Inside Business Africa INSIDE BUSINESS AFRICA APRIL 2019 - Page 21

Business and Economy Tourism potential. A lack of transport links is the first major barrier. Across the region, major cities lack efficient connections, limiting regional mobility for residents and international travel. Air transport is severely limited among countries in the region, with poor flight connections turning simple trips into circuitous journeys. Sierra Leone's capital Freetown is just an hour from Banjui, the capital of The Gambia, but only two direct flights a week serve the route. In addition, connectivity has been made more difficult by regulatory hurdles - such as restrictive policies that limit air traffic rights - and the closure of regional national carriers, including Nigeria Airways and Ghana Airways. Insecurity and political crises have also combined to frustrate tourism's potential in West Africa. Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria are grappling with Islamist and rebel insurgencies, prompting negative international headlines and travel warnings from wealthy nations. Terrorist attacks in Mali saw the number of arrivals from Europe fall from 71,000 in 2014 to 36,000 in 2015. In The Gambia, a popular destination for beach-going Europeans where tourism accounts for around 20% of GDP, hotel occupancy plummeted during a 2017 power struggle emanating from then-leader Yahya Jammeh's rejection of election results. The ebola virus buffeted the tourism industry, especially in West Africa. A report by the London- headquartered World Travel and Tourism Council found that tourist arrivals in Sierra Leone dropped by 50% from 2013 to 2014. The report estimated a loss of 0.9% of GDP in Guinea and 1.6% in Sierra Leone from the ebola outbreak as tourists avoided the region. Ambitious plans Despite these challenges, West African nations still have a chance to grab a larger share of international tourism receipts. Some countries are already putting in place ambitious plans to boost the sector. Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and Ghana have all taken to tourism to rejuvenate their economies, each creating long- term plans to consolidate or revive the industry. In Senegal, tourism is one of the strategic sectors in the Emerging Senegal Plan (ESP), launched in 2013 to position the country as an emerging economy by 2035. 32 u t APRIL1 4 - 28, 2019 By 2015, Senegalese authorities had made reforms to the tourism sector, including creating a new national tourism agency and removing visa fees. In 2017, the country had 1.36m visitors compared to 962,000 in 2012, and it is hoping to increase this figure to 3m visitors in the next four years. Ghana's 15-year strategy hopes to increase the number of arrivals from 1m to 8m annually by 2027 by marketing Ghana as a tourist destination, improving data- gathering systems, expanding tourism infrastructure and internal flights, improving highways, electricity and water supplies and opening up to visitors from new markets. Enabling increased private investment in the sector is crucial to improving infrastructure and marketing destinations to an international audience. Some government incentives are helping to attract developers. In The Gambia, the government offers investors free land if developers build hotels in designed areas, and gives investors a 10-year tax holiday if they invest above a $250,000 threshold. But biddings for prime tourist land for hotel and leisure developments are too often uncompetitive and opaque, driving away leading international hotel groups. Governments must also boost marketing spend and introduce visa reforms to encourage tourists. The World Tourism Organisation predicts that the number of arrivals in Africa will more than double to 134m by 2030, but if West African nations are to grab their share, policymakers and industry representatives need to turn their plans into reality through concerted reforms. More investment coming in The Nigerian economy has recorded about $5 billion foreign investment inflows post-general elections in February/March 2019. T he Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emediele, disclosed this Friday night, in Washington DC, USA. He said that the development was a demonstration of foreign investors' confidence in the Nigerian economy, adding that the monetary policy outlook and the efforts on reduction of import bill would remain part of the CBN policy stance going forward. Capital Market: MTN listing, NNPC privatisation will spur more participation of investors - Usman The CBN Governor added that the apex bank was committed to ensuring the Nigerian financial system was not only sound, but able to support the real sector in boosting Nigeria's growth and development, while continuing to attract foreign investors. He stated: "Although monumental feats have been achieved by the CBN in various aspects of development finance, foreign exchange management, financial inclusion and payments system in the past five years, challenges remain." Emefiele revealed that Nigeria's foreign reserve has stabilised at USD45 billion from the low point of USD23 billion in 2016, stressing that the CBN's foreign exchange policy, particularly the Investors' and Exporters (I&E) Window established in 2017, was delivering desired results. He stated: "Since its establishment, the CBN has recorded about $35 billion in autonomous forex inflows through this Window alone. As a result, exchange rate pressures eased considerably across all markets as the rates converged to about N360/$ and the distortive premium almost eliminated. "At the Bureau De Change segment, there has been a significant appreciation of the Naira from over N525 per dollar in February 2017 to about N360 per dollar today. Rates at the I & E Window also appreciated from nearly N382 per dollar in May 2017 to just over N360 per dollar. In addition, exchange rate pressures normally witnessed during the general election cycles." According to him, the outcomes of the recent CBN forex policy has led to stable Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor exchange rate, forex liquidity, vibrancy in the capital market, improved supply of forex impact on Purchasing Manager's Index, and the improved forex supply expected to impact positively on Gross Domestic Product, GDP, growth and more companies declaring profit and offering rights issues. Stressing further on the impact of the policy, Emefiele noted that there has been a boost in local production of the goods on the list of the 41items banned from official forex market, adding that the policy has created domestic demand for the items concerned, employment generation, substantial forex owing to the reduction in the import bills of the country and improved domestic capacity. He disclosed that the CBN intervention in the area of agriculture, manufacturing, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and infrastructure has yielded multiplier effect on the economy. Commenting on its Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) initiative, he said: "This scheme stands out as one of the major achievements of the Bank in its intervention effort. The goal of the programme is to collaborate with anchor companies involved in the production and processing of key ag ricultural commodities. Under the ABP, anchor firms serve as off-takers with out-growers involved in production. As at December 2018, a total sum of N174.48 billion had been disbursed through 19 participating Financial Institutions (FPIs) to finance t 21 u APRIL1 4 - 28, 2019 902,518 farmers, working with 194 anchor companies. During the priod, 2807,775 and 8,423,325 direct and indirect jobs respectively had been created under ABP." Highlighting the remarkable achievement of the Bank in the area of financial inclusion, he said: "Financial inclusion is achieved when 80 percent of adult Nigerians have easy access to a broad range of formal financial serves that meet their needs at an affordable cost. The results of the 2018 edition of the biennial Access to Financial Services Nigeria Survey conducted by the Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA) revealed increase in the percentage of adult Nigerians that were included in financial services from 58.4 percent in 2016 to 63.2 percent in 2018(4.8 percentage points), The percentage of banked adult Nigerians increased from 38.3 percent in 2016 to 39.7 percent within the same period." On the payment system, Emefiele declared: "Since 2017, the CBN has focused its attention on the development of payments system, with a view to mig rating from cash -dominated environment to an electronic payments market. Many milestones have been achieved since that time. The level of development attained in the national payments system through the implementation of the PSV 2020, has necessitated the shift of focus to managing the risks in the payment system." The CBN Governor stated that the Bank also recorded major achievement in the last five years in the area of National Collateral Registry (NCR), which was put in place in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation, IFC. " As at December 2018, 456 financial institutions , comprising 411 micro finance banks , 34 finance companies and 11 non bank financial institutions were registered on the NCR portal. This brought the cumulative number of financial institutions registered to 628, comprising 21 commercial banks, 551 micro finance banks, four merchant banks, four development finance institutions. The naira value of financing statement in 2018 was 47.4 percent higher than the corresponding value N487.3 billion in 2017. Similarly, the value of the US dollar registered was significantly higher than the corresponding value of US$20 million in 2017.”