Monday, July 28, 2014

AFRICA IN FOCUS >> Coming up on 29 July, 2014: "Understanding the Forestry Sector in Ghana & Africa; and EcoTourism"

The Forestry sector is not necessarily a topic that elicits much excitement in general discourse of a country’s development. Compared to other sectors like international trade; FDI; labour issues; and education, one could be forgiven for thinking the latter elements are all that a country needs for its development.

But even if we were to forget the very important impact of climate change on our environment in general, and our forests in particular, none of us can ever forget the essence of forests to any country’s development. For some African countries, forests are a luxury, but in countries like Ghana, Kenya; and Rwanda, they are considered very important sectors. It is not only about the way in which they offer the potential of green belts for the countries. It is also about how forests offer climate regulation; water; and natural hazard prevention.

Let’s put it this way: consider a country without forests. One study in Kenya, for example, showed that deforestation causes a severe blow to its economy: in 2010, the total net cumulative effect of deforestation was a loss of nearly US$19 million, which had a huge multiplier effect on the rest of the economy. It further affects Kenya’s water yield and water-dependent sectors, as well as a range of other economic sectors, such as agric; forestry; and fishing; electricity and water; hotels and accommodation; and the public administration and defence sectors. Altogether, these contributed between 33-39% to GDP between 2000 and 2010.

There is no gainsaying that the link between a sustainable environment (where trees and forests abound) and Eco-tourism is clear. Add to this the claim by Forestwatch, a civil society organization working within the forestry sector, that Ghana has some of the most antiquated laws (some dating as far back as the 19th century!), and one begins to wonder how Ghana can counter this perfect storm of challenges to developing tourism to the potential that countries like Kenya and Rwanda have been able to.

With the AU having signed an MOU with the UN World Tourism Organisation a few weeks ago to help use tourism to eradicate poverty in Africa, we will use the 11th edition of AIF to interrogate the extent to which Africa can overcome its developmental challenges using best practices from selected countries on facilitating tourism that includes a recognition of improved sanitation and a sustainable environment.

To this end, we will be speaking to a representative from CSO working in the sector; representatives from the Forestry Commissions of Ghana; Kenya; and Rwanda; and speaking to a representative from a Ghanaian-based travel and tour company on what Ghana ought to do to take Ghana’s tourism potential to the heights that East African countries in Kenya and Rwanda have been able to do.

Guests in the studio:
Ø  Kwame Mensah, ForestWatch
Ø  Francis Agyemang, Commercial Director, Eurotours
Ø  Reverend David Kpelle, Manager of Commercial Development Unit/ Coordinator in charge of EcoPark Development Unit. Forestry Commission, Ghana

On the line:
Ø  Samuel Mawutor, ForestWatch/Civic Response  @ 13h50
Ø  Charity Muthonin, Kenya Forestry Service  @ 14h10
Ø  Telesphore Ngoga, Rwanda Development Board @ 14h30

Tune in at 13h10 GMT (1:00pm Ghana Time). We’re also streaming live

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