The World Bank projects that Africa’s economic growth will decline from 2.4 percent in 2019 to between -2.1 percent and -5.1 percent in 2020. This is expected to be the first recession in 25 years.
The decline could largely be attributed to Africa’s export of commodities whose prices have crushed on the world market. Africa’s exports to other continents stand at a whopping 80 percent while trade among itself is just a little above 16 percent.
The setting up of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will facilitate trade further and create opportunities among Africans especially since this will be the largest in the world.
While looking at the trade figures, the continent’s international tourism receipts totaled 36.2 billion USD in 2016, comprising only 3% of global tourism receipts. Based on these statistics the African Union hopes to use tourism as one of the major drivers for intra-African Trade.
Looking at these issues amidst COVID-19, the Chamber for Tourism Industry Ghana (CTI Ghana) – with support from the Africa Open Data Internet and Research Foundation (AODIRF) – will lead a digital conversation on how African economies could take advantage of the current crisis through online platforms to boost tourism and trade. The virtual one-day event is dubbed the Africa Digitization Conference On Tourism & Trade (ADCOTT), coming up on Tuesday, August 25, 2020.
The African Union will lead the discussion in the Opening Plenary session with Beatrice Chaytor, Senior Expert – Trade in services, looking at issues such as how digitized trade and tourism can offer a solution to reduce the cost of air travel in Africa. The international trade lawyer will also answer questions on strategies the African Union is adopting to solve the rigid visa requirements slowing down the movement of goods and people on the continent. Indeed, what role can digitization play in offering a healthy balance between relaxed visa policies and keeping corruption in check?
Fergus Maclaren from the Economic Innovation Institute for Africa, who possesses a wealth of experience in International Tourism, will look at Africa’s technological state and how the continent can leapfrog despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Simon Alangde from Google will focus on Technology Tourism and Cybersecurity.
The workshop session will see entrepreneur Esther Ama Asante, whose award-winning company Organic Trade & Investments currently integrates 12,000 farmers and 300 small scale manufacturers across Africa, offer further solutions on how tourism can contribute to economic transformation in Ghana. Experienced photographer Yaw Pare will reveal how local businesses can be engaged to boost domestic tourism virtually, and FTSE 100 Index companies consultant Joanna Diana Steele will lecture attraction site owners on how to tap into technology to increase physical or online traffic to their sites.
An important issue impacting African tourism and trade is the acceleration of technology innovations on the continent. The International Trade Center's SheTrades Commonwealth Associate Programme Officer, Caroline Kemunto, will analyze whether the IT sector is up to speed to assist the economic potential from the tourism and trade sectors.
Meanwhile, the President of the World Tourism Forum Institute, Bulut Bogci with vast experience when it comes to standards and education in the tourism sector, will table ideas on how Africa can restart on a better footing after this Coronavirus pandemic.
The Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Dr Ziblim Barri Iddi, French Ambassador Hon. Anne-Sophie Avé whose country France leads the world in the tourism industry, and Saul Molobi, former South African Consulate-General to Italy and Chairman at Brandhill Africa, will complete ADCOTT’s roster of keynote speakers.
The African Tourism Board will be showcasing their support for the Chamber for Tourism Industry Ghana with Chairman Cuthbert Ncube from South Africa and Ambassador Abigail Adesina Olagbaye from Nigeria expected to deliver solidarity messages alongside TOUGHA president and GHATOF Vice President, Kwesi Eyison.
CTI Ghana CEO Prince Boampong was underlining the importance and influence of ADCOTT’s maiden edition when he noted:
“Tourism always has an element of trade embedded in it. There can never be a tourism sector that will not be intertwined with trade because when people visit countries, they buy things and have a direct influence on how trade activities go in every country where tourists come in numbers.
“The event that we are having this year is a unique one; the reason being that 2020 has been a very defining moment and our people should transition from doing everyday physical activities to employing technology in everything they do. That is why a conference like the Africa Digitization Conference On Tourism and Trade is a crucial one which everybody should participate in.”
The 4-hour webinar, slated for Tuesday 25th August on Google Meet, will feature an exclusive performance from Ghana’s internationally-acclaimed artiste, Wiyaala.