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AFRICA


transport presents its own problems. Frank Palapies, chief operating officer, Africa & Middle East, with Wings Travel Management – which has wholly-owned operations in Nigeria and Angola – says: “We have a global yield management team which works in close conjunction with each of our clients to establish their required needs specific to ground transportation and security. “With the support of Wings’ people on the


ground in-country, we are able to establish if the specific supplier is aligned with industry accreditation and requirements, to ensure we work in conjunction with reliable, reputable and international suppliers that have a local footprint.” Felix Attua-Afari, Blue Cube Travel’s


Accra-based director for Ghana, takes another tack. “We would typically source a provider depending on which suppliers the major hotels are using,” he says. “When asked to provide ground transportation, we first approach the provider used by the Movenpick or Marriott hotels, for example. By adopting this approach, we can ensure that providers tend to be trusted suppliers. We feel a good starting point is to source suppliers that have a good track record with the major hotels, but if we are uncertain about the calibre of the provider, then we physically inspect vehicles ourselves to make sure that they are of a suitable standard.” On prospects for business travel to Africa


in general, and West Africa in particular, Attua-Afari says: “There is an ever-increasing volume of business travel into the region, helped over the past few years by the fast- developing oil and gas industry. There is also a burgeoning construction industry, with people investing across borders. “There are Nigerians, for example, who


are investing heavily in Ghana real estate. This has increased the need for travel within the region and this trend will continue over the next few years. Certain developers bring in their own construction crew from all over Europe, which influences the number of people travelling to the region.” He goes on: “European trade is very important to African countries. The emergence of China on the scene has in a way overshadowed the presence of European investors. However, European trade and investment remains a very important part of the FDI [foreign direct investment] portfolio of most countries within the west African region.


BUYINGBUSINESSTRAVEL.COM “If just 12 key African


countries opened their markets and increased connectivity, an extra 155,000 jobs and


US$1.3 billion in annual GDP would be created in those countries”


IATA’s vice-president, Africa, Raphael Kuuchi “This is especially so when it comes to


the construction industry where companies building high-end properties in many cities would rather procure most of their materials from European suppliers and not from China, despite the fact that the products from China are often cheaper. Certain companies bring in building experts from Europe to help ensure that the finished product is of a much higher standard. The movement of these workers also contributes to an increased volume of travel to the region from all over Europe.”


ENERGY SECTOR BOOST Away from the construction sector, Wings’ Palapies says: “Historically, oil and natural minerals have been key components in growth and the slump in the energy sector over the last couple of years has had a knock- on effect. However, oil prices are rising, and are seeing an increase in business travel.” Blue Cube’s Attua-Afari readily admits that not everything is rosy. “One of the


critical factors holding this region back is the issue of corruption. There are a lot of investors worldwide with a keen interest in investing in the region but unable to do so due to the issue of corruption,” he says. “Governments within the region must


make a greater effort at fixing this problem in order to unleash the full potential of their countries. If the corruption issue can be resolved, there is no doubt that there will be increased investment and investor confidence which will speed up the rate of development within the region.” He adds: “In turn, this will increase the


GDP of the African countries and improve the lives of people in general by way of a fairer distribution of wealth, rather than it being concentrated among only a few at the top.” From the corporate travel perspective,


outstanding issues are being resolved, and prospects and potential are enormous. The future’s bright for Africa.


BBT July/August 2018 89


Ethiopian Airlines now serves 58 destinations within Africa


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