Calls for a united Africa at the tourism forum in Botswana

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Africans are yet to understand the full extent of their potential as a united force and embracing the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agenda could just be what the continent needed to make this realisation. That’s according to Susan Akporiaye, President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies.

She was speaking at the Africa Tourism Leadership Forum in Gaborone Botswana where stakeholders in the industry, including government officials, have gathered to devise ways to improve intra-Africa travel and trade.

“I know this continent has so much wealth, so, so much that we don’t have an idea or have a clue of how powerful we are in Africa and if we can just … I don’t know how to call it, maybe bring our pride down … we are too scared of each other. We are so, so scared of each other,” she says.

Cultural stereotypes among Africans, she says, are holding Africans back and maybe something Africans may need to overcome before the AfCFTA agenda is fully embraced.

“The average Nigerian believes a South African doesn’t like them, that they hate them,” she laments.

AfCFTA is an economic integration programme launched by the African Union in 2018 to make improve intra-Africa trade having been ratified by 47 of the 54 African countries. It intends to achieve its goals of increasing intra-African trade and fostering industrial growth by establishing a single market that facilitates the unrestricted movement of people, investment, goods, and services across the African continent.

The African tourism industry is looking to the adoption of this programme to improve tourism on the continent and it has dominated discussions at the 6th tourism forum currently under way in Gaborone.

Among the suggestions put on the table is for Africa to create its own travel culture, which should possibly include getting rid of passports. That’s according to Kenya Tourism Federation CEO Susan Ongalo.

The forum continues.