By Africa, for Africa?

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Africa needs to be reminded that at the 2014 edition of the World Export Development Forum held in Kigali in Rwanda from September 15-17, Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, sat alongside Hon. Abdou Jobe, the Minister for Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment of The Gambia; Mr. Marcio Favilla L. de Paula, the Executive Director for Operational Programs and Institutional Relations at UNWTO; Ms. Marjorie Straw, the Executive Chairman of the Caribbean Network of Service Coalitions in Jamaica; Mr. Pascal Lamy, the Chairman of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics at UNWTO; and Mr. Davidson M. Mugisha, the Managing Director of Wildlife Tours of Rwanda, as panelist in a session ‘Tourism for Development: Opportunities for SME trade’ where Ms. Shada Islam, the Policy Director of Friends of Europe, was moderator.

In a hall full of delegates and press the above mentioned panelist discussed tourism as an industry and analyzed especially the concept that the value chain offers to SMEs the opportunity to participate in trade by selling goods and services to hotels, restaurants, tour operators and others service providers directly involved in tourism. The panel discussion at the forum also tabled the notion that Trade in tourism is also about health, education and many more elements and the panel discussed in great detail the best practices in integrating local suppliers into the tourism value chains., thereby supporting income generation in communities. The panel also explored developing country opportunities in Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism.

It was during that panel discussion that the Seychelles Minister Alain St.Ange to great applause form the full house of delegates and press addressed the issue of the need of an Africa Brand. The Seychelles Minister said that Africa must work with Africa to help break the too often negative perception that exists on and about Africa. The Seychelles Minister cited as an example the current ebola crisis where the whole of Africa is today suffering economically as a result because of the perception that Africa is but a small country. “Even Seychelles situated in the middle of an ocean, far and really so far from any of the affected countries was today being hit by hotel cancellations from China, let alone the new travel difficulties within Africa. “We need an Africa Brand that spells out what is Africa,what are its key USPs, its diversity and the uniqueness of its people and culture. We need a map of Africa by Africa to explain where we stand every time we have a challenging situation that affects our continent” the Seychelles Minister, Alain St.Ange said.

Reaching an average growth rate of about 4% in 2013, compared to the 3% growth of the global economy, Africa proved again its dynamism and resilience to regional and international turmoil. Africa´s average growth is projected to accelerate to close to 5% in 2014 and 5%-6% in 2015, particularly enhanced by the vitality of West and East African economies. A fabulous window of opportunity, this solid growth must be more inclusive to achieve Africa’s economic transformation as well as political and social stability, better using the regional and global value chains to its benefits, and addressing future challenges such as the fast pace of urbanisation bringing along necessary changes in territorial policies.

The Africa Forum is the annual gathering where OECD and African policy-makers meet private sector representatives, academics and civil society leaders working on and with Africa to discuss the region’s main challenges and opportunities. Organised by the OECD development Centre in partnership with the African Union Commission, the 2014 edition will focus on the achievements and limits of the current transformation of African economies, notably through Africa’s insertion into the global and regional value chains, as well as the new challenges that territorial development policies and the growing discrepancy between rural and urban areas represent, in Africa.