Ratings agency S&P Global’s South Africa analyst said on Thursday there was no immediate pressure to change the country’s sovereign rating, despite weak economic growth and a growing debt burden.
Gardner Rusike told a ratings conference in Johannesburg that the rating was unlikely to change soon
S&P Global’s long-term foreign-currency rating for South Africa’s debt is ‘BB’. “We don’t believe that there is immediate pressure to change the ratings in the near term,” Rusike said.
He added that S&P Global saw South Africa’s economic growth rate this year at below one per cent and would look for measures to contain fiscal slippage in the finance ministry’s medium-term budget statement on Oct. 30.
Rusike said a recent government bailout to state power firm Eskom would put pressure on the budget deficit but that as a once-off event it did not pose a danger to the country’s sovereign rating.
South Africa’s economy is ranked at sub-investment grade by S&P and Fitch, two of the three main ratings firms, with recent downgrades linked mainly to the weak economy, bailouts for state firms and concerns about governance and corruption. (Reuters/NAN)
Editing by Joe Idika/Felix Ajide
Barbados tourism expert advises African operators on innovation
Jamie-Lee Abtar, Executive Director, Black Asian and Minority Ethnic Women in Travels from Barbados, on Tuesday urged innovativeness among African tourism practitioners to enhance speedy recovery from COVID-19 pandemic losses.
Abtar gave the advice during the youth tourism conference session of the 16th AKWAABA Africa Travel and Tourism Market, organised by Mr Ikechi Uko, with the theme: “The Role of the Youth in Restoring Tourism Growth in Africa”.
She said that being innovative distinguished a leader from a follower, urging tourism practitioners across Africa to turn their visions into products and services.
According to her, innovators understand that innovation never happen in a vacuum.
“To be able to recover from the losses of COVID-19 pandemic, we must be inspired to be innovators, leaders, collaborators, digital disruptor and be distinctly different.
“The characteristic of a great innovator is that they see a space others do not and they invent something new, they don’t just listen to what people say but they take initiative.
“These are virtues we must imbibe to scale through this critical period; as tourism practitioners, always be prepared for change and be active in making the change happen.
“To be distinctly different can be challenging but essential for your business to thrive,” she said.
Mel Tlhapi, Managing Director, Mel Prods South Africa, advised African governments to allow youths participate in tourism policy creation to generate experienced and unique ideas.
Tlhapi urged the youths involved in tourism business to always upgrade themselves academically to stay relevant in the industry, advising them to stay fearless regardless of the negative effect of COVID-19 pandemic on the industry.
She urged practitioners to solely embrace an aspect of the tourism value chain and remain vibrant in it instead of embracing so many chains without being professionals.
“I advise the youths to create niches for themselves in the industry, be fearless and embrace just an aspect of the tourism value chain, be well grounded in it and do not be a jack of all trade,” she said.
Chiamaka Obuekwe, Managing Director, Social Prefect Tours, spoke on the importance of collaborations to promote intra Africa travels.
Obuekwe said that personal rebranding, reputable business arena and mentorship were very essential to restoring tourism growth in Africa, urging tourism practitioners across Africa to take them seriously.
She said that Africans must consciously rewrite their stories to correct the negative perception of the international communities, going by the challenges of insecurity, poor infrastructure and other social vices projected to the world.
According to her, the negative perception could only be corrected by beginning to tell beautiful stories of Africa and rebranding the continent.
” The youths have a lot to do in tourism development across Africa but African governments must create the needed infrastructure to woo investors and tourists.
“I advise that we in Nigeria create a tourism package to showcase our tourism potential, just like we have events like Magical Kenya, Remarkable Rwanda and Incredible Ghana.
“I suggest we have a tourist festival like “Great Nigeria” or “One Nigeria” to showcase our rich cultural and tourism endowments which will be an annual event,” she said.
Carmen Imbili, Chief Executive Officer, Xceptional Tourism Services from Namibia, said huge confidence must be displayed by operators to forge ahead, be innovative in order to achieve post COVID-19 recovery in the tourism industry
Imbili urged practitioners to explore the power of technology and invest hugely in it as a way of life.
She called for collaborations across tourism practitioners in Africa for speedy recovery of the industry.
Edited By: Dorcas Jonah/Wale Ojetimi
Ramaphosa urges UN to take decisive action against racism
South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has urged the United Nations to spare no effort at ending racism and other forms of prejudice.
Ramaphosa, who is the Chairman of the African Union, made the call in his pre-recorded video statement to the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.
It is the UNGA General Debate since the death of African American, George Floyd, in police custody on May 25 sparked protests in the United States and around the world.
“The year 2020 will be remembered for the massive groundswell to push back the frontiers of racism under the umbrella of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
“As a country that has known too well the anguish of institutionalised racism, South Africa supports the demands for swift action against racism, whether committed by individuals, companies, officials or the state.
“South Africa calls on the United Nations to spare no effort to end prejudice and intolerance in all its forms and wherever it may be found.
“In the words of Dr Martin Luther King Jnr: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’” he told the virtual world gathering.
Ramaphosa also expressed the commitment of his country and the AU to the pursuit of global peace and security.
“As African countries we will continue with our effort to ‘silence the guns’ once and for all through conflict resolution and peace-building.
“Cooperation between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council has contributed to improved peace and security in the Darfur region of Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Mali and the Central African Republic.
“It is imperative that this collaboration is institutionalised and that the financing of AU peacekeeping operations is addressed and resolved.
“South Africa is currently serving its second year as an elected non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
“We have used our tenure to promote international peace and security by advocating for the peaceful settlement of disputes and inclusive dialogue,” he added.
Edited By: Felix Ajide
At UNGA, AU chairman solicits ‘comprehensive stimulus package’ for Africa
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa on Tuesday solicited a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa to enable its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ramaphosa made the appeal in his pre-recorded video statement to the virtual General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the African Union (AU), he also called for suspension of interest payments on Africa’s external and public debts.
The South African president said although the continent had responded “swiftly and effectively” to the pandemic, it would “inevitably set back our developmental aspirations”.
He said: “The resources we have had to redirect to fighting the pandemic has set back our efforts to provide housing, health care, water and sanitation and education to our people.
“When the Secretary-General António Guterres delivered the 18th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in July, 2020, he called on the nations of the world to forge a New Social Contract and a New Global Deal.
“He said we must create equal opportunities for all, that we must advance a more inclusive and balanced multilateral trading system, that debt architecture must be reformed, and that there should be greater access to affordable credit for developing countries.
“It is in the spirit of this New Global Deal, that we call on the international community and our international partners to support the rollout of a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa.
“This will enable African countries to not only mitigate the health impacts of COVID-19 but to aid us in the immense task of rebuilding our shattered economies.”
He, however, acknowledged joint efforts by the G20, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the UN to address debt sustainability in developing countries.
He noted that pandemic had underscored the urgency with which the world strive to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ramaphosa reiterated the AU’s call for the lifting of economic sanctions against Zimbabwe and Sudan to enable their governments to adequately respond to the pandemic.
According to him, relieving both countries of sanctions will also ensure no one is left behind as the world races against time to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
Zeroing in on SDG 1, poverty education, the AU chairman noted that the purpose of the UN would remain a mirage until global poverty was eradicated.
He called for expansion of economic opportunities to all our people, especially young people, women and the vulnerable.
Ramaphosa further urged decisive action to rid the continent of corruption, which he said is “robbing our people of the opportunities and services that are their right”.
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi
African tourism leaders recommend MICE for sectoral recovery
These tourism leaders cutting across countries such as: South Africa, Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana and Kenya, gave the advice at the 16th AKWAABA Africa Travel and Tourism Market’s conference held online.
The roundtable was organised by Mr Ikechi Uko, with the theme: “Is MICE a Viable Pathway for Tourism Recovery in Africa?’’
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions is a type of tourism in which large groups usually plan well in advance and are brought together.
Rick Taylor, Chief Executive Officer, Business Tourism Company, said that MICE in Africa was pretty new but started in the United States since 1714.
Taylor said that enormous opportunities would be available if MICE was properly developed in Africa.
“We need to work on returning to embrace our meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions because it was observed that an hour of physical meeting is only as effective as 5 zoom meetings, 10 phone calls and 20 emails.
“Some 14 new ideas were likely to be generated during physical meetings but only 7 ideas would be gotten from online meetings,’’ he said.
Also, Mr Alain St.Ange, former Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture, said that the MICE market was an important one in the tourism industry, adding that there was need to discover more Africans who would be dedicated to work in grooming tourism.
He advised Africans to work together to achieve common goals of revamping the tourism industry and create global competitiveness.
“Tourism is the pillar of the Seychelles economy and with a population of 100,000 people, we are able to sustain the country through the returns on tourism.
“MICE is an important market in tourism, it needs to be developed rightly,’’ he said.
Nelly Mukazayire, Chief Executive Officer, Rwanda Convention Bureau, also attested to the fact that MICE was one of the innovative ways for revenue creation which Africans must leverage upon.
According to her, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous events were postponed and the country recorded losses to the tune of $8m.
“Rwanda is open to MICE, domestic tourism and travels now, the government has set up platforms to ensure tourists’ safety, who either come for leisure or business opportunities.
“The Rwandan government has established economic recovery funds, created home grown events that align with our investment priorities; Rwanda is a unique destination for events and MICE is guaranteed,’’ she said.
Jacinta Nzioka, National Coordinator, Kenya National Convention Bureau, said that the business of MICE had sustained the country as a tourist destination, adding that the Kenyan government was working with the private sector to further grow MICE.
Nzioka said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 97 tourism events were cancelled and over 42,000 jobs were lost.
She said when International travels began, 16 per cent arrivals were recorded to be on purpose of business, which she described as encouraging.
“Currently, we have stimulus packages for the hospitality sector, and recovery funds to restart the industry all put together by the Kenyan government; we see a bright future for MICE in Kenya,’’ she said.
Nzioka advised Africans to work unanimously to complement one another’s efforts in the development of MICE and not for competitive purposes.
Mr Bradford Ochieng, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Uganda Tourism Board, said that the board had prioritised the promotion and development of business tourism to diversify the country’s tourism offerings and encompass more than leisure.
Ochieng said this was expected to increase the number of tourist arrivals, receipt and earnings from business travellers.
He said currently, the board was trying to partner with the private sector to develop affordable travel packages to revamp the industry.
“The MICE industry is an emerging one in the Ugandan economy, the Ugandan tourism board will continue to prioritise both leisure and business travels.
“We want to tell everyone that we are ready for MICE and planning to invest more in hotels, convention centres and all,’’ he said.
Edited By: Idonije Obakhedo