AfDB Diversifying Africa’s Economic Base

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is promoting the creative and cultural industries to diversify the economic base of African countries and attract tourism, Mr Emeka Anuforo, its Communications Officer has said.

Anuforo in a statement recently said the bank marked 2017 World Tourism Day on Sept. 27, with a call for collaborative actions from all stakeholders for sustainable tourism development in Africa.

He said that the Bank recognised that Africa’s tourism and travel industry could serve as an engine of progress for socioeconomic transformation.

The United Nations’ World Tourism Day, with the theme ‘Sustainable Tourism − a Tool for Development’, presents a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the contribution of sustainable tourism among public and private sector decision-makers and the international community.

“In addition to its investments in tourism infrastructure (ports, airports, roads and rail, among others), the AfDB is promoting the creative and cultural industries to diversify the economic base of African countries and attract tourism.

“The Bank has, through various initiatives, given tourism development a new focus.

“Through its Fashionomics Africa initiative, the AfDB is supporting the development of creative industries that utilise local products, especially cotton, in Africa,’’ he said.

He said that bank’s Food Cuisine Africa platform connected key players and newcomers in the food industry in Africa.

Anuforo stated that Omoyemi Akerele, founder of Lagos Fashion and Design Week, stressed how the fashion industry fuelled sustainable tourism.

“Fashion weeks -fashion industry events- generate considerable foot traffic for cities like Lagos, which hosts the annual Lagos Fashion and Design Week.

“But there needs to be a deliberate attempt on the part of African governments to tap into the potential that fashion has to grow the tourism industry,” the statement quoted Akerele said.

The communication officer said that Jean-Guy Afrika, AfDB’s Principal Policy Expert reflected on the bank’s Visa Openness Index measures– how open African countries fared in terms of visas by looking at questions posed to citizens when they travelled.

“Visa openness blends with AfDB’s ‘Integrate Africa’ agenda, which seeks to make Africa more open, prosperous and interconnected.

“After adopting a visa-on-arrival policy, Rwanda witnessed a 22 per cent annual increase in the number of tourism arrivals for meetings, conferences and events. Many visitors in turn have become investors in the country.

“Of course, visa openness is not the solution to all problems, structural aspects such as the size of the market, infrastructure connectivity, and purchasing power is as important. Visa openness is really a quick-win,’’ the statement quoted Afrika.

He said that the AfDB had for many years highlighted infrastructure development as one of its focal priorities to facilitate accessibility and trade across the continent.

According to Anuforo, the bank is also supporting the construction of a new terminal at Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport with a target of five million passengers yearly.