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15th AKWAABA: Nigerian wins Jolof Rice Contest




15th AKWAABA: Nigerian wins Jolof Rice Contest

Nigerian Chef, Folashade Shoyonbo, on Sunday in Lagos emerged winner of a Jolof Rice Contest after beating chefs from two other West African countries.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that Shoyonbo beat several others from Nigeria, Togo and Benin Republic during the contest at the 15th AKWAABA African Travel and Tourism Market  which opened on Sunday in Lagos.

reports that the Jollof Rice Contest, which was organised to promote culinary tourism in Africa, saw two other Nigerians, Deborah Esene  Fatima Lawal, clinching second and third positions, respectively.

Shoyonbo said she was surprised over her victory and never envisaged winning the contest as she left immediately she presented her cuisine to the judges only to be called back.

She advised other chefs to stay tenacious and dedicated to their work, saying that success awaits those who persevered.

She thanked the organisers for encouraging African chefs and for giving her the platform to showcase her cooking talent.

“Am so happy right now; I never saw it coming, in fact it is a surprise for me and I could not hold my tears when I was told I emerged the winner.

“I appreciate the organisers of this fair and everyone who had encouraged me since I embraced this profession and I will advise everyone to remain dedicated and focused on their chosen career.

“I was determined to be successful in this profession and here I am today,” she said.

Shoyonbo, a graduate of Accounting who also had Diploma in Catering, is a chef with Lagos Continental Hotel.

“I am a graduate of Accounting but was not fulfilled until I embraced this profession; there is huge gain in doing what you love,” she said.

reports that Shoyonbo won the trophy and a fridge while her first and second runners up went home with generator and a set of dishes, respectively.


Edited by Wale Ojetimi


AKWAABA organiser excited over acceptance of Nigerian Jollof-rice



Mr Ikechi Uko, organiser, AKWAABA African Travel and Tourism Market

Mr Ikechi Uko, Organiser, AKWAABA African Travel and Tourism Market, on Monday expressed excitement over the level of acceptance of Nigerian Jollof-rice globally, as he marketed the cuisine over years.


Uko told the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos that the hosting of jollof-rice contest during the yearly travel market was to establish a West African tourism product.


He said that unlike East Africa with rich wildlife, West Africa had no common tourism product.


According to him, a niche needs to be carved for West Africa with the jollof-rice contest, as a way of ensuring that the region has a common tourism product.


He recalled that popular US rapper, Cardi B, who visited the country in December, expressed her love for Nigerian Jollof-rice.


“The jollof-rice contest, since it started in 2017, has been fruitful to Nigeria as many international tourists’ attention have been drawn to Nigerian cuisines.


“The popular US rapper, Cardi B, who visited the country in December and expressed her thirst for Nigerian jollof-rice, is a successful report of the Nigerian cuisines gaining recognition globally.


“For an international celebrity to have come out openly to declare her craving for jollof-rice is a positive development.


“The contest has been very successful because first time visitors want to sample either Nigerian or Ghanaian jollof-rice; celebrity visitors also joined in the contest and have helped us drive the message,” he said.


Uko said that he started a jollof-rice contest between Nigeria and other West African countries during the annual AKWAABA market in 2017.


He said that this was after realising that West African region had not developed a common and unique tourism product to showcase to the world like the East Africa’s wildlife.


According to him, the first edition of the contest in 2017 had 30 chefs from Nigeria and Ghana, with judges from East and Southern Africa.


He appreciated the media for their assistance in projecting Nigerian and West African jollof-rice to the world, which had helped it to gain huge recognition.


Uko said that in addition to the success recorded in projecting West African  tourism product in culinary tourism (jollof-rice), AKWAABA had also recorded success in wooing Africans from the diaspora.


He said at the 2019 edition of AKWAABA, some 15 Africans who had never come home were made to retrace their steps to their root with the help of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.


”I am glad because l am beginning to be fulfilled as most of my vision for creating AKWAABA is coming to fruition. We are connecting the dots already,” he said.


NAN reports that Cardi B expressed her cravings for Nigerian jollof-rice on her Instagram handle on Dec. 6, 2019.


She talked about not wanting to eat just any hotel food, but the real Nigerian jollof-rice.

Edited by: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Oluwole Sogunle




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AKWAABA: Exhibitors excited about bountiful sales, laud fair organisation



Exhibitors at the 2019 AKWAABA African Travel and Tourism Market have expressed excitement over bountiful sales and successful business transactions made during the fair which ended late on Tuesday.

They told the Nigeria News Agency that the fair had exposed them to other countries’ tourism and cultural potential, commending the organisers for a well organised fair which attracted influencers and stakeholders in Africa tourism industry.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the fair which began on Sept. 22 and ended Sept. 24 had over 50 exhibitors from Ghana, Nigeria, Dubai, Kenya, Gambia and other countries.

The exhibitors said that the fair was such an impactful one which needed to successfully grow Africa’s tourism and aviation industries to compete favourably with other developed countries.

Mr Consaga Khisa, Managing Director, Destination Connect from Kenya, who had been attending the fair for five years said the fair was only getting better.

According to him, a lot of business deals had been sealed during the fair which, he hoped to sustain participation in to grow his business.

“I love to say well done to the organisers of this fair, it has been an excellent one with encouraging responses from travel and tourism enthusiasts across Africa,” he said.

Also, Mr Kamal Baxani, Business Development Manager, Rayna Destination Management, who has been participating in the fair since inception 15 years ago, said he observed that the fair had helped in making the industry gain more tour operators and practitioners in other fields of tourism

He said these practitioners were not only creative, but also proactive and innovative which was as a result of the wealth of knowledge gained from each of the seminar sessions during the fair.

“I discovered that this fair is doing a lot than we all noticed; tour operators are now creative, innovative and proactive.

“Kudos to the organisers for a good initiative as this fair, it has fostered unity among the countries attending likewise developing their businesses,” he said.

Similarly, Mr Herbert Kongwieh, Group Sales and Marketing Manager, Alisa Hotels, Ghana, said the fair had been an impressive one as he had been able to build fresh customer contacts within Nigerian travel agents.

He advised the organisers to create more food courts in subsequent editions where people could easily access food as only one food vendor was allowed to service the mamoth crowd at the fair.

I am happy the fair is a huge success, I have gathered many business contacts from most of the travel agents around,” he said.

Mr Momoh Afegbua, the Chief Commercial Officer of National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Lagos , said that most of the tourists at the fair were able to familiarise themselves with the Nigerian arts and crafts.

He said though the sales of most of these crafts were not encouraging but the tourists had good admiration of the materials like the beaded necklace, earrings, Adire fabrics, carvings and all.

“We have a lot of people coming to appreciate Nigerian crafts and arts which we exhibited, they are sourvenirs, home decorations and fabrics.

“For us we have created some sense of knowledge of the Nigeria crafts and arts in the tourists,” he said.

(Edited By Adeboye Ajayi/Peter Ejiofor)

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AKWAABA: Harness tourism to grow Africa’s economy — Stakeholders




AKWAABA: Harness tourism to grow Africa’s  economy — Stakeholders

Some tourism and travel stakeholders on Monday called  for  maximum exploitation of Africa’s tourism potential to grow the continent’s economy.

They made the call during the  15th AKWAABA, African Travel and Tourism  Market underway at  Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

According to the tourism stakeholders, harnessing African countries’ tourism potential could liberate most of the countries from poverty.

Mr Alain St. Ange, Former Minister of Tourism and Culture, Seychelles, urged Africans to stay united while they collectively tap the their tourism potential.

He said Africans had unique tourism selling points which remained hidden treasures that needed to be showcased for Africa’s growth.

According to him, tourism is the only industry that can put money directly into the pocket of  citizens, urging Africans to open their borders to other African countries.

” We are scared of opening our doors to our brothers, sisters and friends in the same Africa; it is amazing how we develop as a people but not as nation, we should be able to develop as a nation.

” Let Africans embrace one another, find ways to make Africa stronger economically and get united,” he said.

Also, Dr Iddi Ziblim, Deputy Tourism Minister of Ghana, encouraged Africans to travel within Africa as the continent was endowed with numerous and unique tourists’ destination capable of boosting its economy.

He urged Africans to create more platforms through which Africans in the Diaspora could retrace their steps to their roots just as done in Ghana, Gambia and some other countries.

He said opportunities should be created  for the Africans in the Diaspora to have their DNA to trully ascertain the country they came from.

” We do not have to wait for the Americans to explore Africa, we must consciously promote our own things and that can be done only if we see ourselves as brothers and sisters,” he said.

Also, Mr Anago Osho said that Africans must make conscious efforts to ensure Africans across the globe retraced their steps as there were forces that were against Africans being united.

He urged African leaders to work on ensuring there were direct flights from Africa to the Caribbean as Africans had to go through Europe to get to the Caribbean.

He also urged African tour guides to tell African story from African perspective and not from the incorrect colonial masters crafted perspective.

” African history can only be relayed trully by using African perspective of their real history.

” The Africans in the Diaspora are interested in our true stories, relaying the false history created by our colonial masters can mislead alot of our people,” he said.

Mrs Ida Jeng Njie, Director of Tourism from the Gambia Tourism Board, said it was high time Africans come together as a nation and not as individual countries.

She said Africa lost the United Nations Secretary General position during the recent election due to lack of co-operation by Africans.

” Togetherness means power, we can achieve al being united, we must support one another,” she said.

Carol Hay said that Africans were not doing enough to protect historical heritage for future generation, saying that  proper protection of Africa’s historical heritage would boost tourism.

” We need to proudly promote our cultural and historical heritage

” Tourism is important to the Caribbean, we are one of the major dependent regions on tourism,” she said.


Edited by Wale Ojetimi

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Akwaaba has united African countries over the years, says father of tourism




Mr Mike Amachree, Nigeria’s father of tourism,  on Sunday said that  AKWAABA African Travel and Tourism Market  had united several African countries together  over the years.

He said it when he declared open the 15th edition of AKWAABA in Lagos.

The event was attended by  notable personalities in the  tourism industry from across African countries.

Amachree said that AKWAABA over the years had further united Africans and built cultural bonds as well as strengthened tourism ties across African countries.

Some of the exhibitors who spoke with the Nigeria News Agency expressed excitement during the opening ceremony held at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

They also said that they were optimistic  that this year’s edition would an improvement  over  the previous years due to the large number of tourists that graced the opening ceremony.

Mrs Ida Jeng Njie, Director of Tourism from the Gambia Tourism Board,  said that the aim of the country was to strengthen tourism business relationship with Nigerians and other African countries.


She said that the country was at 15th AKWAABA to showcase what it had in terms of tourism and culture as Nigerians were known to be fantastic tourists.

 According to her,  the opening event of the 15th AKWAABA was brilliant and the entire event looked promising.

” The fair looks so promising because we have more people coming in compared to the previous years.

” At the end of the fair, Nigerians and delegates from other countries will have been conversant with Gambia tourism and cultural potential and I hope to improve Gambia market through business ties.

” Gambia will be happy to work with Nigerian tour operators,” she said.

Mr Alfred Asumadu, Chief Marketing Officer of the  Ghana Tourism Authority,  said that the country was out to market its tourism sites to Africans generally in order to woo tourists into the country.

He said  that Ghana and Nigeria had enjoyed beautiful tourism business ties  due to Ghana’s proximity to Nigeria.

According to him, Nigerian market was big and inexhaustible because of the huge population and Nigeria’s interest in leisure and recreation.

” We do not have any choice than to be part of this fair because the name AKWAABA resonates within us, there is  a huge business opportunity in Nigeria and that is what we have come to explore,” he said.

Also Carol Hay, Director of Marketing of the  Caribbean Tourism Organisation, a first timer  AKWAABA said that the organisation had seen the value in partnering with Nigeria to promote Caribbean tourism.

Hay who went on the tour of most tourists’ sites within the Lagos State said she was amazed with the abundance of beautiful sites which the Caribbeans would like to also explore.

She said her visit to AKWAABA was also to strengthen tourism relations with Nigerians.

” I have been to most tourists’ sites within the state and I must say that there will be great benefits for the Caribbeans by partnering with Nigeria,” she said.

Mrs Firihiewot Mekonnen , the General Manager of the Ethiopian Airlines in Nigeria,  told that Akwaaba was an important event because it has been  uniting  Africans over the years.

Mekonnen said the airline had continued to support the event for the past 15 years as it was in line with the management’s business  plan to connect Africans.

“We started supporting Akwaaba from day one because Ethiopian Airlines believes in the unity of Africa and we have been playing a key role toward achieving  that.

“Also, Nigeria is a very important market for us and we will continue to support things that attract people to the country like Akwaaba,” she said.


Edited by Peter Dada

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General news

25 countries for 2019 AKWAABA- Organiser



Mr Ikechi Uko, Organiser of AKWAABA African Travel and Tourism Market, on Saturday said no fewer than 25 countries would grace the 2019 edition of the event slated to hold in Lagos  from Sept. 22 to Sept.24


Uko disclosed this while speaking with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos.


” AKWAABA events have been successful over the years and have attracted exhibitors from over 25 countries who are still going to grace this year’s edition.


” Some of the countries are Ghana, Togo, Benin, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Namibia, Botswana, Tunisia, Nigeria, AU CIDO, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation and more.


” AKWAABA brings travelers, airlines, hotels, restaurants, tour operators, travel agents, state tourism boards, foreign trade and other tourism sectors together for networking and business purposes.


” This has in turn improved the economy of the host country, Nigeria over the years and further united Africans,” he said.


Uko said 2019 AKWAABA, the 15th edition would feature the first African Tourism Diaspora Conference.


The 15th edition, he also disclosed would be part of the commemoration of 400 years, after the first slave ship was docked in America with slaves from Africa in 1619.


He said this was a celebration of 400 years freedom from slavery.


“The Africa Diaspora Tourism Conference presents a platform to discuss, initiate, dialogue and celebrate a new relationship.


“During the conference, there would be discussions on how to engage Nigerians in the diaspora and get more of them to visit Nigeria and West Africa,” he said.


Uko said the event would also feature 100 Global Tourism Personality Awards when leaders, industry practitioners and government officials who had promoted tourism and improved travels using unique platforms and new information would be recognised.


He said this had been done for 18 years now.


According to him, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi has been presented with the award, as the first Africa Travel 100 Global Personality.


He said the monarch would be the special guest of honor for the African Diaspora Tourism Conference during the event.


He said other programmes outlined for the event were: Aviation conference, Youth tourism conference, Caribbean tourism organisation, Jollof rice war which was meant to promote culinary tourism and more programmes.


The Nigeria News Agency reports that the 3-day event would hold at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.




Edited by Dada Ahmed

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Stakeholders commend NCAC for successful hosting of INAC



Venue of the 12th International Arts and Crafts Expo (INAC) at the Federal Capital Territory Exhibition Pavilion, Abuja

Some tourism and culture stakeholders have commended the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) for successfully hosting the 12th International Arts and Crafts Expo (INAC).


They gave the commendations in separate interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja at the end of 2019 INAC.


The expo which began Nov. 20 and ended on Nov. 24, at the Federal Capital Territory Exhibition Pavilion, Abuja had a theme entitled: “Networking Nigerian Crafts to the World.”


The stakeholders said the annual expo had been a veritable platform for global unity and cohesion, adding that it should be sustained.


Mr Sayyed Mohammed-Azimi, Cultural Consular, Iran Embassy in Abuja said that the platform was a beautiful one, for the country to see how Nigeria and Iran could collaborate in improving their arts and crafts.


Mohammed-Azimi, commending the organisers of the fair, said that in spite the economic situation of the country, the fair came out successful.


He said that the platform had challenged countries on areas they needed to improve in their arts and crafts, having learnt from countries that were doing better.


The consular urged countries to come with improved quality of their arts and crafts next edition of the fair so that people could learn more.


”I like to appreciate NCAC for this platform and for holding this edition, in spite challenges.


”This has created thirst in most countries to be more creative, just like for my country, Iran.


”We will be improving on our arts, based on what we have learnt so far from Nigeria and other countries,” he said.


Mr Ikechi Uko, organiser of AKWAABA African Travel and Tourism Marketa also commended the organiser of the event for engaging the international communities in marketing nation’s products in the creative industry.


He said this had given Nigeria leverage over other countries, adding that citizens of other countries were more aware of Nigerian arts and crafts.


”I have always believed in engaging the international community for our products to be well marketed and that is what we do in AKWAABA,” he said.


Mr Oluwaseye Adeyemo, Executive Director, Ogun State Council for Arts and Culture said that NCAC should be commended because it had improved tremendously on the annual fair.


He said with the huge success recorded, there was room for improvement on certain areas of the organisation like focusing on adequate publicity for the fair in subsequent years.


Adeyemo also urged other states that did not participate to avail themselves of the opportunity next year, assuring them that  lots of business opportunities abound in the fair.


”The fair has been quite interesting and educating, I give kudos to the organisers, international delegates and states present who had worked tirelessly to ensure the fair comes out beautifully.


”I like to call on other countries and states not present to watch out for next edition, lots of business opportunities could be tapped here for the unemployed.


”It is a platform to network for business ideas, an avenue to draw inspiration and spur creativity,” he said.


Adeyemo said that such a platform was needed to ensure citizens of different countries come to mingle for business purposes.


Nigeria News Agency reports that over 30 countries and 18 states participated in the fair with lots of activities ranging from free skills acquisition, free medical check-up, investment forum, states and countries days.


Edited & Vetted By: Dada Ahmed

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Dubai Tourism boss wants more Nigerian musicians to play Afro-beat




Issam Karim, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, has urged more Nigerian musicians to embrace Afro-beat music genre of Late Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

Karim told the Nigeria News Agency in an interview on Tuesday in Lagos that the Afro-beat music was only embraced by few Nigerian artistes.

According to him, the music had been exported to other African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Benin Republic where it was showcased to the entire world, thereby, boosting their tourism industry.

NAN reports that Afro-beat is a music genre that involves the combination of elements of West African musical styles such as Fuji, highlife with American funk and jazz influences.

“Afro-beat originated in Nigeria, it has been exported to other African countries that are currently exploring it.

“I feel Nigeria should be benefiting more from this genre of music because it is theirs,” the Dubia tourim boss said.

Karim called on Nigerian government to create Afro-beat festival in celebration of the music as it was capable of attracting tourists and Afro-beat musicians across the globe.

He further said that such event would boost Nigeria’s internally generated revenue and place it on the global entertainment map.

He urged government to encourage and develop upcoming artistes in other genres of music such as Waka and Juju to boost the industry.

Karim described Nigerians as hospitable and accommodating, having attended the AKWAABA African Travel and Tourism Market in Nigeria for four consecutive years.

He said Nigeria stood at a vantage position to be Africa’s tourism leader, considering the nation’s endowment in terms of cultural asset, cuisines, festivals, among others.

“I love Nigeria’s culture of respect and accommodating nature. The cuisines are amazing, so rich in cultural offers, celebrations, festivals and music.

“I look forward to another visit for leisure and not for business to explore the tourism asset the nation is blessed with,” he said.

Recall that the legendary musician Anikulapo Kuti created the Afro-beat music in the 1970s which is instructive, educating and entertaining.

Other artists that has kept the Afro-beat alive across Africa are: Mombasa Roots Band from Kenya, Femi Kuti in Nigeria, Wiyala from Ghana, Ochestra Poly Rythmo and de Cotonou from Benin Republic.(NAN)


Edited by Chinyere Bassey/Wale OJETIMI





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Independence: Stakeholders say aviation industry potential still untapped



Aviation stakeholders on Tuesday said that the industry had the potential to facilitate Nigeria’s economic growth, with implementation and execution of the right policies and projects.

They claimed on Tuesday  that Nigeria had yet to get maximum  benefits from aviation due to lack of political will and long-term planning by successive administrations.

The stakeholders expressed their views in interviews with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos.

They appraised the performance of the industry as Nigeria celebrates 59th independence anniversary.

The President, Aviation Round Table (ART), Dr Gbenga Olowo, said that aviation was a key driver of economic growth because it created opportunities for commerce to thrive.

He said that Nigeria had yet to tap into many of the gains of aviation in spite of its huge population and strategic location.

Olowo said that political will was required for Nigeria to reposition itself as a global force in aviation.

He said that the plans for the sector by the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, had yet to be actualised.

According to him, distractions from the 2019 General Elections slowed down activities in the sector,  resulting  in unimplemented policies and unexecuted projects.

He said : “If you measure the last one year,  which was an election year, things slowed down in the industy.

“We have a lot of projects yet to be executed and policies yet to be implemented.

“The government is running out of time to deliver on its promises in the aviation sector such as airport concession, airlines growth and establishing aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities.

“We need to move to the implementation stage, and it requires strong political will.”

Olowo said that Ghana had, in the last four years,  transformed the Kotoka International Airport in Accra and was planning to establish a national carrier.

“They have packaged it together, and during the last International Air Transport Association session, they came up and spoke about it,” he said.

Mr Ikechi Uko, Convener, Akwaaba Travel and Tourism Market, said that Nigeria should link aviation with other sectors, particularly tourism, to attract more visitors to the country.

Uko cited Ethiopia and South Africa as two countries that had successfully established and grown  their national carriers by focusing on the strength of their nations.

“I believe that we should develop and implement our own Aviation Road Map just like other countries are doing.

“We must be able to link aviation to other areas such as tourism and healthcare to attract people to Nigeria.

“This requires long-term planning and continuity which we have not been able to achieve,” he said.


Edited by Chioma Ugboma/Ijeoma Popoola

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Experts advise African governments on implementation of aviation policies



As the 15th AKWAABA African Travel and Tourism Market ended on Tuesday in Lagos, aviation industry experts have urged African governments to ensure effective implement of policies that would improve the contribution of the sector to the continent’s economy.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that they spoke at a seminar with theme: “Impact of Airport Development and Airlines on Tourism Growth”.

Mr Aaron Munetsi, Chief Executive Officer, Africa Aviation Services Ltd., said that policies, processes and procedures guided by discipline were needed to drive the business of aviation in Africa.

Muntesi noted that Africa had about 500 airports with less than 19 per cent currently being underutilised, adding that there was need to increase connectivity within the continent.

He decried the problem of multiple taxation in the aviation industry across African countries which had continued to hinder the growth of the sector.

Munetsi urged African governments to explore other aspects of the economy in order to get revenue and stop imposing unnecessary charges on the airlines.

“The rate at which airlines are taxed is alarming. Sometimes airlines are charged just for writing their names on the boarding pass.

“Charging Africans to pay for visas is an act of poverty. African governments must look for other means of making money but not through multiple taxation,” he said.

Munetsi noted that the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM) was adopted by the African Union (AU) to achieve the objective of liberalising air transportation among Africans.

“African airlines should be allowed to operate anywhere within Africa as this will create a healthy bond and unity among Africans.

“The weather of the various African countries is an advantage for Africans to properly groom the aviation industry to the western world admiration.

“The African free trade zone can only be successful if the African airports and airlines are positioned to be efficient in terms of service delivery.

“The role of the governments is to create an enabling environment through access to capital for airlines and development of airport infrastructure.

“An aviation sector that is privately driven and modeled after the best practices is key to growing the African economy,” he said.

Also, Mr Chris Aligbe, Chief Executive Officer, Belujane Consult, said that concession of airports was a good decision to ensure that Nigeria develops a viable aviation industry.

Aligbe said that Nigerian airports would operate better under a concessionaires due to the Federal Government’s inability to finance modern airport infrastructure.

He urged Nigerians to capitalise on their hospitable and accommodating virtues to groom the nation’s tourism industry.

Aligbe said that even as the fair was ongoing, foreigners had attested to the fact that Nigerians were accommodating and hospitable and this should be leveraged on.

According to him, the nation’s tourism industry can be the best in Africa if the needed infrastructure are put in place.

(Edited by Folasade Adeniran/Peter Ejiofor)

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