Monthly Archives: August 2013

Al Housh Resturant & Cafe |

Thomas Klein International (TKI), the Dubai-based food and beverage consultants, recently announced the opening of Al Housh located in Khartoum, Sudan.

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The eatery, featuring 25 stalls selling food and fresh produce and a seating capacity for 600 people, forms part of the El Seref Tourism and Hospitality project, and is the largest outlet located within the 45,000 square feet destination.

“Al Housh offers traditional Sudanese cuisine, and recreates a souk layout and experience whereby customers are brought back to a time and place when the ingredients were at the core of the food they ate,” explains Daniel During, Principal and Managing Director of Thomas Klein International.

“Similarly, the interior design was inspired by the ancient street markets and souks, and we have created similar courtyards and alleys throughout the eatery, to create an authentic dining experience.”

The food and beverage concept was designed after scouring the country to learn about traditional cooking methods, recipes and ingredients.

“We visited every hook and cranny in every souk, every street and stall and spoke to many locals about the Sudanese food and their ways of eating.”

“After months of unrelenting research and education, it all became clear. This amazing food, and culinary traditions, along with the ancient recipes and cooking methods where all hidden in back allies in a huge city, accessible only to the male population, unreachable to women and children and families.”

“We needed to frame this proud heritage and make it available to the wider public and expose it to the world. We needed to showcase Sudanese traditions in a way that would make the Sudanese proud of what their land has to offer. Most of all, we were inspired to create a place that would appeal to Sudanese families and foreigners alike.”

TKI worked with several local and international companies to replicate the ancient Sudanese cooking methods while meeting modern standards of food quality, hygiene and safety. El Seref also has its own on-site slaughterhouse and butchery, as well as a fishmonger. Local breads are baked on site, and most vegetables and herbs are sourced locally.

The main focus was to create a buzzing, dynamic food hall/market concept, rich in sights and sounds, that truly celebrates the native cooking of Sudan. The restaurant features 25 different food stalls, including a spice market, fruit and vegetable market, a deli, bakery, pastry shop, as well as a butcher and fishmonger and traditional street food stalls.

“We also have many live cooking stalls to showcase a host of traditional methods of cooking such as Agashe – a western Sudanese method of grilling meat, whereby the meat and chicken is placed on sticks nestled in the sand around charcoal in a circle.

“There is also the Sudanese Wok and a Salat – a typical Sudanese grilling method whereby hot charcoal is placed in a sand hole and covered with pebbles on which marinated meat slices are cooked,” said During.

Al Housh also offers customers the option to buy fresh produce and ingredients, as well as hot dishes, from the various stalls, complete with expert advice. Diners can order from the stalls or from the menu, and dine in the restaurant or take their freshly-cooked meal home.

“Ultimately, the freshness of the food is very important to the entire concept, and diners are encouraged to watch their food being prepared at the stalls, thereby enjoying the action and traditional skills of the experts,” added During.

Thomas Klein International worked closely with Iskan, a Khartoum-based design company, for the design of Al Housh, which is owned by El Seref Tourism and Hospitality


Africa hosts UNWTO meeting in anticipation of tourism boom

LIVINGSTONE, Zambia, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) — The co-hosting of the 20th United Nations World Tourism (UNWTO) general assembly by Zambia and Zimbabwe has been described by many as a milestone in promoting tourism development in Africa.

The general assembly is the main statutory meeting of the UNWTO and the most important gathering of senior tourism officials and high-level representatives from around the world.

The rising continent, where many countries boast an annual economic growth of at least 5 percent, is placing high hopes on the session underway in the Zambian tourist capital of Livingstone and the Zimbabwean town of Victoria Falls.

During the Aug. 24-29 event, which attracts more than 4, 000 delegates, the two countries commended the UNWTO for giving them an opportunity to host the event, stressing the meeting is held when tourism has become a pillar of economic development in Africa.

Sylvia Masebo, Zambian minister of tourism and arts, believes that the hosting of the event will have a lasting impact on the tourism industry as the two nations now have an opportunity to showcase various tourism attractions to the entire world.

“I am therefore alive to the fact that my country is carrying the hopes and aspirations of an entire continent. Zambia’s success is Africa’s success,” she said in her welcome message.

“We expect to leave an indelible mark on our memories, and that it be part of our generational legacy, marking a clear turning point in the tourism fortunes of our two countries, our regions and indeed our continent,” she added.

While it is acknowledged that tourism is on the rise in many African nations, what should be borne in mind is that the sector is beset by challenges which need to be tackled for improvement.

Although international tourist arrivals in Africa have surged from 15 million in 1990 to 50 million recorded last year and tourism earnings from 6 billion U. S. dollars in 1990 to 34 billion dollars last year, its share of global tourism is only 5 percent and its revenues from the industry accounts for only 4 percent in the world. Challenges to the sustainable development of the tourism in Africa include poor infrastructure, unreliable air transport, taxes on tourism investment, low levels of tourism skills, safety and high crime rates, visa requirements and inadequate accommodation space.

During the official opening of the general assembly, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe expressed concern at the problem of connectivity in Africa, saying Africa will only be able to promote tourism by increasing intra-Africa travel. The Zimbabwean leader described visa requirements as a serious problem, calling for urgent measures to undress the unfriendly visa and border regimes existing on the continent to benefit more from global economic cake.

“The current situation where Africa only has a four percent share of global tourism revenue in spite of its massive natural and cultural tourism resources is a matter of great concern to us. There is no way Africa can increase its portion of the global tourism cake without first promoting intra-Africa travel,” he said.

The problem of visa requirements was also high on the agenda during a roundtable meeting of ministers responsible for tourism in Africa held at Elephant Hills Hotel in Zimbabwe on the sidelines of the general assembly on Monday.

According to a communique issued after the meeting, the ministers acknowledged that crossing international borders is a fundamental experience, while expressing concerns that complicated visa procedures have continued to impede tourists from traveling.

The ministers agreed on the need to speedily remove visa requirements and introduce other measures such as eVisas or introduce visa on arrival measures.

According to a study by the World Bank aimed at helping Africa increase tourism, airfares in Africa were almost 50 percent higher than elsewhere and charter tours were 20-30 percent more expensive compared with other destinations.

The study shows that only 10 percent of the region’s 390, 000 hotel rooms are estimated to meet international standards while road transport was found to be notoriously poor in much of Africa.

As UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rufai said, the future of Africa’s development lies with the tourism industry, hence the need for countries to increase efforts to promote the sector.

By Mu Dong, Elias Shilangwa   2013-08-28

Major new investment flows targeting African travel and tourism

Following last week’s announcement of the launch of GATEtrip (Tourism Responsible Investment Platform) by GATE Global Impact, the same company has today launched a program with Indigo Communications of Kenya to raise funds to bring low-cost Impact WIFI across African countries, starting immediately with Kenya. A key component of the program will be to bring new investment for Travel & Tourism related projects and services connected to the network. Geoffrey Lipman, Director of GATEtrip and President of ICTP said, “We are committed to bringing new Impact Investment to local communities in Africa by linking Travel & Tourism investment to the “new connectivity paradigm.” We are especially delighted that ICTP Members will have the opportunity to engage in this new initiative.”

Partnership between leading Impact Investment technology platform, GATE Global Impact, and Indigo Group Limited a satellite-based telecommunications provider for Africa – to drive Impact Investment capital for wireless Internet in the developing world via the joint venture “Gate Impact Partners”.

Indigo Group Limited has helped pioneer ImpactWifi, a new technology using innovative business models, which provide low cost, high speed, wireless broadband to the developing world. The ability to connect rural communities and deliver good is being branded “Impact Wifi.” This initiative creates opportunities for employment, education and healthcare that will positively impact millions of lives. Through deploying solar-powered base stations and utilizing unused TV band spectrum, ImpactWIFI will bring Internet to some of the most rural areas in Africa, bridging the digital divide. “Mawingu,” Kiswahili for cloud, is the name of the first deployment of ImpactWIFI, which is connecting remote communities in Kenya, providing power, content and life changing opportunities.

“Impact Investing has emerged in recent years as a way to promote and fund both social and environmental projects with the possibility to generate financial returns, while effecting change. Impact Wifi is the branded name by Gate impact partners utilizing “TV White spaces“ to provide low cost assess to Wi-Fi in rural areas, beginning to close the digital divide starting in Africa. Now it is poised to take a quantum leap as governments, seeking to tap alternative investment pools, adapt regulatory controls to expand this marketplace. At the same time, Crowdfunding, using the power of the web 3.0 and social media, will in the coming years profoundly alter how entrepreneurs and SME’s access capital at the base of the pyramid globally,” said Vincent Molinari, CEO of GATE Global Impact.

Gate Impact Partners “GIP” has been formed as a joint venture to raise capital that will be deployed in Impact Wifi infrastructure projects around the world. Pete Henderson, Chairman of “GIP” says “The funding of Impact Wifi projects around the world will have a massive impact on people’s lives. These investments will improve the quality of life, create employment and have long lasting positive impacts on the recipients. The fund is designed to provide a return to investors thereby making this a long term, sustainable model. We are excited by the opportunity to provide such meaningful change to so many.”

Another practical application of ImpactWIFI will be to increase connectivity for the vital tourism sector by driving Impact Investment through GATE Global Impact’s dedicated GATEtrip platform, supporting community-based visitor related projects and services.

“GIP” will be powered by GATE Impact’s GATEWAY Platform; a robust, regulatory compliant electronic end-to-end solution for buyers and sellers of Impact Investments – investments that have the ability to generate a measurable social and/or environmental benefit alongside a potential for financial return. The GATE Impact platform has been hailed as unique in its ability to provide investors with the transparency, efficiency, metrics and ability to find liquidity they need to identify and transact securities in this emerging asset class. All securities are offered through GATE US, a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).


President Uhuru Kenyatta pledges to speed up integration in East Africa

The Kenyan government on Wednesday pledged its commitment to expediting the regional integration in East Africa by promoting the free movement of labor, goods and services.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said his government has also undertook to deepen Kenya’s economic ties with neighboring countries—South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia, and to take steps towards eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers while encouraging greater collaboration of regional partners.

The president said the regional integration will be spearheaded through joint infrastructure programs and investments to harness the collective potential of the region.

“I have enumerated these commitments to assure Your Excellencies of my government’s wholesome involvement in the projects encompassed in our summit’s action points,” Kenyatta said in the coastal city of Mombasa where he commissioned a new berth at the port.

The facility reflects the expanded capacity at the port of Mombasa and will enable berthing of large container ships. It is the single largest berth capacity expansion undertaken in 35 years.

“We have no option. This is the call of our time. We are the custodians of the gateway to East Africa. Our regional brothers and sisters depend on us to ensure that they never fall in want or suffer unnecessary inconvenience owing to inefficiency or corruption at this port,” he said.

The Mombasa-based port facility is the best equipped on the East African coast, being the second largest port in terms of tonnage and containers handled after Durban of South Africa. It serves the hinterland markets of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Kenyatta has said Mombasa port must position itself to serve the interests of the entire East Africa region, and that the government plans to transform the port into the largest, busiest and most business-friendly sea-port on the East African coast.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda said the port was critical in assisting producers of goods and services in the region to access local and international markets.

Museveni, who is also the current chairman of the East African Community, challenged regional states to unite in a bid to create a bigger market for regional products and services as well as consolidate their bargaining power with major global economies and trading blocs.

He lauded his Kenyan counterpart’s personal efforts that helped remove non-tariff barriers such as roadblocks and corruption resulting in faster movements of goods, people and services between Kenya and Uganda.

During the commissioning, Kenyatta expressed his government’s readiness to improve road and rail links with neighboring countries, starting with the building of a standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Malaba in order to increase rail freight from the current 4 percent to at least 50 percent in the next few years.

He said Kenya was also committed to the Lamu Port-South Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) project to pave way for the transformation of transport and logistics and accelerate the social and economic development of the region.

“Aside from infrastructure development, my government is hastening the removal of barriers to more effective trade through the rationalization of procedures and systems with a view to eliminating unnecessary business costs,” Kenyatta said.

East African leaders agree on fast-track visa

MOMBASA, Kenya (Xinhua) — Leaders from the five East African Community (EAC) countries on Wednesday agreed on a single tourist visa for the region to facilitate tourism industry following a one-day summit in the Kenyan coast city of Mombasa.

The agreement was reached by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, his counterparts Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and representatives from South Sudan and Burundi. Their relevant ministers should finalize the modality of the use of national Identity Cards (ID) as travel documents before Oct. 15.

Speaking at the second infrastructure summit, Kenyatta said efforts are being made by customs and revenue officials in all the five countries to ensure that free movement of people within the EAC is achieved by January 2014.

“We have had tremendous progress with regard to the single tourist visa, and with regard to movement of people through use of ID cards, voters’ cards, students’ IDs to allow free movement of our people within our countries,” he said.

The five countries have a wide range of tourists’ products that compliment each other and therefore would enable the region capture a huge market.

Industry watchers say the common visa will ease travel arrangements for those intending to tour East African attractions.

At the moment, foreign tourists visiting EAC countries are required to stamp their passports in each EAC country visited.

Tourism is a vital sector for the entire East African trading bloc and has contributed immensely to the development of the region.

Besides foreign exchange, the industry also creates thousands of employment opportunities for East Africans.

The ministers responsible for tourism also agreed that partner countries should fully address the negative image portrayed and subsequent negative travel advisories issued.

The summit was a follow up to the first one held in Uganda two months ago which resolved to strengthen the East African infrastructure network in order to enhance cross-border trade.

“I am gratified that Your Excellencies share a common vision to catalyze the momentum of regional growth through deliberate actions to address challenges,” Kenyatta said.

The region also seeks to introduce a single currency under a monetary union. The monetary union in the EAC with a combined population estimated at 135 million and with a collective GDP of 79.25 billion US dollars will have a great positive economic impact for the entire region.

The tourism sector has started harmonizing hospitality services policies and laws in the region in anticipation for a full cooperation and to sustainably utilize the resources as a region.

Kenyatta said that although there is still a lot of work to be done, tremendous progress has been made towards achieving the goal of a single tourist visa for the region.

The EAC has been working on the common passport and visa since 2005, but the initiatives have been delayed due to security concerns, poor infrastructure, and disagreements over visa fee schedules and modality of revenue sharing.

Kenyatta said the region will be more successful if the countries move together.

He said the EAC has potential to attract potential investors and open up a region with a market of over 200 million people.

The next summit will be held in Kigali, Rwanda during the third week of October to review the progress in implementing the outcome of the summit.

Kenyatta called on the regional leaders to remain focused on strengthening their coordination on common projects and programs that spur economic growth in the region.

He also presented a report on the best means of exploiting electricity resources within each partner state, including such alternatives as nuclear, geo-thermal and other forms of renewable energy.

During the Entebbe Summit, Kenya was tasked with spearheading the electricity generation and distribution as well as the development of two regional pipelines to pump refined oil between Eldoret-Kampala and Kigali and crude oil between Uganda-Kenya and South Sudan.

Kenyatta urged the summit to consider the model that offers the best returns for the region, saves implementation time without compromising competitiveness or required standards.

Leaders in the region should address infrastructure links and other communication bottlenecks that impede enhanced movement of people, goods and services across the borders, he said, stressing the need for more efficient transport and communications infrastructure.

East African Community integration benefits boost Kenya tourism

NAIROBI (Xinhua) — The ongoing East African Community (EAC) integration efforts will boost tourists arrivals into Kenya, a government official said on Wednesday.

Kenya Tourism Board Managing Director Murithi Ndegwa said told journalists in Nairobi that relaxed immigration rules will result in more Ugandans, Rwandan visiting Kenya.

“We are expecting the number of incoming tourists from the EAC to increase as a result of regional integration efforts,” Ndegwa said during the preparations for the 23rd edition of the International Maralal Camel Derby.

The event, which has attracted participants from 16 different countries, will take place from Aug. 30 –Sept. 1 in northern Kenya.

Beginning January 2014, Kenya, Uganda and Rwandese nationals will be permitted to travel into each other countries by using their identity cards. The EAC is also in the final stages of implementing a single visa for the five member states.

KTB said that growth rates of tourists from the EAC are growing faster than that of traditional sources markets in the west.

“We have therefore set a target of at least two percent annual growth for tourists from both domestic and the EAC member states,” he said. The managing director said that the number of domestic tourists in Kenya is also increasing.

“Last year, they accounted for 43 percent of all bed nights in Kenya,” he said. According to Ndgewa, the expanding economy has resulted in a middle class that has high disposal income.

“Kenyans are now more aware of tourism, which was once the preserve of foreign tourists. The local tourists play an important role in stabilizing the tourism sector that is heavily dependent on international arrivals,” he said.

KTB noted that military interventions along the Indian Ocean coastline have impacted positively on Kenya’s cruise industry.

“Piracy has reduced dramatically and this has led to an increase in the number of tourists calling on Kenya’s port of Mombasa,” he said.

Samburu County Deputy Governor Joseph Lemarkat said that the camel derby will be an opportunity to open up Kenya’s northern region for tourism and other economic investments.

“It will also forge peace and harmony amongst the conflict prone pastoral communities living in the area,” he said.

Lemarkat noted that another aim of the race is to encourage locals to appreciate and participate in the tourism and conservation sectors.

According to the deputy governor, Kenya’s northern region has a rich cultural heritage.

“We are therefore encouraging the business community to invest in the tourism and real estate sectors of the county,” he said..

By Chris Mgidu and Joy Nabukewa MOMBASA, Kenya (Xinhua)

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