The journey of conferring Nigeria with the status of “Eldorado of Africa and World Tourism/Investment Destination, is a movement commemorated by a series of Webinars convened by Goge Africa’s founders – Isaac and Nneka Moses.
Attracting investors and stakeholders from 17 different countries in Africa and the Diaspora, captured below are the highlights of Series 02 of the “Cross-Sectoral Collaboration for Tourism and Economic Development”:
Africa, according to R. Toby Bailey – CEO at Borg Investment Bank, USA; is a key territory on the global map and holds a strategic position for investors. This assertion is backed by the promises and riches of untapped minerals, massive human and capital resources inherent to the Continent. Having identified these huge potential, his organization is interested in investing, wholly or partially towards exploiting this potential in Africa. Key sectors which his investment opportunities are open to include: refining and mining of Gold; the biggest film industry in Africa, Nollywood; transportation, banking, insurance, asset-based solutions and healthcare. All these sectors are to be driven by technology, as the infusion of new ideals for efficiency.
Nigeria as a country has been unable to successfully attract Foreign Direct Investment to its tourism eco-system, irrespective of its: natural endowments, rich culture, exotic wildlife and vagrant vegetation. Despite the growth of technology and an increasing culture of travel, Nigeria isn’t a choice destination for tourists and investors, unlike her contemporaries in Africa. Toki Mabogunje – President Lagos Chamber of Commerce, observed that this dearth in investment can be traced to infrastructural deficit, image crisis, inadequate policies, institutional bottlenecks and security challenges. With an unsustainable dependence on oil, she suggests that tourism can be utilized as one of the pillars upon which economic diversification can be anchored. She posits that this can only be realized through the development of tourism destinations, road networks, liberalization and reforms of the country’s visa process, and security.
The promotion of destinations entails the creation of a brand and personal narratives. For the Nigerian case, the country has been bestowed a narrative in the committee of nations by strangers. Unfortunately, these narratives are not factual when placed comparatively with other parts of the world. Countering and possibly trumping these narratives (which have been the window, through which Nigeria has been viewed over the years) would require the displacement of these narratives. Botching this narrative according to Brian n Ebden, a Brand & Strategy Consultant is achievable through placement of facts. Also, it is pertinent to identify a unique selling proposition, placing Nigeria at advantage over other destinations. This he pointed, would attract tourism traffic.
Achieving the enviable position of tourism and investment destination requires the quasi-intervention of the government through the creation of an enabling environment for tourism development and seamless business operation. This, the Akwa Ibom government has recognized, leading to the development and implementation of proactive steps toward transforming the state from a public-service oriented economy to a private sector steered economy.
These efforts have earned her the enviable position of the second largest destination for foreign direct investment in Nigeria, boasting 18 viable industries including the largest syringe producing company in Africa; creating employment for her populace and earning IGR for the state.
Charles Udoh – Commissioner for Information & Strategy, Akwa Ibom State also stated that the state, in order to achieve its tripartite aim of industrialization, tourism and agriculture, has set in place a level-playing field for investors, enhanced security and critical infrastructures. Willing to partner with prospective investors, the state has set in place critical infrastructural projects such as the Ibom Deep seaport, Ibom Air, world class medical facilities, standard hospitality facilities and an efficient road network.Committed to key principles of transparency, integrity and accountability, the government is willing to embrace willing investors with an avalanche of incentives to aid operations.
The digital space is an unlimited space for stimulating interactions. Though unlimited, communications around the world is only a microcosm which never stops, steered through the availability of the digital space. Utilizing the unending opportunities to propel and stimulate conversations, it is germane to know that we are all a personal brand. Personal branding is pertinent, with every thought transmitted to a digital mind frame.
In the words of Robert Alexander – CEO at 360Wise Media, USA; “we are the brand, we are in the jet age right now not Flintstones”. While the government has her responsibilities to the people, “the government has nothing to do about rebranding”. The best way of marketing and branding the African brand/ narrative to stimulate tourism traffic, is for these communication efforts to emanate from where the most travel would be coming from.
While not ruining the fate of Nigeria and other African countries, this ‘unfortunate’ fate can be upturned through seeking and implementation of solutions. Solutions can only be implemented through collaboration rather, than isolating oneself from others. Defining the Diaspora as 99.9% humanity, Sir Joe Madu – President USA-Africa Chamber of Commerce urged everyone to identify and define their value proposition, goal, differential and competitive advantage. Leveraging on these, he mentioned, would bring about capacity-building in socially responsible projects back home including medical, religious and academic tourism.
Though academic degrees are obtained across different levels, there are life skills which are mostly not taught in schools. These critical skill sets: self-awareness, perceptive, active listening, critical thinking, decision-making, effective communication, empathy, situational awareness; as mentioned by Col. Brian Searcy (retired U.S. Airforce colonel), are necessary to facilitate business and tourism.
Today, the society is faced with the challenges of depression, suicide and other mental and business-related issues. Developing these skills not only enhances business, personal wellness and responsibility, but also safety for all.
Besieged with the challenges of attracting tourists to Nigeria, boosting domestic tourism, these are not achievable without finding out why? Ambassador Paolo Ben Salmi, an eleven-year old from the United Kingdom made this exposition to the attendees. Dissecting the reason for the present state, he pointed that “it’s that way because, we’ve lost our why on why people should come here”. Suggesting a solution, he proposed “in order to attract people to Nigeria, we have to find our why, and plant the seed for the future generations”.
From the foregoing, we had an eventful interaction. We hope to see you in our next webinar series. Anticipate the date!