Honourable Priscah MUPFUMIRA, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Chairperson of the African Union Sub-Committee on Tourism;
Honourable Najib BALALA, Minister for Tourism and Wildlife of the Republic of Kenya and Chairperson of the Commission for Africa of the UNWTO;
Honourable Ministers responsible for Tourism of the AU Member States;
Honourable Mr. Zurab POLOLIKASHVILI, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization;
Representatives of Regional Economic Communities and International Organisations;
Ladies and gentlemen;
All protocols observed:
On behalf of the African Union Commission and on my own behalf, I would like to express my profound gratitude to my brother, Hon. Najib balala, our host, and the government and people of the Republic of Kenya for the warm and fraternal welcome they have extended to us on our arrival in this lovely city of Nairobi. We appreciate your generosity in terms of facilities and amenities that have been provided to us for our comfortable stay and successful holding of the First Meeting of the AU Sub-Committee on Tourism.
I am indeed very happy to see my sister, Hon. Priscah MUPFUMIRA, the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Tourism. During the entire period when her country, Zimbabwe was going through the important and historic general election, Hon MUPFUMIRA and her staff still maintained regular communication with us planning for this meeting. Not wanting to lose momentum, she endeavoured to engage our brother, Hon. Najib BALALA to hold the first Sub-Committee meeting in Kenya as the new Government of Zimbabwe was in the process of settling down.
I would also like to thank all of you honourable Ministers and representative of the Regional Economic Communities, specialised agencies and international partners for honouring our invitation with your presence in this meeting. This is a very encouraging and clear signal that we are all committed to pooling our efforts to facilitate the development of the tourism industry in Africa for the benefit of the continent and its people.
Ladies and gentlemen
Tourism is one of the most important sectors in Africa. This is an industry that, more than others, permeates the socio-economic life of the majority of Africans. It links Africans across borders and provides livelihood to all segments of the African Populations. The value of the tourism industry in Africa now stands at over USD 165 billion accounting for 7.8% of the continent's GDP, which exceeds the contribution from manufacturing and the banking sector. The industry accounts for more than 6.2% of total investments valued at USD 28.5 billion and employs over 20 million people hence accounting for 6.5% of the total workforce. According to the 2017 report of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) it is further projected that at 5%, the tourism industry will grow much faster than the forecasted 4.8% economic growth rate for the continent over the next ten years.
Most importantly, tourism contributes significantly to community development and provides many opportunities for women’s self-employment in income-generating activities. Most of the tourism jobs are flexible, able to be carried out at different locations, such as homes, communities and workplaces. Women make up nearly 60% of the tourism workforce in Africa. However, their contribution is largely in the low-status, low-paid, and precarious jobs. Their immense contribution to the industry is yet to be appropriately recognized and rewarded.
It is acknowledged that progress in closing the gender gap would result in significant economic gains for countries. According to the 2017 World Bank report on Women and Tourism, progress in fostering gender equality would double the likely contribution of women to Africa’s GDP by 2025. Therefore, we need to work hard to enable our States to unleash this great potential of women power in the tourism industry.
The African Union Commission has long recognised the crucial importance of Tourism to the achievement of the aspirations of the AU Agenda 2063. In that regard, the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government have decided to work collectively towards making: Africa the Preferred Destination for Tourism in the world as the overall goal of Tourism under the Agenda 2063. To that end, a number of strategic actions have been identified for accelerating achievement of this goal. These include:
harmonization of tourism policies, standards and regulations;
Promotion of cross-border investments and joint marketing of tourism attractions;
Facilitation of free movement of tourists through the introduction of such instruments like visa-on-arrival, uni-visas, e-visas, etc. for simplifying and minimising of travel restrictions in the continent;
Development and promotion of “Brand Africa” for tourism products and assets to cultivate a quality and unique tourism experience of the continent;
Promotion of human resource development, capacity building and quality assurance in the sector;
Facilitation of investment in tourism infrastructure and services especially in the development of adequate and efficient transport, energy and ICT networks; and
Creation of a stable, peaceful and secure environment.
Ladies and gentlemen
The African Union Commission has launched a number of key Agenda 2063 flagship programmes that are expected to accelerate overall economic growth including development of the tourism sector. These include the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) which was launched in January 2018 and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) whose agreement was signed in March 2018 together with the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment. The latter also addresses the process to establish a single African Passport. Furthermore, the ongoing implementation of the Programme for Infrastructure Development Infrastructure in Africa (PIDA) is achieving significant progress in the fields of aviation, railway, road, ICT and energy networks that are aimed at interconnecting and bringing about economic transformation of the continent.
It is obvious that these major and bold initiatives, will facilitate ease of movement and doing business in the Africa which are key factors for boosting development of the entire tourism industry in the continent.
Ladies and gentlemen
This first meeting of the Sub-Committee on Tourism is convened with the specific objectives of, first and foremost, to formally launch the Sub-Committee as decided during the first meeting of the AU Specialized Technical Committee on Transport, Transcontinental and Interregional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism (STC-TTIIET) was held in March 2017 in Lomé, Togo. Secondly, the meeting will consider the outcome of the Lomé STC meeting regarding the tourism sector with focus on the 2017-2019 Tourism Plan of Action. In this regard, we will have to specify the priorities, roles, responsibilities and timelines for each and every activity between the Member States, RECs, AUC, specialised agencies and partner organisations. Also, we are expected to establish a monitoring and evaluation mechanism for the Action Plan.
The meeting will also provide us with an opportunity to review the draft continental tourism strategy whose preparation has already started and share our preliminary views to guide the work at its very onset.
Ladies and gentlemen
On behalf of the African Union Commission, I would like to express my appreciation that we have been getting from our various partners in accomplishing our work in this sector. In particular, I would like to mention the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) who have been with us since the STC meeting in Lomé, Togo and the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) which has provided a solid platform for the African Ministers to deliberate on pertinent issues related to Tourism and the Agenda 2063.
Once again, I feel greatly honoured to be with you in this important meeting and share your invaluable wisdom on the best way of advancing the continent’s tourism agenda. I believe, we will have a very fruitful meeting with the right outcome
Thank you for your kind attention.