West African market.”

Dangote’s business accumen was on rare exhibition as FT editor Lionel Barber himself seemed impressed with the business mogul’s quick familiarity with the nuts and bolts of his businesses. “Are we going to continue to import everything?” Dangote asked. “Freight rates are now cheap but they will go up soon. A population of over 200M cannot continue to import basic needs on a daily basis,” he answered himself.

By 2100 Dangote stated Africa will represent 49% of the world’s population, up from 30% today. “If you don’t think big we won’t grow at all,” he said. “In Africa you have to play long-term.”

Aside from Nigeria, which African nations do you think are good growth opportunities? Barber asked Dangote. “Aside from Nigeria?” the business leader repeated and smiled. “I’d have to pick Nigeria. I am a big fan of Nigeria. We are only using 8% of our land.”

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SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS EXTENDS GROUP BOOKING PROMOTION
October 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

Get a complimentary* ticket when booking 10 or more passengers traveling to Africa

Fort Lauderdale, FL (October 09, 2017) – South African Airways (SAA), the national flag carrier of South Africa and Africa’s most awarded airline, has extended its special group booking promotion of offering one free tour conductor ticket* (restrictions apply) for every 10 group passengers traveling on SAA.

This offer is valid for new group bookings made and deposits received by October 31, 2017, for travel from October 26 through December 9, 2017, and January 11 through March 31, 2018. Travel is applicable on SAA-operated flights from New York-JFK Airport or Washington, DC-Dulles Airport to any
SAA destination in Africa.

“We invite families, friends, coworkers and travel clubs to take advantage of SAA’s low group fares and this special tour conductor offer to explore and experience the wonders of Africa,” said Todd Neuman, executive vice president, North America for South African Airways. “With this tremendous value, your group can experience the vibe of Africa’s cosmopolitan cities, enjoy an exhilarating game safari to view the Big Five, indulge in amazing wine and culinary delights, or spend quality time together under the majestic African skies.”

South African Airways offers the most service from the U.S. to South Africa and an extensive route network throughout the African continent. SAA’s competitive group fares and its dedicated group sales specialists are available to assist with all your group’s travel needs, including complimentary seat assignments. We invite groups big or small to experience SAA’s award-winning in-flight service designed
for pure comfort for long-haul travel with a roomy economy class cabin, gourmet cuisine and a selection of complimentary spirits and award-winning South African wines and, generous checked baggage allowance. Also included are individual audio / visual entertainment systems that deliver an extensive menu of first-run movies and music choices. Via our Johannesburg hub, SAA links the world to over 75
destinations across Southern Africa and Africa’s Indian Ocean islands.

To request your group quote, email GroupsNA@flysaa.com, or contact your local professional travel consultant. Visit www.flysaa.com to learn more about the exciting destinations we service.

South African Airways (SAA), South Africa’s national flag carrier and the continent’s most awarded airline, serves over 75 destinations worldwide in partnership with SA Express, Airlink and its low cost carrier Mango.

In North America, SAA operates daily nonstop flights from New York-JFK and direct flights from Washington D.C.-IAD (via Accra, Ghana and Dakar, Senegal) to Johannesburg. SAA has
partnerships with United Airlines, Air Canada and JetBlue Airways, American Airlines and Virgin America, which offer convenient connections from more than 100 cities in the U.S. and Canada to SAA’s flights. SAA is a Star Alliance member and the recipient of the Skytrax 4-Star rating for 15 consecutive years.

Complimentary Tour Conductor tickets are subject to applicable taxes & surcharges. Complimentary Tour Conductor ticket is awarded after a group of 10 or more paying passengers. Special is valid for new bookings only. Valid for ad-hoc groups only (no
series producers). Valid for travel 10/26/2017 – 12/9/2017 & 1/11/2018 – 3/31/2018. Valid for travel from New York (JFK) or Washington
Dulles (IAD) to Africa. Entire group (including tour conductor) must travel together. Valid on SAA-operated flights only. Groups must be booked and deposited by 9/30/2017. Seats are limited and may not be available on all flights. Change & cancellation penalties apply, per applicable group reservation and fare rules. Baggage and optional service fees may apply. Reservations made 7 days or more prior to scheduled departure may be canceled without penalty up to 24 hours after the reservation is made

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WAQSP Stakeholders To Implement Of ECOWAS Regional Quality Database
October 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Jerry Emmanson, Abuja

The West Africa Quality System Programme (WAQSP), has organised a regional information workshop for the validation of the draft framework document for the implementation of the ECOWAS quality and industry database at a 2day workshop in Abuja.

The programme implemented by UNIDO and funded by European Union is aimed at establishing a framework for the development and exploitation of appropriate, relevant, effective and efficient quality infrastructures, to facilitate intra-regional and international trade, protect the consumer and environment and promote sustainable economic development.
The WAQSP within its framework plans, among other activities, to establish a database on quality and industry within the ECOWAS region. This database is mainly for economic operators in the region. It will provide concrete answers in response to the many requests for statistical data.

Speaking at the event on the need to enhance quality infrastructure across West Africa, Representative of EU Delegation to Nigeria & ECOWAS, Jens Hoegel, First Counsellor Head of Health, Nutrition & Resilience Section, said: “I think we have made good progress with the document that is necessary to make the next step, and it is a good sign of cooperation on the one hand between ECOWAS, and a good sign of acknowledging the quality systems that provides the basis for economic development. The EU will continue in its effort to provide inclusive growth in all of ECOWAS member states.”

Also speaking on the importance of database to industrialisation, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Ikechukwu Enelamah, represented by Dr Francis Alanene, Director Of Industry with the Ministry, said: “Database has created completely new dimension of growth around the world. The initiative to establish ECOWAS quality and industrial database is a welcome development in the region.

“By accurately recording industrial data, updating and tracking such data on an efficient and regular basis, Nations will have the opportunity to address their industrial challenges.”
ECOWAS Commissioner for Industry and Private Sector Promotions, Mr Kalilou Traore in his address, stressed the need to provide regional structure, database and information system to enterprises and policy makers for effective implementation of quality programmes.

The objective of the meeting is said to submit for the validation of directors in charge of Industry in Member States the framework document supporting the ECOWAS Quality and Industrial Database including the metadata and its filling guide.
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Hilton Launches Africa Growth Initiative
October 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
Initiative expected to add 100 properties to its portfolio over the next five years
DT Hurlingham Nairobi Reception

DT Hurlingham Nairobi Reception

MCLEAN, United States of America, October 5, 2017/ — Hilton  has committed a total of $50 million over the next five years towards the Hilton Africa Growth Initiative to support the continued expansion of its Sub-Saharan African portfolio.

These funds are intended to support the conversion of around 100 hotels (roughly 20,000 rooms) in multiple African markets into Hilton branded properties, namely into its flagship Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand, the upscale DoubleTree by Hilton and the recently launched Curio Collection by Hilton.

Patrick Fitzgibbon, Senior Vice President, Development, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Hilton said: “Hilton remains committed to growth in Africa having been present on the continent for more than 50 years. The model of converting existing hotels into Hilton branded properties has proved highly successful in a variety of markets and we expect to see great opportunities to convert hotels to Hilton brands through this initiative.”

DT Hurlingham Nairobi restaurant

DT Hurlingham Nairobi restaurant

“It enables us to rapidly grow our portfolio and delivers returns for owners by increasing exposure of their business to more international, inter-regional and domestic travellers, and specifically to our 65 million-plus Hilton Honors members, who look to stay with us in our suite of industry-leading brands. We see huge potential here in key cities and airports, as well as allowing us to develop our offering in resorts and safari lodges.”

These hotels will receive all the benefits associated with Hilton’s industry-leading brand proposition and world-class commercial platforms. Guests will also be able to take advantage of  Hilton’s innovative technology platforms such as online check-in and the ability to choose individual rooms when booking via the Hilton Honors App.

Fitzgibbon added: “The range of brands we have at our disposal allows owners the flexibility to pick the right fit for their property. We have already deployed this initiative in the signing of two hotels: our first DoubleTree by Hilton property in Kenya, and our first hotel in Rwanda, and expect to be able to announce further additions before the end of this year.”

DoubleTree by Hilton Nairobi Hurlingham

The first hotel to benefit from this initiative is the 109 guest room Amber Hotel on Nairobi’s Ngong Road, which will re-launch under the upscale DoubleTree by Hilton brand. The hotel, which opened in 2016, is currently undergoing a series of renovations and will join the brand by the end of the year. Following the refurbishment, the hotel will be known as DoubleTree by Hilton Nairobi Hurlingham and will continue to be operated by the owner under a franchise agreement through the leadership of its current General Manager, Elisha Katam.

DoubleTree by Hilton Kigali City Centre

DT Kigali City Centre

DT Kigali City Centre

The 153 room Ubumwe Grande Hotel in the Kigali central business district will trade under the upscale DoubleTree by Hilton brand when it fully converts in 2018. This franchised property – with 134 guest rooms and 19 apartments – opened in September 2016. The hotel will undergo some changes in order to rebrand and will be Hilton’s first property in Rwanda. Once rebranded, the hotel will trade as the DoubleTree by Hilton Kigali City Centre.

Hilton currently operates 19 hotels in the Sub Saharan Africa region with a further 29 in its pipeline. It has held a presence on the African continent for over 50 years.

Hilton  is a leading global hospitality company, with a portfolio of 14 world-class brands comprising more than 5,000 properties with more than 825,000 rooms in 103 countries and territories. Hilton is dedicated to fulfilling its mission to be the world’s most hospitable company by delivering exceptional experiences – every hotel, every guest, every time. The company’s portfolio includes Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Curio Collection by HiltonTM, DoubleTree by Hilton, Tapestry Collection by HiltonTM, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton by Hilton, Tru by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations.

The company also manages an award-winning customer loyalty program, Hilton Honors. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose exactly how many Points to combine with money, an exclusive member discount that can’t be found anywhere else and free standard Wi-Fi.

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Off-grid Solar set to triple in Africa
October 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
The IEA has found that the amount of power from solar grew by more than 50%, and has officially increased energy output globally at a faster rate than any other fuel
LAGOS, Nigeria, October 6, 2017/ —

  • Off- grid solar will bring basic electricity services to almost 70 million more people in Asia and sub Saharan Africa

A new report has confirmed that Solar is now the fastest growing energy source in the world, and is making a major impact in Africa. The International Energy Agency’s 2017 report on renewables forecasts that off-grid solar capacity in Africa is set to almost triple in the next five years, saying that it will “bring basic electricity services to almost 70 million more people in Asia and sub Saharan Africa”.

The IEA has found that the amount of power from solar grew by more than 50%, and has officially increased energy output globally at a faster rate than any other fuel. The report specifically highlights off-grid solar as a ‘dynamic’ sector set to accelerate this growth.

Lumos (www.Lumos-Global.com), a company that offers one of the fastest growing off-grid solar services in Africa, is at the forefront of this expansion. Lumos launched its Mobile Electricity Service and the Y’ello Box in partnership with MTN in Nigeria earlier this year. The device transforms the sun’s energy into electricity and is paid for via your mobile phone.

According to the IEA, off-grid capacity in Africa and Asia is set to reach “over 3000 MW in 2022.” CEO of Lumos Nigeria, Yuri Tsitrinbaum, said: “This is the latest evidence that off-grid solar is providing the answer to growing energy demand in Africa. There is no other option available that can provide energy that is as affordable, reliable, and clean.”

“We are changing the way people access electricity, and this is only the beginning. Mobile phones improved millions of lives, and now we are seeing the same thing with mobile electricity.”

Lumos Mobile Electricity Service is available at MTN stores across Nigeria. By subscribing to the service, customers get one of the revolutionary Y’ello Box systems that converts solar energy into electricity for the home, paid for by phone credit and a simple text message. It’s reliable, affordable and powerful.

The IEA report projects that over the next five years, services like Lumos will be the catalysts and drivers of innovative payment solutions that can allow low-income populations access to electricity.

Lumos (Lumos-Global.com) brings affordable, modern and clean electricity to communities that have been living off-grid.
Lumos connects the dots between the mobile payment revolution and solar energy through its patented, self-deployable solar power system, with integrated cellular payment and advanced security mechanisms. With Lumos, households in the off-grid world can replace generators, candles, and flashlights with modern electricity that can power lights, cellphones, fans, laptops, TVs and other small electronic devices, and all for less the cost spent today on generators – on a lease to own basis, subscription via the mobile phone.

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Taking an intelligent approach to Africa’s promising mobility revolution
October 7, 2017 | 0 Comments
Despite the continent’s transport infrastructure lagging behind global standards for decades, Africa is bracing itself for a transport revolution as more countries embrace the onset of new technology
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 5, 2017/ —

  • Kevin Pillay - Vice President for Mobility at Siemens Africa

    Kevin Pillay – Vice President for Mobility at Siemens Africa

    Electrification, automation and digitalization of existing infrastructure gives citizens access to safe, reliable and efficient modes of transport

  • Intelligent traffic systems reduce road congestion, automated rail infrastructure improves train efficiency and commuter safety
  • Well-integrated intelligent mobility network promotes a culture of eco-friendly travel and healthier living

Despite the continent’s transport infrastructure lagging behind global standards for decades, Africa is bracing itself for a transport revolution as more countries embrace the onset of new technology.

This sets the scene for a new era of intelligent mobility in Africa, writes Kevin Pillay – Vice President for Mobility at Siemens Africa (Siemens.com).

Intelligent mobility involves the electrification, automation and digitalization of existing transport infrastructure, and gives every citizen access to safe, reliable and efficient modes of transport.

The need and demand for intelligent mobility in Africa has never been greater – World Economic Forum competitiveness data reveals that only three African countries feature in the top 50 globally for quality of roads, quality of rail and quality of ports infrastructure respectively.

World Bank data also indicates that the Sub-Saharan African railway network has declined to 59,634km today, down from 65,661km in 1980 with only about 70% of the railway network in operational state.

At face value, it seems as though the continent faces insurmountable transport challenges. But the reality is that we are already setting the wheels in motion to create interconnected, more modern and efficient African transport networks that keep economies on the move, rather than hindering them. This development will not happen overnight, and will be realised one step at a time.

Intelligent traffic systems 

Many African cities have traffic infrastructure plagued by unreliable power supply. To the frustration of motorists, timing of traffic lights stays the same regardless of actual conditions, and many are faulty and take weeks to repair. This means that the road infrastructure can’t handle peak traffic, not because of technology but because of the lack of proper technological investment.

The challenge is partly that these traffic systems have grown in an unco-ordinated way, with lots of different suppliers and systems cobbled together. Speeding and traffic light violations are a problem, and there is limited technology deployed to support effective traffic law enforcement.

Concern of this situation has been expressed by officials and road users alike, who say congestion and accidents have reached alarming levels. Inefficiencies in these transport systems affect a country’s ability to attract and maintain investment.

So where do we begin?

The adoption of intelligent traffic systems (ITS) will keep Africa’s busiest cities as fast-moving investment destinations. ITS includes deployment of smart sensor systems with intelligent algorithms to automatically adapt to improve traffic flow.

Two-way communication can be enabled by running fibre between traffic junctions and a central control centre to gather information from intelligent networked systems, sensors and cameras at every junction. This allows traffic lights to be adjusted according to demand.

Nigeria’s Edo State government recently announced its intention to upgrade to a technologically-advanced ITS system that provides real-time traffic information in Benin City. As part of the integrated solution, motorists and commuters will be informed about travel times, weather conditions and traffic jams on radio or online.

With all traffic management systems automated and digitalized, technology like automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras can be utilised to efficiently enforce traffic rules.

Average speed over distance (ASOD) technology captures the time when a specific vehicle enters and exits the ASOD zone. The journey time is compared against the distance travelled and authorities are automatically notified if the prescribed speed limit was exceeded.

This improves the safety of drivers, passengers and pedestrians. It also minimises the risk of corruption, while promoting best practice among traffic enforcement officers who are exposed to a new skillset when trained in operating these new systems.

Automated rail infrastructure 

Another effective means of reducing congestion on overburdened and under maintained roads in Africa is through greater investment in upgrading passenger rail networks.

Some of the world’s cities with the most advanced transport networks feature fast, efficient, safe and clean rail mobility networks powered by Siemens, and African cities can benefit from expertise in centralised traffic management and automation systems, including train control systems with minimum line side equipment linked to modern control centres.

A clear case in point is the Gauteng Nerve Centre (GNC) in South Africa. The 3400 m2 state-of-the art control centre for centralised rail traffic management in South Africa’s economic hub of Gauteng accommodates 35 train control operators in one place, and constantly monitors Gauteng’s rail traffic where over 600 trains carry more than 500,000 commuters on a daily basis.

The GNC boasts world-class automation capabilities and can immediately respond to any operating failures, accidents and other incidents, thereby enabling greater efficiencies in rail operations and train safety, while offering a more reliable service through higher infrastructure utilisation.

Siemens’ proven railway capabilities are set be bolstered further, following the mobility business’ recent announcement of its intention to merge with French railway engineering specialist Alstom.

With a strong presence in, and dedicated commitment to Africa, this anticipated partnership will create an African champion in mobility.

Intelligent, integrated mobility ensures environmental sustainability 

Transportation is the world’s second-biggest producer of greenhouse gases. In 2015 motor vehicles, trains, ships, and planes emitted 7.5 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, accounting for almost a quarter of all CO2 emissions worldwide.

Today transportation-related emissions are already about 60 percent higher than in 1990. One of the reasons for this is the dramatic increase in the number of vehicles in developing countries and emerging markets – of which Africa is home to many.

According to forecasts, transportation-related CO2 emissions will increase by another 67 percent between now and 2050. Clearly, in view of this, the global community must take decisive action to bring about a worldwide transition to sustainable transportation systems.

A well-integrated intelligent multi-modal transport network promotes a culture of eco-friendly travel and healthier living, as it reduces traffic congestion and COemissions by transporting more people more safely and more comfortably, using newer and cleaner technology without relying on fossil fuels.

The time for intelligent mobility is now 

If Africa truly wants to unleash its full potential, then sufficient funds must be responsibly invested in upgrading existing transport and logistics infrastructure like road, rail and ports, in addition to new concepts that include electric bus rapid transport and ferries, to name a few.

Intelligent and integrated traffic systems are part of the future of transport in the world’s advanced cities. If Africa seizes the opportunity, many of its cities will be on that list, and the continent’s citizens will reap the rewards. That is the way forward.

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Ghana Aims to Regain Top Spot in Cocoa Production
October 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

Kwaku Botwe*

Professor Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa

Professor Emmanuel Afoakwa

Ghana is home to the world’s favourite cocoa beans. They’re bigger in size, have a higher butter content and superior flavour – all qualities which make Ghana’s cocoa the world standard against which all cocoa is measured.

But while cocoa used to be the biggest foreign exchange earner for the West African country, contributing about 45 percent of the total foreign exchange earnings, now the commodity barely provides 25 percent.

Farmers in Ghana follow a strict routine in the planting, harvesting and drying of cocoa, supported and monitored by the government regulator, the Ghana Cocoa Board.

They employ natural drying of the beans in the sun (instead of heating), turning the beans at regular intervals for not less than a week. This natural and painstaking means of drying ensures the beans turn out their characteristic golden brown. The layers of monitoring at the time of purchase are all part of government’s intervention.

The country is the second biggest supplier of cocoa worldwide, beaten only by its West African neighbour, Cote D’Ivoire. But Ghana was once the world champion. It lost the first spot to its neighbour in the 1970s after government reduced the price given to farmers, thereby discouraging many from going into the venture.

Exchanging Golden Pods for Golden Nuggets

Several factors have contributed to the shortfall. Distribution of free or subsidized farm inputs such as fertilizers or chemicals have been fraught with several challenges.

“Not all of us were given the free fertilizers. And they were politicizing it. Someone with a small farm of four acres could be given 50 bags of fertilizer while others with very big farms were given less,” Abusuapanyin Kwabena Amankwaa, a cocoa farmer, told IPS.

Central Regional Chief Cocoa Farmer Nana Kwasi Ofori also said that “farmers who are not cultivating cocoa were given some of the inputs”.

CEO of the Cocoa Board Joseph Baidoo has said his interactions with farmers revealed that Ghana’s fertilizers – which are not supposed to be for sale – were in fact being sold in Nigeria, Gabon and other neighbouring African countries, adding that this meant the free fertilizers were given to political party loyalists who were not cocoa farmers.

Diseases such as black pod, swollen shoot, and capsids have had a field day as a result.

The new government decided to discontinue the free fertilizer programme following what it says were complaints from farmers. Instead, it wants to sell the fertilizer at subsidized prices.

Ghana has an annual cocoa production target of one million tonnes. That target was achieved in 2011. Since then government has struggled to maintain the target, with annual production hovering around 800,000 tonnes.

In previous years, government decided to absorb the cost and technical assistance needed to apply the right chemicals and fertilizers to cocoa farms nationwide – initiatives called the Mass Spraying Exercise and the Hi-tech Programme, respectively.

Government also created the Rehabilitation Programme where old, less productive trees were felled and replaced with new, more-yielding hybrid seedlings for free. This saw a big dividend in cocoa bean output, with the country recording its highest cocoa output of over 1 million tonnes in 2011. But government has not been able to sustain the programme.

Probably the biggest threat to hit the cocoa industry in recent times is illegal mining, locally called galamsey. The upsurge in the search for gold between 2012 and 2016 has threatened the livelihoods of several cocoa farmers as galamsey takes over cocoa farms.

“Some chiefs are part of the problem which we are facing. They sell the land to the miners and collect the money so sometimes farmers are not even compensated,” said Nana Kwasi Ofori, an executive member of the Cocoa Farmers Association.

Most farmers are tenant farmers who work on lands owned by chiefs or families. Fifty-three-year-old Adwoa Oforiwaa, a cocoa farmer in the Central Region, says she was only given 500 cedis (about 112 dollars) as compensation when galamsey operators took over a good part of her farm.

“When they [galamsey operators] come, they tell you they have orders from the chiefs or even government, and they start the destruction,” she added.

A journalist in the Western Region – the leading cocoa-producing region in Ghana – Yaw Obrempong says some farmers willingly sell off their cocoa farms for ready cash.

“If the galamsey operator is here with a bag full of cash, why won’t I sell my land instead of staying in a queue for over two weeks only to be given a bag of fertilizer?” Obrempong noted.

He says some farmers claim they had to pay bribes in order to get farm inputs from the government. Other farmers sold their lands when the much-needed labour to work on the cocoa farms shifted into illegal mining.

But Nana Kwasi Ofori says, “They [farmers who sell their lands] don’t know what they are doing because cocoa is a legacy that can be left to children, unlike one-time cash.”

The galamsey invasion has affected a good part of the 1.7 million hectares of cocoa farms in the country.  The Government has launched an anti-galamsey crusade to flush out illegal miners. With the help of a taskforce including the military, several arrests and confiscation of galamsey equipment have been carried out.

The launch of the Media Coalition against Galamsey has also given government a shot in the arm. Government has moved the crusade a notch higher with the announcement by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources of its intention to procure drones at the cost of 3 million dollars for surveillance.

Guaranteed Pricing

Nonetheless, cocoa remains the most important economic crop for Ghana, raking in about 2 billion dollars annually, contributing to some 4.22 percent of the country’s GDP.  Such a feat has been achieved through government interventions such as price stability. For instance, the world price of cocoa beans has plummeted from about 3,122 dollars per tonne last year to about 1,900 dollars this year, yet the Cocoa Board maintained s producer price of 7,600 cedis per tonne (1,700 dollars).

The Board is able to cushion farmers with a Stabilization Fund established some ten years ago, as well as other sources of funds. This presents a big advantage for cocoa farmers in Ghana over other cocoa-producing countries on the continent this year.

For instance, the Ivorian government has slashed the prices of cocoa almost by a third, to 700 CFA per kg (about 1,300 dollars per tonne). Some Ghanaians have expressed concern that the development is likely to reverse the dreaded cross-border smuggling of cocoa (Ghana has in the past seen a lot of its cocoa smuggled to their neighbor countries because of price differences).

But professor of Food Science and Technology at the University of Ghana, Emmanuel Afoakwa says “it is not likely because Ghana is bent on protecting its premium quality and so there is tight security to ensure cocoa does not move from Cote D’Ivoire and other countries into the country”.

He adds that “farmers must cherish that government is interested in their welfare because government now loses about 500 dollars on every tonne of cocoa bought from them”.

The Ghana Cocoa Board also has an arrangement to pay for the felling and replanting of old and diseased cocoa trees. The board has announced that it will be giving away about 60 million seedlings to farmers for replanting. The exercise, called rehabilitation, is meant to boost output.

The Government also has a programme to woo youth into the sector to replace aging cocoa farmers. The Board is providing support for all young cocoa farmers by giving them hybrid pods, improved seedlings, free fertilizer and inputs, a farmer business school programme, as well as extension support to boost cocoa production. Cocoa farmers are also pushing for a Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme which they believe will help attract the youth.

Cocoa Processing

To maximize revenue from cocoa, the government has its eyes on adding value to the cocoa it exports. The global cocoa market has an estimated value of 9 billion dollars for unprocessed cocoa beans, about 28 billion dollars for semi-processed/intermediate products and a whopping 87 billion dollars for fully processed/final products. In an attempt to get its share of the 87-billion-dollar cake, government has set a target of processing 50 percent of its exported cocoa.

Currently, the seven processing companies operating at various levels of value-addition process about 25 percent of the county’s exported cocoa. But most of the processed cocoa are exported in semi-processed form of cocoa paste.

Prof. Afoakwa says the huge capital requirement involved in processing cocoa into finished products fit for export could be a big hurdle for Ghana. Moreover, there are high tariff walls with regards to the export of processed products. For example, the European Union levies no duties on the import of raw cocoa beans, but levies a 7.7 percent and 15 percent duty on cocoa powder and cocoa cake, respectively.

He believes heightening the campaign on the consumption of cocoa products would be one way of tackling the issue.

“I’m working with Ghana Cocoa Board to conduct the cocoa product processing competition and we are bringing together ten different polytechnic institutions to develop new products using cocoa. We are going to invite high schools to come witness it. What we are trying to do is to advocate for higher consumption of cocoa products and this can be done when we know the kind of different products that we can make out of cocoa,” he added.

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Internet Disruptions Costing Africa Circa $ 300 million
October 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Technology entrepreneurs work from their computers and mobile phone, at Activspaces co-working tech hub in Douala, Cameroon Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. Internet users in English-speaking regions lost connectivity from all three telecom internet companies, after the Cameroon government warned against anti-state comments and fake news on social media. Technology start-ups are suffering from the ban, and some travel to French-speaking cities to keep their businesses operating.Pic credit Irene Zih Fon, GPJ Cameroon

Technology entrepreneurs work from their computers and mobile phone, at Activspaces co-working tech hub in Douala, Cameroon Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. Internet users in English-speaking regions lost connectivity from all three telecom internet companies, after the Cameroon government warned against anti-state comments and fake news on social media. Technology start-ups are suffering from the ban, and some travel to French-speaking cities to keep their businesses operating.Pic credit Irene Zih Fon, GPJ Cameroon

Internet shutdowns in Sub-Saharan Africa have
cost the region up to US$ 237 million since 2015, according to a report to
released by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and
Southern Africa (CIPESA).

Using a newly developed framework, the report
estimates the cost of internet shutdowns in 10 African countries, and notes
that the economic losses caused by an internet disruption persist far
beyond the days on which the shutdown occurs, because network disruptions
unsettle supply chains and have systemic effects that harm efficiency
throughout the economy.

The report says that despite the increasing benefits associated with
access to the internet and
the contribution of the ICT sector to GDP in Sub-Saharan Africa, since 2015
there have been state-initiated internet disruptions in at least 12
countries in the region.

While it is clear how internet shutdowns affect users’ fundamental rights,
such as the right of access to information and freedom of expression, the
impact of disruptions on a country’s economy and citizens’ livelihoods is
rarely as clearly articulated due to a lack of verifiable data. That made
it necessary to develop a framework that can be used to estimate the
economic cost of shutdowns in SSA.

The report shows the losses in USD terms which each of the countries
studied lost during the duration of the network disruptions. The report
also shows that:

· The economic cost of an internet disruption persist far beyond the
days on which the disruption occurs because the disruption unsettle supply
chains and have systemic effects, harming efficiency throughout the economy.

· Internet disruptions, however short-lived, undermine economic
growth, disrupt the delivery of critical services, erode business
confidence, and raise a country’s risk profile

· Shutdowns have a high economic impact at micro and macro levels,
adversely affecting the livelihoods of citizens, undermining the
profitability of business enterprises, and reducing the GDP and
competitiveness of countries that implement them.

It is added that disruptions have been witnessed during national
exams as was the case in
Ethiopia, during elections in countries such as Chad, Gabon, Gambia,
Republic of Congo, and Uganda. Public protests have also led to internet
disruptions in countries like Burundi, the Central African Republic,
Cameroon, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, and Togo.

Internet shutdowns have also been witnessed in countries, some of which have
very low internet penetration and usage figures. According to the ITU,
Cameroon, Uganda and Niger have internet usage percentages of 25%, 21.9%
and 4.4% respectively. The three countries have experienced internet
disruptions for 93 days, 6 days and 3 days respectively between 2016 and
2017. The significant contribution of the ICT sector and of more prevalent
internet services to the economy and society cannot be disputed. This is
more so in most African economies where the contribution of the ICT sector
to GDP is on average 5%, a contribution greater than in many countries in
Europe and Asia.

The report was launched recently at the *Forum
on Internet Freedom in Africa *which was held in Johannesburg,
South Africa.

The Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa 2017 (FIFAfrica17): *This
year, FIFAfrica17 is co-hosted by the Collaboration on International ICT
Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) and the Association for
Progressive Communication (APC). The two organisations have a history of
advocating for the advancement of digital rights in Africa and beyond. The
discussions of the forum are built around themes which engage with the 13
principles of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms (
www.africaninternetrights.org).

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