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Fighting Back: How Will the Hospitality and Tourism Industry Win the War Against COVID-19?



Fighting Back: How Will the Hospitality and Tourism Industry Win the War Against COVID-19?, SiliconNigeria

BY MARK HAVERCROFT , Regional Director Africa for the International hotel group Minor Hotels.

While the opening of international borders by several African countries is extremely positive news for ailing travel and hospital sectors in sub-Saharan Africa – and for economies as a whole, this may not, in and of itself, be sufficient to resuscitate the industry in the wake of the havoc wreaked by the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Not only are many of the international tourists who operators are relying on to return quickly still locked down in their own countries, but even if they’re not, there are still very high levels of insecurity around travellers who aren’t sure whether they’re prepared to get back out there into the world just quite yet. 

Nigeria’s Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika announced recently that the country’s borders will be reopened for international travel purposes as of end of August 2020, joining other African countries that have begun reopening airports, removing curfews and slowly resuming international tourism. These include South Africa, Namibia, the DRC, Egypt, Kenya, Zambia, Rwanda, Liberia, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone and Sao Tome.

The industry as a whole faces a continuing uphill battle; earlier this month the United States government warned its citizens against international travel due to the risks associated with the potential spread of the virus. A recent study by the World Economic Forum also suggested that business travel is far more likely to survive the pandemic than international leisure travel, which it predicted will rebound only much later owing to the uncertainties related to health and safety concerns. In short, the industry can expect to rely heavily on domestic leisure travel markets for the immediate future.

The important question now is how to optimally leverage the domestic leisure and business travel markets, while continuing to encourage the international market to confidently travel to Africa. This requires a dual approach from the industry that relies on offering the essential assurances around health and safety for all travellers, while also creating reasonably priced, market-related packages that prove too alluring for the domestic market to ignore. 

So how can this be achieved? 

Firstly, it is important for the industry to collaborate with governments in the region to facilitate a marketing strategy that will ensure the worldwide dissemination of information about how African countries are managing to control the pandemic, including statistical proof in order to build confidence.

The 2019 hospitality report by Jumia identifies the tourism and hospitality sector as one of the key growth drivers of the regional economy, contributing 8.5% (or $194.2billion) to the GDP in 2018, and placing the continent as the second-fastest growing tourism region in the world –  with an annual growth rate of 5.6%. Leisure remains an important component of the tourism industry, comprising 71% of all tourism-related expenditure in the region, with business travel accounting for the other 29%. 

The African Union has said that the region lost $55bn in travel and tourism revenue in the first three months of the region-wide lockdowns, with devastating knock-on effects considering the industry contributes significantly to the regional economy. This points to the urgency of reopening borders and reactivating the sector if we are to save ailing economies across the region. We know it will take time for the industry to get back into full swing, so we need to innovate in every way  possible in the meantime in order to shorten that lead-in time.

For example, the hospitality industry has for many years prided itself on the safety and hygiene measures it applies to keep guests safe and comfortable. The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath will demand so much more, and establishments will have to go above and beyond in demonstrating – and applying – both existing and more stringent safety measures. 

For the industry, our value propositions can no longer be focused only on getaways, experiences and cuisine (whether it be luxury and otherwise). That will continue to be a focus, of course, but along with  how associated air travel is managed in the safest possible way. Safety-first is top priority.

According to research by McKinsey, it will take at least three years for the industry to reach full recovery. In the meantime, to maximise on the reduced number of tourists, the industry will need to create completely new options too, including those specifically designed to encourage longer hotel stays by both the international and domestic travel markets. 

This is not the time to continue doing things like they’ve always been done. Innovate and adapt must be our watchword within our “new normal” if we are to not only reignite the industry, but see it grow from strength to strength in line with the pre COVID-19 forecasting.

Havercroft is the Regional Director for Africa of international hotel group Minor Hotels. 

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Plentywaka Expands Bus e-Hailing With Innoson Motors Deal



Plentywaka ExpandsBus e-Hailing With Innoson Motors Deal, SiliconNigeria

Expands to Southeast, South-south states

PHOTO: Johnny Enagwolor (President & Co-Founder at Plentywaka) Dr Innocent Chukwuma (Founder & CEO at IVM), Onyeka Akumah (CEO & Co-Founder at Plentywaka) (1)

Plentywaka, the first bus-hailing app in Nigeria, has announced the latest move of its ambitious plan to revolutionize Nigerian travel with the new, home-grown partnership with Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM).

As part of a first-of-its-kind collaboration for both companies, IVM, Nigeria’s first indigenous automotive manufacturer, is set to bolster Plentywaka’s fleet with a host of new vehicles as the leading bus-hailing startup prepares to break into South-eastern Nigeria starting with Delta state in Q4 2020. 

After celebrating its first year in operation with +200,000 completed trips and 40,000+ app downloads, Plentywaka’s rapid progress is showing no signs of slowing down.

The startup announced its expansion to Abuja in August 2020 and in IVM, Plentywaka is teaming up alongside a well-recognized and established brand to transform bus travel across Nigeria through technology. 

Currently, commuters in the region still face the age-old problems of a lack of safety, comfort, and convenience which has plagued Nigeria’s bus network for decades. However, Plentywaka is set to make a major bid to replicate the success of its tech-driven service in Lagos and Abuja to upgrade the state of bus travel in both states. 

Speaking on the partnership, Onyeka Akumah, Co-Founder & CEO at Plentywaka stated: “This is a major step towards developing a robust and reliable transport system built by Nigerians for Nigerians. We are two brands that have lived through an outdated transport system in Nigeria and we’re joining forces to bring our country into an era that is long overdue and driven by technology.”

“We know what our people want and we know what they deserve – a safer, more comfortable and efficient means of transport and as the traction in our first year shows, we have the technology to make this a reality. With IVM on board, we’re breaking into new territory so riders in the South-eastern states are not left behind.”

Through the Plentywaka app, the company has simplified movement for commuters from point A to B with a two-step process to schedule a journey and book a seat as well as the option to pay for rides using the wakapurse e-wallet. With the new partnership in effect, Plentywaka is set to expand its range of options for riders as it pushes to capitalize on the surging demand for its service.

Dr. Innocent Chukwuma, CEO and Founder at IVM added: “We’ve been closely monitoring Plentywaka’s progress since its launch in September 2019 and their growth has been very impressive in such a short space of time. From our conversations with their founding team, we saw a company that was hungry and unprepared to rest on their laurels, which is why we were keen to support them in the next phase of their expansion.”

“Today marks a partnership between two industry leaders and our ambition is for this to develop a firm foundation for Nigeria to become a leader in bus travel across Africa. With our manufacturing expertise and Plentywaka’s strengths in tech and customer service, we are very confident we can achieve this and look forward to a long and successful relationship.”

Founded in 2007 by Innocent Chukwuma, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM)  is part of the Innoson Group and is the first “Made In Africa” automobile brand. With IVM’s manufacturing plant based in Anambra State, Nigeria, the partnership with Plentywaka is the first of its kind for the company as it makes its first entry into the e-hailing space.

The Plentywaka app is available for download on both Google Play and iOSJiji achieves 22,000 app installs a day and t

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Sterling Bank To Sponsor Aké Festival As It Goes Digital



Sterling Bank To Sponsor Aké Festival As It Goes Digital, SiliconNigeria

Sterling Bank has emerged the Headline Sponsor of Africa’s leading arts and book event, Aké Arts and Book Festival holding on Thursday 22 – Sunday 25 October, 2020.

Due to the global coronavirus crisis, Aké Festivalwill go digital for 2020. This online edition of the festival will be free to access by audiences all over the world, creating an important platform for the intellectually and culturally curious to take part in this celebration of black excellence, resilience and resistance.

The event in its eight year is returning with an amazing free programme of 65 inspiring book chats, workshops, panel discussions and performances from the most exciting voices across Africa and the African Diaspora. 

The theme for 2020 is ‘African Time’, in recognition of the global anti-racism movement that has gathered momentum and visibility in recent months. Audiences across the world are invited to join luminaries from contemporary fiction, non-fiction, poetry, film, theatre, music and visual arts in discussions about some of the most critical issues of our time, including race, gender, identity, equality and mental health, technology, religion and empathy.

Sterling Bank is the headline sponsor of the world’s largest collection of African creative voices on African soil for the third consecutive year. Aké Festivalhosts some of the most sought-after, innovative voices in black thought.

According to the chief executive officer, Sterling Bank, Abubakar Suleiman, “Sterling continues to support Aké Arts and Book Festival because we see the creative industry’s potential to generate local and foreign earnings. Over the last four years, we have seen the magic that happens when young Africans come into contact with their literary heroes.

“Nigerians have won just about every literary prize, but it’s important to support the next generation of creatives. We want them to be inspired, and we consider it a privilege to be able to bring people closer to achieving their creative dreams.”

Lola Shoneyin, director and founder, Aké Arts and Book Festival, said:Our world has changed forever; the magnitude of recent world events cannot be ignored. In 1918, African nations were in the clutches of imperial forces that degraded our stories, culture, history, language and belief systems.

“More than a century later, the COVID-19 pandemic finds Africa struggling with the colonial hangover of poor leadership and a predatory global order. Now is the time for Africa to recalibrate and break the cycle of betrayal by those elected to lead. It may have come later than hoped for, but, for the children of Africa everywhere, this is African Time.”

Over the course of the festival, attendees will be able to participate in 26 stimulating panel discussions, 24 author talks, storytelling sessions, three workshops, a concert, two exhibitions, poetry performances, films and a stage play.

Guests include Wole Soyinka, Maryse Conde, Tayari Jones, Esi Edugyan, Marlon James, Petina Gappah, Kehinde Andrews, Elias Wondimu, Zukiswa Wanner, Molara Wood, Bolu Babalola, Okechukwu Nzelu and many, many more. Discussions will cover a wide range of issues including intersectional feminism, blacktivism and colourism to the burgeoning post-COVID mental health crisis and decolonisation of black spaces.

 Panel discussion highlights include: Black Women Harnessing Anger for Social Change; Publishing While African; Decolonising Feminism in Africa; and Why African Needs Feminist Giants, The Place of Faith in a Health Crisis and many more. All you need to do is register at

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