Despite its many natural resources and attractive features, Africa will continue to get raw deals when it comes to global tourism, President Jakaya Kikwete stated.
Currently the total tourists’ arrivals worldwide stand at 900 million but Africa is getting a measly 43 million visitors,” said President Kikwete who is also the current chairman of the African Union.
Speaking during the 8th Leon H. Sullivan Summit that took place in Arusha on June 2 – 6, President Kikwete pointed out that the global tourists’ traffic would grow to 1 billion by 2010 and Africa would just manage to get 47 million arrivals by then.
Twelve years from now, according to the President, Africa is focused to record 77 million tourists arrivals on the continent but during that time the global tourism industry would have grown to hit the 1.6 billion figures as projected for year 2020.
The ‘Summit of a lifetime,’ was aimed at boosting tourism, trade and investment in the continent. “The reason why we chose Arusha to host the event is the fact that, the region happens to be the hub of Tanzania’s tourism industry,” stated Kikwete.
On the other hand, underdeveloped infrastructures, according to Kikwete have not only affected the tourism sector but have also driven wedges between rural areas and urban centers, cut off communications between countries and rendered difficult the transportation of commodities from one point to another, precisely moving farms goods to the available markets.
Impeded infrastructural development remains a major stumbling block hindering advancement in both trade and unification of the African continent, said President Kikwete.
Some visitors from Eritrea currently in Arusha have supported Kikwete's concerns explaining that to get to Arusha from Eritrea they first had to fly to Rome Italy and connect flight from there. "Africa is extremely divided by poor communication," they said.
"Without properly established infrastructures even trading activities will made impossible," stated the President who had earlier on stated that Tanzania's hosting the Sullivan Summit should be regarded as triumph for the entire East African region.
Slow distribution of electricity services in Africa was also a major concern to Kikwete who expressed concern on the fact that, electricity consumption per capita in Tanzania was only 62 kilowatts compared to the United States where the electricity per capita currently stands at 13,629 kilowatts on average.
President Kikwete has also appealed to the United States to assist Tanzania in education. "We have dire shortage of teachers especially science teachers," he said, "In fact it was one the issues we discussed with the US president, George W. Bush when he visited the country last February.
The President requested the US Diaspora to come and rescue the situation as volunteers, investors and where possible as sponsors to enable Tanzanian students to get education in America.
On his welcoming speech, the American envoy to Tanzania, Ambassador Mark Green reminded the Sullivan delegates that it was high time they helped create major positive changes for Africa. "People want to know that you care, before they care that you know!" he pointed out.
Civil and Human Rights activist, Rev. Jesse Jackson Senior who was among the dignitaries at the Sullivan Summit assured his African brethren that there was still hope and that they; "should keep hope alive!"
The Chairman of Sullivan Foundation Andrew Young told the delegates that Africa so far has almost the best of everything found on the globe and all is needed now was proper strategy in making use of the abundant resources found on the continent.
Nigerian president Olusegen Obasanjo added that Tanzania was the most blessed of all African states. "Anything that you put in the Tanzanian soil will grow," he said.
Close to 3000 delegates, mostly US based Diasporas attended the 8th Leon H. Sullivan Summit held at the Simba Plenary Hall of Arusha International Conference Center.