Monday, 13 May 2013


Mercy Johnson's Family Photo

Welcome to Naija Gist: Kofi Annan: Africa Plundered By Secret Mining Deal...

Welcome to Naija Gist: Kofi Annan: Africa Plundered By Secret Mining Deal...: Kofi Annan: Africa Plundered By Secret Mining Deals ...

Amaechi, Oshiomhole Shun Governors’ Meeting

Amaechi, Oshiomhole Shun Governors’ Meeting

Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and his Edo State counterpart, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole on Sunday shunned the South-South/South-East Governors’ meeting held in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
During the summit the governors drummed up support for President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term ambition.
Although Amaechi, the Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, was represented by his deputy, Tele Ikuru, Oshiomhole did not send any representative to the meeting.
The absence of the Rivers State governor at the meeting further confirmed speculation that he was no longer in the good books of President Jonathan, thus deepening the political rivalry between the two political giants in the South-South region.
Oshiomhole’s absence from the meeting might not be unconnected with his romance with All Progressives Congress (APC), while his counterpart in the fledging party and Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha who showed up close to the end of the meeting, joined in the post-meeting press briefing.
Others at the meeting were all the South-East governors including Peter Obi (Anambra), Martin Elechi (Ebonyi), Theodore Orji (Abia) and Sullivan Chime (Enugu).
The South-South governors present included the host, Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa) and Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom).
In their 12-point communiqué, the governors declared their support for President Jonathan’s transformation agenda, adding that his focused leadership and bold result-yielding transformation agenda deserves the unwavering support of all Nigerians and friends of Nigeria alike.
Chairman of South-South Governors’ Forum, Liyel Imoke of Cross River State who read part of the communiqué said the meeting was geared towards economic and political integration of the two zones.

Kofi Annan: Africa Plundered By Secret Mining Deal

Kofi Annan: Africa Plundered By Secret Mining Deals

By BBC News
Tax avoidance, secret mining deals and financial transfers are depriving Africa of the benefits of its resources boom, ex-UN chief Kofi Annan has said.
Firms that shift profits to lower tax jurisdictions cost Africa $38bn (£25bn) a year, says a report produced by a panel he heads.
"Africa loses twice as much money through these loopholes as it gets from donors," Mr Annan told the BBC.
It was like taking food off the tables of the poor, he said.
The Africa Progress Report is released every May - produced by a panel of 10 prominent figures, including former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Graca Machel, the wife of South African ex-President Nelson Mandela.
'Highly opaque'
African countries needed to improve governance and the world's richest nations should help introduce global rules on transparency and taxation, Mr Annan said.
The report gave the Democratic Republic of Congo as an example, where between 2010 and 2012 five under-priced mining concessions were sold in "highly opaque and secretive deals".
Kofi Annan: "Transparency is a powerful tool"
This cost the country, which the charity Save the Children said earlier this week was the world's worst place to be a mother, $1.3bn in revenues.
This figure was equivalent to double DR Congo's health and education budgets combined, the report said.
DR Congo's mining minister disputed the findings, saying the country had "lost nothing".
"These assets were ceded in total transparency," Martin Kabwelulu told Reuters news agency.
The report added that many mineral-rich countries needed "urgently to review the design of their tax regimes", which were designed to attract foreign investment when commodity prices were low.
It quotes a review in Zambia which found that between 2005 and 2009, 500,000 copper mine workers were paying a higher rate of tax than major multinational mining firms.
Africa loses more through what it calls "illicit outflows" than it gets in aid and foreign direct investment, it explains.
"We are not getting the revenues we deserve often because of either corrupt practices, transfer pricing, tax evasion and all sorts of activities that deprive us of our due," Mr Annan told the BBC's Newsday programme.
"Transparency is a powerful tool," he said, adding that the report was urging African leaders to put "accountability centre stage".
Mr Annan said African governments needed to insist that local companies became involved in mining deals and manage them in "such a way that it also creates employment".
"This Africa cannot do alone. The tax evasion, avoidance, secret bank accounts are problems for the world… so we all need to work together particularly the G8, as they meet next month, to work to ensure we have a multilateral solution to this crisis," he said.
For richer nations "if a company avoids tax or transfers the money to offshore account what they lose is revenues", Mr Annan said.
"Here on our continent, it affects the life of women and children - in effect in some situations it is like taking food off the table for the poor.

Okupe, “The Attack Lion” Under Fire For Selling Poison As Wholesome Food!

Okupe, “The Attack Lion” Under Fire For Selling Poison As Wholesome Food!

We may disguise poison by mingling it with wholesome food, but that cannot change its nature. On the contrary, it is rendered more dangerous.
This is exactly what Doyin Okupe, President Jonathan’s senior image maker and propagandist attempts to do on the AJ Stream video interview posted on SaharaReporters May 8.
The Al Jazeera interview featured Omoyele Sowore, publisher SaharaReporters, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka in London, and Doyin Okupe in Abuja.
The interview was conducted by Femi Oke with background story by Yvonne Ndege, Abuja based Al Jazeera West Africa correspondent.
The focus of the interview is Boko Haram terrorism: destruction of lives, disruption of peace, and the distribution of fear and insecurity in the homeland.
Okupe in a cadenced, monotonous, and repetitive nonsense find it difficult to articulate Jonathan’s administration response to a terrorist group that has constituted itself into a government by fiat.
Okupe painstakingly miserly calculates the human costs of Jonathan’s inept handling of Boko Haram terrorists. “Trusting a fool to convey a message,” the Book of Proverbs warns us, “is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking a poison!”
The segment of the interview that I find amusing as well as disturbing is the issue of corruption as a factor for the rise of Boko Haram lunatics.
Oke asked his guests the factors that were responsible for the mayhem perpetrated and perpetuated by Boko Harams.
Soyinka says mammoth corruption, alienation, mismanagement and other ideological reasons made the recruitment of ready and willing foot soldiers for Boko Haram possible and available.
Sowore explains that like other problems that confront Nigeria, the Jonathan administration had no strategy or solution to halt the insurgency of Boko Harams.
Gesticulating with his hands as if he was cutting Okupe’s lies into pieces, Sowore begins his attack:
“Well, it’s a little bit of everything. It’s a cocktail of how Nigeria has been run in the last 40 years, and the law enforcement agencies have been involved in corruption over the years, they have destroyed the agency of security, they have destroyed the country, they have dehumanized its people.”
“You have every little problem in Nigeria escalating into a big thing. When we didn’t have Boko Haram, we had Niger Delta militants. As a matter of fact, a guy named Dokubo Asari threatened as we speak that if Jonathan the president does not become president in 2015, they’ll render Nigeria ungovernable.”
“Kidnappers in the eastern part of Nigeria have made it impossible for the people to bury their dead. So, Nigeria is badly run. Corruption has ruined Nigeria; it has dehumanized its people. “
“And these leaders are seen as people who don’t love their people, they don’t love the country and that is why you see Dr. Okupe when he was speaking he didn’t even know where this is coming from. He said they’re using force, they’re using dialogue.”
“But even as we speak today the amnesty they organized has failed because the army and elements in the military do not want the amnesty to succeed because this is where they make their corruption money from.”
“The military and JTF in Niger Delta are involved in some form of corruption called oil bunkering.  They loved it. They love Nigeria the way it is broken and that’s why citizens should gather together and face up to our reality. We have a bad leadership in place that can’t get anything done.” 
Okupe who appears in outward splendor but with a stolen complacency, in reality mocks the longings of his sin-sick soul – an evidence of inward corruption – shot back:
“… Sometimes one cannot but be ashamed about certain pseudo elites of Nigeria like Sowore and co castigate their own country and the leadership of their own country.”
“Being tucked away far away in the United States in the comfort zone it is a lot easier to just condemn various governments and various administrations in your own country.”
Truth is always narrow, but error goes off in all directions. In his comedy of lies, Okupe veers into many directions. Listen to him:
“Now I remember  very well there was a time in Ghana when everything went down to the most basic thing, poverty became very difficult to live to the extent that people became displayed and they were moving away from their homes in Ghana, they flooded all the West Africa coast especially Nigeria.”
“What I’m trying to say is that in spite of ravaging poverty, Ghanaians did not take up arms against their country. They agreed there is a lot of youthful unemployment but that itself cannot explain the degree of devastation that Nigeria is facing from Boko Haram.”
“People cannot pretend not to recognize the new phenomenon that’s going on in the world. It’s a global thing…”
“Well, we have a major problem in Nigeria with this insurgency but the federal government in Nigeria is doing its utmost best to sort it out and I believe the Nigerian military security agencies have the capability to resolve this issue but because it’s an internal insurgency there is a need to have limited attack.”
By the way, who needs Okupe’s counseling by comparison? That Ghanaians didn’t “take up arms against their country in spite of ravaging poverty,” means Nigerians should follow such example of docility and imbecility?
Where was Okupe during the Arab Springs?
As if waiting for the big kill, after all we’re talking of a “lion,” Sowore pounced on his prey:
“I just want to say briefly to Dr. Okupe that I don’t like when they make comparison between Nigeria and other countries that are broken. They never made comparisons between Nigeria and other countries that are working because Ghana did not make $500 billion from oil by the time it had poverty.
“Ghana didn’t have the kind of land space, the rivers, the seas, the very, very, very progressive and hardworking people that Nigeria had when Ghana went through all of that.”
“We’re saying once again that it’s very convenient to accuse some of us who are trying to make Nigeria work that we’re tucked away somewhere abroad..”
“Dr. Doyin Okupe forgot that when the military was ravaging the land we were student leaders who were fighting on ground when the likes of Dr. Okupe were all running around doing deals with the military leaders and selling away Nigeria. And that’s part of the problem.”
“I reported on Dr. Doyin Okupe himself. He has been involved in corruption and that’s why Nigeria is the way it is today because he was detained for several months for corruption and see where he is speaking on behalf of Nigeria.”
“I see you laughing Dr. Okupe, jump in right quickly,” says Oke the moderator.
“… Because the guy that is talking to you is a huge joke, he’s a liar, a man without reputation and people who collect money and say anything to destroy people. You see him talking about corruption about me. There have never been charges of corruption against me, in fact this is what they do.”
Sowore goes on the prowl again:
“You were detained for corruption by the EFCC…”  As Okupe tries to free himself from Sowore’s jaws, he angrily emits a shrill outburst: “Can you please shut up, you just disparate people and just mess them up. Because you have online media that does not give you right to destroy people’s rights and personalities.”
One of Okupe’s devices in defending all that is wrong with the Jonathan administration is to combine with falsehood just enough truth to give it plausibility.
Okupe calls Sowore and other critics of the Jonathan administration “pseudo elites.” It is an irony that Okupe who is the most qualified Nigerian with pseudo credentials, pseudo character, and pseudo integrity, and a con artist employed at the expense of Nigerian tax payers to trick and scam Nigerians.
Who should be ashamed?
Sowore or Okupe? Okupe is one of the vilest corrupt criminals often the recipient of gifts and attentions as if he had attained an enviable distinctions.
A man whose character and crimes cry for trial, Okupe is a shameless propagandist who profits from fabricating and hawking lies and other unpardonable deceitful wares.
Who is a liar?
Sowore or Okupe? The records show that each time Okupe opens his mouth, he oozes out a bagful of lies. We don’t need to go into details. We know the stock in trade of propagandists.
It is only in Nigeria that a person like Okupe with retarded morals and ethics will call Sowore “a huge joke, a liar, a man without reputation, who collects money and say anything to destroy people.”
Okupe knows he can increase his popularity as Jonathan’s spokesman by being false to his creed, and appealing to hatreds that have nothing to do with criticisms levied against him by Sowore.
Okupe’s only ultimate protection against his critics lies in misguided hatreds and lies which form the nucleus of his propagandist army. We see Okupe from time to time devoting our valuable resources to his propagandist army to the fostering of unreason.
Since he took over as the Attack Lion-in-Chief of Aso Rock Propagandist Army, he has demonstrated with passion and unreasoning emotion that planting and fertilizing of lies can always be better done by charlatans.
Nigeria has become a horde of robbers and assassins. Peace, rest, and happiness have been banished from the nation. Courts of justice are corrupt. Rulers are actuated by desire for gain and love of sensual pleasure.
Intemperance has beclouded the faculties of the people in power so that Satan has almost complete control of them. Jurists are perverted, bribed, and deluded. Dishonesty of every sort is represented among those who administer the laws.
Okupe in his warped wisdom excused Jonathan’s administration horrible cruelty as a result of the criticisms, scrutiny, and relentless pounding of the administration for corruption. He believes the criticisms are based on sentiments.
Dr. Okupe, have you ever at any time in your life been detained by the toothless and gum less EFCC? Yes or No? If the answer is yes, then what part of the corruption allegations preferred against you by Sowore don’t you understand?
Dr. Okupe, what happened to the N886 million road contracts awarded to you? Where is the money? Where is the proof of the road constructed by your phony construction company?
What part of your reputation if any, has Sowore damaged or disfigured?
The moral darkness espoused by you and your likes in the Jonathan’s administration favor the spread of superstitions, oppression, and increasing liberality in the revival of tyranny and corruption.
The infatuation of vice, the wanton taking of life, the terrible increase of evil and iniquity of every order and degree, should arouse all who fear God to inquire what can be done to stay the tide of evil in our dear country.
Needless to remind Dr. Okupe, brilliance of style in propaganda is not necessarily an index of pure, elevated thought. Through the mammoth system of deception by Aso Rock under your direct supervision, you have brought dishonor and wretchedness to Nigerians.
We cannot keep quiet while we watch the slow motion catastrophe in our country unfolding before our eyes. We’ll continue to criticize, scrutinize Jonathan’s administration filthy ideas and rich load of corruption cases.  History is on our side!
*** A wise person will desire no more than he or she may get justly, use soberly, distribute cheerfully, and leave contentedly.

Welcome to Naija Gist: WHO fears new virus spread, at least 18 deaths

Welcome to Naija Gist: WHO fears new virus spread, at least 18 deaths: WHO fears new virus spread, at least 18 deaths ...

WHO fears new virus spread, at least 18 deaths

Breaking News: WHO fears new virus spread, at least 18 deaths

The World Health Organization says it fears a coronavirus that has killed at least 18 people is spreading from Europe to the Middle East to Asia. The BBC says since last year there have been 33 confirmed cases with 18.

Slices of Raspberry Pi: Hacking the world's chea

The Raspberry Pi has been shortlisted for the London Design Museum's <a href='' target='_blank'>"Designs of the Year"</a> awards, with judges citing its affordability, power and accessibility to children. An exhibition accompanying the awards is showing off some of the creative uses of the hugely popular personal computer. The Raspberry Pi has been shortlisted for the London Design Museum's "Designs of the Year" awards, with judges citing its affordability, power and accessibility to children. An exhibition accompanying the awards is showing off some of the creative uses of the hugely popular personal computer.

Described by its creator, University of Cambridge professor Eben Upton as "an attempt to try and reboot some of that 1980s computer industry feel," the technology has been embraced by creative hackers worldwide and put to use in home weather stations to hot air balloon tracking and camera systems.

"Too many people simply have no idea what goes on inside (computers). Inventions like the Raspberry Pi really help to change that
Alyssa Dayan, co-inventor of AirPi home weather surveillance station
The RPi has been shortlisted in London's Design Museum "Designs of the Year" awards, with judges citing its affordability, power and accessibility to children. As part of the exhibition accompanying the prizes, examples of creative uses of RPi are on display at the museum until July 7.
They include a stylish, personalized train departure board created by Gareth James of Hove, UK, which provides the times of the next trains to Brighton.
"It's great to have a dedicated piece of connected hardware that looks nice and sits and waits to be useful," he said. "Whenever I'm thinking of leaving the house I can easily check the next train time. Plus, it looks good on the wall... No longer do I end up hanging around on the cold train platform."

Alyssa Dayan and Tom Hartley created AirPi, an air quality and weather surveillance station that uses RPi to take readings from an array of sensors, translating the data into meaningful information and uploading it on to the internet. The project cost only £55 on top of the cost of the RPi.
Dayan said the team had designed the device and set up a website "not only to take our own air quality and weather readings but to encourage and teach others to do the same -- and hopefully eventually create a network of measurements coming in from across the world."
She said one of the key benefits of RPi was the ease with which components could be added to the board, which, combined with its cost, made it a great entry point to introduce children to electronics.
"I think the user-friendliness of computers has gotten to the extent that far too many people simply have no idea what goes on inside them," she said. "Inventions like the Raspberry Pi really help to change that."
A team from PA Consulting Group created a private cell phone network by connecting the RPi to a radio interface.
"We've shrunk a 30-foot base station into a three-inch Raspberry Pi and created our own mobile phone network," said PA's Frazer Bennett. "This proves what can be achieved through low-cost off the shelf-systems."

In a more playful spirit, Tom Rees created a car out of Lego that is controlled using the console from a gaming system.
It is easier than ever to have your computer control your house, move a robotic arm, turn a wheel, read the temperature, or speak your weight. The sky is the limit
RPi enthusiast Tom Rees
"It is easier than ever (and less scary than ever) to have your computer control your house, move a robotic arm, turn a wheel, read the temperature, or speak your weight," he said. "The sky is the limit."
High-altitude ballooning enthusiast David Akerman can attest to that. He's using RPi to track and transmit photographs from his unmanned balloon flights, which have ascended 40.5 kilometers (25.2 miles) into near space with a camera.
"The Pi has plenty of memory and processor power, meaning that it can take several photographs and then send the best image to transmit," he said.
"Balloon payloads swing and rotate a lot and many of the images will be directly at the sun or the black sky, and my software rejects all of those."
Akerman, whose RPi invention isn't included in the design Museum exhibition, is tinkering on improvements that will allow him to send better and larger images from the flight, and is optimistic of besting his highest altitude on the next flight. "I'm hoping to fly this in the next few weeks," he said.

Several people shot, including a 10-year-old at Mother's Day Parade

Breaking News: Several people shot, including a 10-year-old at Mother's Day Parade

New Orleans 

Seems the gun madness never stops and in the latest casualty, several people, including a ten-year-old girl were reportedly shot at a Mother’s Day Parade in New Orléans Sunday. According to several news reports, including Reuters, police have confirmed that...

Welcome to Naija Gist: Glorious colors in the desert

Welcome to Naija Gist: Glorious colors in the desert: Glorious colors in the desert: Darfur's fashionable women The Darfur Sartorialist. PEDRO MATOS This gave birth to The Darfu...

Welcome to Naija Gist: Today in History on This Day in History

Welcome to Naija Gist: Today in History on This Day in History: Today in History on This Day in History 535 - St Agapitus I begins his reign as Catholic Pope 609 - Pope Boniface I turns Pantheon in...

Welcome to Naija Gist: Welcome to Naija Gist: Latest African gold rush

Welcome to Naija Gist: Welcome to Naija Gist: Latest African gold rush: Welcome to Naija Gist: Latest African gold rush : Latest African gold rush International hotel operators are sidestepping infrastr...

Glorious colors in the desert

Glorious colors in the desert: Darfur's fashionable women

The Darfur Sartorialist.
This gave birth to The Darfur Sartorialist, a project aiming to show to the world a different reality of this remote part in Sudan, beyond the usual narrative of suffering and violence.
"The news we usually get about Darfur -- the war, the oppression, the camps -- exists but that is not the only story," says Matos. "I hope the project can make people question the reality we see."
CNN's Inside Africa spoke to Matos, who is now based in Kenya, about fashion in Darfur and his project's goals.
Pedro Matos
Pedro Matos
CNN: How you'd describe the way these women are dressed in a few words?
PM: Colorful -- amidst these deserted landscapes, people dress in incredible colors; unique -- it's extremely difficult to find two women with the same clothes; proud -- there is a pride in the dressing which goes a bit against to what I was expecting to be a conservative way of dressing; fashionable -- a lot of the clothing is traditionally Sudanese but some is also influenced by the Middle East.
The traditional Sudanese clothing is the toub -- many meters of cloth that's wrapped around the body and head. Because it often falls off, they have to wear something underneath so that the skin doesn't get exposed. Those combinations are often unique; their undergarment would often be a patterned shirt and trousers, and with the toub, combinations are extremely varied.
The Darfur Sartorialist.
But on top of that, you have all the influence that comes from the Sudanese diaspora, the soap operas and all the films from the Middle East where women often dress a bit more Westernized; they have dresses, trousers, denim jackets and skirts, so you have a combination of all these things and it's extremely difficult to find two women dressed the same.
The variety is something that surprised me; in the West we often have these fashionable dark colors and because there are all these franchise stores, you get to see people dressed pretty much in the same way. But in Sudan, they're so varied.
The Darfur Sartorialist.
CNN: How easy was it taking pictures? Were there any security concerns?
PM: Sudan has been in the spotlight for human rights issues for a long time, so they're extremely suspicious of foreigners going around taking photos. But after working side by side for so long with the security services, they eventually ended up trusting me and I was allowed to take pictures.
Africa's feathered fashion export
Traditional dress of Senegal
CNN: Did women want to be photographed?
PM: That is quite interesting, because Sudan is a society where women are expected to behave conservatively and refuse photographs. So, when I'd take their pictures, they would often refuse if they don't know me. But if I'm taking [pictures] of children, then the women would say, "OK, you can take photographs of us too." My colleagues and the IDPs didn't have a problem because they knew me; actually, they were quite happy and honored and flattered that a foreigner would be so interested in their clothing.
CNN: What has been the feedback you've received?
PM: Most people in the West are extremely surprised and most people in Sudan are quite happy that someone is covering Sudan in such way, with many smiles, and proud, fashionable people.
But what I'm mostly interested about is to have people in the West -- those who know very little about Darfur, other than the stories of war and kidnapping -- understand that beyond the society we see in the news, it feels perfectly normal and conceivable that alongside war and oppression there are people who live their own lives and have aspirations which are not that different from ours

Welcome to Naija Gist: Latest African gold rush

Welcome to Naija Gist: Latest African gold rush: Latest African gold rush International hotel operators are sidestepping infrastructure and bureaucratic hurdles to expanding thei...

Welcome to Naija Gist: 10 things to know before visiting Morocco

Welcome to Naija Gist: 10 things to know before visiting Morocco: 10 things to know before visiting Morocco Add to this a program of ongoing social, political and economic reforms, and Morocco is on...

Latest African gold rush

Latest African gold rush

International hotel operators are sidestepping infrastructure and bureaucratic hurdles to expanding their footprint across Africa. International hotel operators are sidestepping infrastructure and bureaucratic hurdles to expanding their footprint across Africa.
Major international hotel chains are increasingly rolling out thousands of new rooms in Africa's business hotspots, keen to expand their footprint on the continent's burgeoning economies.
From Lagos and Kigali to Nairobi and Johannesburg, the world's best known hoteliers are targeting Africa's growing urban centers to benefit from a rising number of business travelers and a huge undersupply in available rooms.
"There's a growing demand in those capital cities because they are the centers of business, of government and of commerce -- all of which have hospitality needs," says Patrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice president of development for Hilton Worldwide, Europe and Africa.
"We have a very bullish feel for these markets and we are very excited about the opportunity Africa presents," he adds. "I think that for the next 20 years we are going to have our hands full with opportunity."
For the next 20 years we are going to have our hands full with opportunity.
Patrick Fitzgibbon, Hilton
'World woken up to Africa'
Last month, the International Monetary Fund said that sub-Saharan Africa's economy is expected to expand by 5.6% in 2013 and 6.1% next year, outpacing the global average of 3.3% and 4% in accordance.
Andrew McLachlan, Carlson Rezidor Vice President for Africa and Indian Ocean Islands, says it is Africa's potential to offset the sluggishness in more developed markets that's appealing to global players.
"What has really happened is that post the economic crash in 2008/2009, the rest of the world has really woken up to Africa," says McLachlan.
"There's been such good news coming out of Africa from a GDP growth point of view; better telecommunications; improved security; political stability; and improved airlift," he adds. "It's really become a sort of new scramble back into Africa."
Meanwhile, international tourism arrivals in the continent grew by 6% last year to reach a record 52 million, according to data by the World Tourism Organization.
And whilst both international and intra-regional travel are on the up, partly thanks to Africa's natural resources boom, a shortage of rooms is prompting hoteliers to turn their attention to a continent ignored for decades.
Business travel
According to a recent survey by Lagos-based consultancy W Hospitality Group, some 40,000 new rooms in 207 hotels are planned in the continent's under-served cities, up almost one third compared to 2011.
Hilton, which operates nearly 11,000 rooms in 37 properties in Africa, says it has some 5,200 rooms and 17 hotels in the pipeline across the continent. Carlson Rezidor, which recently opened a Radisson Blu in Port Harcourt, its eighth hotel in Nigeria and 49th in the continent, is targeting 12 new hotel deals this year. French group Accor, owner of the Novotel and Ibis brands, has some 5,000 rooms in the pipeline, according to the W Hospitality survey.
"The vast majority of those hotels are business-oriented," explains Trevor Ward, managing director of W Hospitality. "If you look at where those hotel chains are primarily going, it's the capital cities or the major commercial cities of Africa where the business traveler is going," he adds.
What's driving us is genuine trade and business in the continent.
Ewan Cameron, Lonrho
Yet, it's not only the brands at the higher ends of the market that are keen to tap Africa's promise. In late March, pan-African conglomerate Lonrho teamed up with Stelios Haji-Ioannou's easyGroup to open their first Africa-based low budget hotel in Johannesburg's central business district.
Ewan Cameron, chief executive of Lonrho Hotels, says the company plans to roll out 50 easyHotel units by 2016 in the continent's high-growth destinations to cater to the needs of African business travelers.
"What's driving us is genuine trade and business in the continent," explains Cameron. "If you're going to a city center like Nairobi, we want to be where the taxi rank is; where the market is -- unlike the competition who want to be, if you like, in the beautiful parts of the city," he adds. "We will sacrifice this for economic drivers -- we want the trade and we want to be where you want to do business."
'Real challenges'
Still, international hoteliers have to overcome several infrastructure and logistics obstacles in their bid to plant their flags across the continent.
Cameron says hotels often have to be self-sustained, depending on satellite connectivity for fast wi-fi and generators for back up power, as well as having to provide their own clean water. "These are real challenges for us today," he says.
Analysts also say that companies can face big delays during the construction process due to poor workmanship and a shortage of professional skills. Bureaucracy and corruption can often be a problem too, especially when it comes to importing materials that are not available locally.
Quick returns
Yet, despite these hurdles, hotel groups remain very positive about their future in Africa as the continued rise in demand and undersupply in hotel rooms offer strong occupancy rates and high profitability margins in short periods of time.
"These challenges we face, we quickly forget about them the day the hotel opens," says McLachlan. "Normally, we would say the hotel takes 1,000 days from the day it opens to stabilize but in a lot of these African markets it can take a couple of months to stabilize because of the high demand for hotels."
Fitzgibbon agrees. "It's fascinating when you look at the change and opportunity on the continent and just what it represents," he says

10 things to know before visiting Morocco

10 things to know before visiting Morocco

Add to this a program of ongoing social, political and economic reforms, and Morocco is one of the most moderate and peaceful countries in the region.
Cafes dominate life in Tangier
Cafes are the key place to socialize, for Moroccan men at least. They gather to drink sweet mint tea and watch people as they go about their affairs.
The northern port city of Tangier has a history of literary bohemianism and illicit goings-on, thanks to its status as an International Zone from 1923 to 1956.
The Interzone years, and the heady decades that followed, saw writers, rock stars and eccentrics flock to the city's 800-plus cafés.
Two must-visit spots: Cafe Hafa (Ave Hadi Mohammed Tazi), overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar, was a favorite hangout of Tangier's most famous expat, Beat writer Paul Bowles.
Smoky and slightly edgy, Cafe Baba (1 rue Sidi-Hosni) is the coolest spot in the Kasbah. A photo of Keith Richards, kif-pipe in hand, still adorns the grimy walls.
Most mosques are off-limits to non-Muslims
Nearly 99% of the population is Muslim, and hearing the muezzin's melodic call to prayer for the first time is a spine-tingling moment.
While very few Moroccan mosques are open to non-Muslims, one exception is the towering Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca (Blvd Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah; +212 522 22 25 63).
Located on a promontory over the Atlantic Ocean, the mosque was completed in 1993 and can hold 105,000 worshipers inside and out.
Tradition and technology sit side by side, with colorful zellij (mosaic tiles), intricate stucco and carved cedar complementing the retractable roof and heated flooring.
If you can't make it to Casa, Marrakech's 16th-century Ali ben Youssef madrassa-turned-museum (Pl Ben Youssef; +212 524 44 18 93) is open to all and also features impressive Islamic design.
Multilingual Moroccans will put you to shame
Arabic is the official language, but you\'ll also hear French, Spanish, Berber and various dialects.
Arabic is the official language, but you'll also hear French, Spanish, Berber and various dialects.
Moroccans switch languages mid-sentence, reflecting the cultures -- Berber, Arab, French and Spanish -- that have crisscrossed the country.
Arabic is the official language, and you'll hear the Moroccan dialect, Darija, spoken on the street.
French continues to be widely spoken in cities; foreigners are often addressed in this first. Spanish is still spoken in Tangier.
There are also three main dialects spoken by the country's Berber majority: Tashelhit, Tamazight and Tarifit.
You'll be able to get by with English in the main tourist hubs, although "La, shukran" ("No, thank you" in Arabic) is one phrase to master.
Don't get stuck in Marrakech
Marrakech is justifiably popular, but there's so much more.
Fez tops the list for its maze-like medina, fabulous foodie scene and annual Festival of World Sacred Music.
For a slice of the Sahara, there's the desert town of Merzouga, near the impressive Erg Chebbi sand dunes, accessible via camel treks.
Active types can hike between Berber villages in the High Atlas or head to the blue-hued Andalusian town of Chefchaouen to explore the Rif Mountains.
Beach bums will love laid-back Essaouira and Sidi Ifni on the Atlantic coast, while surfers often head south to Taghazout.
For quiet contemplation, Morocco's holiest town, Moulay Idriss, is hard to beat. Plus, you'll have the nearby Roman ruins of Volubilis pretty much to yourself.
If you don't like cumin, you may starve
Cumin is one of the main spices used in Moroccan cooking. This pungent powder is used to flavor everything from tagines to mechoui (slow-roasted lamb).
Cumin is used as a condiment on most Moroccan tables, along with salt and chili. It's also a popular natural remedy for diarrhea.
"Cumin has anti-parasitical properties, so if you've got an upset tummy, a spoonful of cumin knocked back with water will help," said food guide Gail Leonard with Plan-It Fez.
Trains are cheap, comfortable and reliable
First class train travel in Morocco is affordable and worth it. Just be prepared to share your food.
First class train travel in Morocco is affordable and worth it. Just be prepared to share your food.
Train company ONCF operates one of the best train networks in Africa, making it the easiest way to travel between cities.
It's worth paying extra for first class, which comes with a reserved seat and A/C.
First class carriages have six-seat compartments or open-plan seating. Stock up on snacks, or buy them onboard, as it's customary to share food.
When it comes to traveling to smaller towns and villages, buses and grand taxis, usually old Mercedes sedans that can seat six (at a squash), are best.
Couscous is served on Fridays
You'll see it on every restaurant menu, but traditionally, couscous is served on Fridays, when families gather after prayers.
This is because the proper (not packet) stuff takes a long time to prepare.
Coarse semolina is hand-rolled into small granules to be steamed and fluffed three times. It's pale in color, deliciously creamy and served with vegetables and/or meat or fish.
Bread is the staple carb and is served with every meal, except couscous.
It's baked in communal wood-fired ovens, one of five amenities found in every neighborhood (the others being a hammam, or bathhouse; a drinking fountain; a mosque and a preschool).
Riad rooftops rock
The traditional Moroccan house (riad) is built around a central courtyard with windows facing inwards for privacy.
They're decked out with elaborate zellij, stucco and painted cedar and are easily the most atmospheric places to stay.
While Moroccans tend to use their rooftops as clotheslines, a riad roof terrace is the place to be come sunset.

When you hear 'balak!' watch out
The narrow streets of Morocco\'s souks are filled with hagglers, hustlers, mule-drivers and motor scooters.
The narrow streets of Morocco's souks are filled with hagglers, hustlers, mule-drivers and motor scooters.
Morocco's souks are not for the faint-hearted. The narrow streets teem with hagglers, hustlers, mule-drivers and motor scooters.
Rule No. 1 is to step aside when you hear "Balak!" It means there's a heavily laden handcart or mule bearing down on you.
You'll inevitably get lost, as maps don't usually include the warren of small alleys that make up the medina.
A guide can help you get your bearings and fend off touts, but be aware that anything you buy will have his commission built in to the price.
Alternatively, taking snaps of landmarks with your smartphone can help you find your way back to your accommodation.
It's not weird to be bathed by a stranger
There are plenty of posh hotel hammams, but nothing beats a visit to a no-frills public bathhouse.
Spotting the entrance can be tricky, as most signs are written in Arabic. Look for a shop selling toiletries or a mosque, as these are usually nearby.
It's advisable to stock up on black olive oil soap, ghassoul (clay used as hair conditioner), a kiis (exfoliating glove) and a mat to sit on. Visitors need to take their own towels, comb and flip-flops.
Women strip to their knickers (no bra), and men wear underpants. Then you'll be steamed, scrubbed and pummeled until you're squeaky clean.

Today in History on This Day in History

Today in History on This Day in History

535 - St Agapitus I begins his reign as Catholic Pope
609 - Pope Boniface I turns Pantheon in Rome into a Catholic church
641 - Eligius (Saint Eloy) becomes bishop of Doornik-Noyon
1106 - Henry I of Limburg becomes duke of Neth-Lutherans
1110 - Crusaders march into Beirut causing a bloodbath
1364 - Peter Coutherel banished from Leuven
1497 - Pope Alexander VI excommunicates Girolamo Savonarola
1559 - Excavated corpse of heretic David Jorisz burned in Basel
1568 - Mary Queen of Scots is defeated by English at battle of Langside
1588 - King Henri III flees Paris
1607 - English colonists (John Smith) lands near James River in VA
1624 - Admiral Hermites fleet blockade Lima Peru
1637 - Cardinal Richelieu of France creates the table knife
1643 - Battle at Grantham: English parliamentary armies beat royalists
1643 - Heavy earthquake strikes Santiago Chile; kills 1/3 of population

Famous Birthdays

Born Today

Singer-Songwriter Singer-Songwriter Stevie Wonder (1950)
Birthdays 1 - 15 of 250
1024 - Hugh of Cluny, French saint (d. 1109)
1254 - Maria of Brabant, queen of France (d. 1321)
1314 - Sergius of Radonesh, Russian saint
1588 - Ole Worm, Danish physician (d. 1654)
1592 - John Cloppenburg, vicar/theologist
1638 - Richard Simon, French Biblical critic (d. 1712)
1655 - Innocent XIII, [Michelangiolo dei Conti], Italy, 244th Pope (1721-24)
1699 - Marquis of Pombal, Prime Minister of Portugal (d. 1782)
1707 - Carl von Linné, Swedish scientist (d. 1778)
1712 - Johann Hartwig Ernst, Count von Bernstorff, Danish statesman (d. 1772)
1717 - Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria (Wife of emperor Franz I)
1729 - Henry William (Baron) Stiegel, early American glassmaker
1730 - Charles Watson-Wentworth 2nd Marquis of Rockingham, British PM (1765-66, 1782) and Whig
1735 - Horace Coignet, composer
1742 - Archduchess Maria Christina, Duchess of Teschen (d. 1798)

Famous Weddings

Weddings 1 - 5 of 5
1922 - "Latin Lover" silent actor Rudolph Valentino (27) weds film costume and set designer Natacha Rambova (25) in Mexicali, Mexico
1932 - Russian composer Dmitri Sjostakovitch marries Nina Varsar
2003 - Former NBA star Dennis Rodman (42) weds Michelle Moyer on a small civil ceremony in Newport Beach, California
2006 - Actress Sara Bakker weds Sloan Alexander at the United Church on the Green in New Haven, Connecticut
2006 - British football star player Gary O'Neil (22) weds Donna Guerin in Highclere Castle, Hampshire

Famous Deaths

Passed Away Today

Arctic explorer/Nobel Laureate Arctic explorer/Nobel Laureate Fridtjof Nansen (1930)
Deaths 1 - 15 of 97
384 - Servatius/Aravatius, bishop of Tongeren, dies at 65+
1162 - Géza II of Hungary
1176 - Matthias I, Duke of Lorraine (b. 1119)
1312 - Theobald II, Duke of Lorraine (b. 1263)
1381 - John of Chatillon, governor/viceroy of Holland, dies
1390 - Robert II the Steward, King of Scots (1371-90), dies
1573 - Takeda Shingen, Japanese warlord (b. 1521)
1619 - Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, lands advocate, beheaded
1704 - Louis Bourdaloue, French Jesuit preacher (b. 1632)
1732 - Theodor Schwartzkopff, composer, dies at 72
1742 - Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt (b. 1719)
1776 - Anton de Haen, medical Ratio medendi, dies at 71
1787 - Johann Michael Malzat, composer, dies at 38
1793 - Martin Gerbert, composer, dies at 72
1807 - Eliphalet Dyer, American statesman and judge (b. 1721)

Welcome to Naija Gist: Our Nigerian ID to Double as Bank Card

Welcome to Naija Gist: Our Nigerian ID to Double as Bank Card: Nigeria's new national ID card which will function both as a national ID and as a bank card. Nigerian government has announced a propo...

Our Nigerian ID to Double as Bank Card

Nigeria's new national ID card which will function both as a national ID and as a bank card.
Our Nigerian ID to Double as Bank Card?
Nigerian government has announced a proposed Mastercard-branded National Identity smart cards with electronic payment capability, the Guardian reported.
The issuance will start within the next three months under the auspices of the National Identity Management Commission and will cover citizens aged 16 and above.
Pensioners will be the first group to pilot the new scheme. The plan will create the largest rollout of an electronic payment solution of its kind at once, to an unbanked population.
Only 30 per cent of an estimated 160m Nigerians have access to financial services and with these cards, the other 70 per cent will be brought into formal financial system.
The country has focused on improving access, the usage and quality of financial services in the program. Personal data, including biometric data will remain with the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Kenya, under the Jubilee Manifesto, has proposed to establish a universal single registration system activated at birth which will streamline birth registration, National ID registration, voter registration, NHIF, NSSF, and any other tax or commercial related registration. Whereas not conceptualized to including payments, it seems likely to be able to include the service

Jay-Z’s Second Copy Spotted

A photo of man bearing a striking resemblance to Jay-Z has surfaced, and if it wasn't for the fact that it was taken in 1939, you'd swear it was JayZ himself.
The photo is “Harlem Loiterers” by the street photographer Sid Grossman and it was stumbled across recently by a curator at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research In Black Culture.

And the New York Public Library swears, the old photo of the guy who looks scarily like Jay-Z really is an unretouched, un-Photoshopped image from 1939.
“We’re 100 percent certain it’s legitimate,” Adenike Olanrewaju, a library spokeswoman, said on Friday.
Since the photo hit the internet, different conspiracy, theories bordering on Jay-Z re-incarnating has spread on the internet.

The man in the picture is staring down the camera lens with a distinct sense of attitude and intent. Best of all, the man from the past has exactly the same poise and swagger as our very own present day JayZ.
On account of Jay-Z being 43 years old, the man in the photo is of course not him. Or what do you think?

Welcome to Naija Gist: PICTURES OF CHINEES FOOD - Wet your lips

Welcome to Naija Gist: PICTURES OF CHINEES FOOD - Wet your lips: ...