Africa: Window on the Future: Prospects, Alliances, Partners

By Louis D'Amore Founder & President, International Institute of Peace through Tourism | October 28, 2008

Scientists believe that human life first began on the African continent some 5-6 million years ago. Recent DNA research traces modern man to the "Original Eve" some 150,000 years ago in the Rift Valley of Africa. From these early beginnings - world population has grown to some 6.5 billion persons of which 900 million reside in the 53 countries of Africa.

While Africa is the "Cradle of Civilization" it lags behind all other regions of the world as we enter the 3rd Millennium. Half the population lives on less than US$1 per day, school enrollment is declining, and the average life-span is becoming shorter. While Africa accounts for 14 % of the world's population, its exports account for less than 1.6% and investment in Africa is less than 1% of global investment. Further, total net "Official Development Assistance" to Africa has fallen from previous levels of $17 billion to US$12 billion a year.

This scenario is changing however. In July 2001, the 37th Summit of the OAU formally adopted a strategic framework for Africa's renewal called NEPAD - "New Partnership for African Development." NEPAD is first and foremost a pledge by African leaders to the people of Africa to consolidate democracy, sound economic management, peace and security, and people-centered sustainable development.

Its primary goals are to eradicate poverty; place African countries on a path of sustainable growth and development; enhance its full and beneficial integration into the global economy; and accelerate the empowerment of women.

African leaders personally directed its creation and formally hold one another accountable for its achievement. NEPAD is based on principles of good governance, participation by all sectors of society, acceleration of regional and continental integration, and forging new international partnerships linked to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.