Monthly Archives: March 2016

New Dates For AHIF In Togo: 21-22 June

The new dates for the Africa Hotel Investment Forum in Togo have been announced and the event will now take place on 21-22 June 2016.

The conference, which was scheduled for April, had to be postponed due to last-minute delays with the new flagship Radisson Blu Hotel du 2 Février in Lomé – a prestigious, 320-room complex with two auditoriums, business centre, swimming pool, tennis courts and casino.

Delegates who had booked to attend the April event are being offered free accommodation in June by the hotel’s developer Kalyan Hospitality Development to cover their inconvenience.

Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events which organises AHIF, said: “Our AHIF conferences bring together major international investors, business leaders, government ministers and top officials from across Africa. Looking ahead to June, we are confident that delegates will enjoy a busy and stimulating conference programme at this, a pivotal time for Togo, as it continues to develop as a strategic investment destination for business and tourism.

“It is disappointing that we had to postpone the April conference and we are very keen to ensure that no one is out of pocket. We welcome the swift response from Ashok Gupta, Managing Director & CEO Kalyan Hospitality Development Togo who has ensured that delegates already booked will be given their accommodation gratis at the rescheduled event.

AHIF is the premier hotel investment conference in Africa, attracting many prominent international hotel owners, investors, financiers, management companies and their advisers. It is organised by Bench Events [www.benchevents.com], which is known for producing, alongside Questex Travel + Hospitality and MEED Events, several top-level hotel conferences around the world including Berlin [IHIF], Dubai [AHIC], Istanbul [CATHIC] and Moscow [RHIC].

Sponsors of AHIF Togo 2016 are: Host Partners: Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Private Sector Promotion and Tourism of Togo and Group Kalyan; Platinum sponsors: AccorHotels; Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Hilton Worldwide, Marriott Hotels International and Rwanda Development Board; Gold Sponsors: Areen Hospitality Interior Design; Colliers.

International, DEG; France Kitchen; Horwath HTL; Hotel Partners Africa; HVS; Hyatt; JLL; Kempinski Hotels; Kinza Yapi; Louvre Hotels Group; Onlime Business Communications; Source Interior Brand Architecture; Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc.; STR Global; Swiss Education Group and Wyndham Hotel Group.

ASKY Airlines are the official Airline Partner of AHIF Togo 2016.

TB Joshua Ranked Among Most Famous Prophets In History

Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, Founder and General Overseer of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, [SCOAN] has been ranked as one of the most famous prophets in history by an American based website www.RANKER.com.

Ranker is a leading digital media company for opinion-based, crowdsourced rankings on just about everything.

According to information on www.ranker.com, it says “we put the power in the hands of our audience to answer debates on topics including pop culture, sports, politics, brands and lifestyle and sing Ranker’s unique technology, those lists become definitive rankings based on the “wisdom of the crowd.”

Based in Los Angeles with a sales office in New York, Ranker was founded in 2009 by CEO Clark Benson. AQuantcast Top 100 sites and attracts more than 20 million monthly unique visitors and is growing by more than 50 per cent year-over-year.

Ranker’s lists and opinion data are regularly cited in the media, including The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, Mashable, Huffington Post, The Hollywood Reporter, and USA Today, among many others. The company is VC-backed by Draper Associates, Rincon Ventures, Siemer / Wavemaker Ventures, Lowecase Capital, Bullpen Capital and various angels.

Temitope Balogun Joshua, commonly referred to as T. B. Joshua was born on June 12, 1963, a Christian minister, televangelist and faith healer. He is leader and founder of the ministry organisation The Synagogue, Church of All Nations, which runs a Christian television station called Emmanuel TV.

He has been awarded various accolades, notably receiving the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic [OFR] by the Nigerian Government in 2008 and was voted the Yoruba man of the decade by Pan-Yoruba media outlet Irohin-Odua.

He was recognised as one of Africa’s 50 most influential people by Pan-African magazines The Africa Report and New African Magazine and listed among the world’s most famous people by the website thefamouspeople.com.

Joshua is known for his popularity across Africa and his online presence, with 2,000,000 fans on Facebook and hundreds of YouTube videos and amassed millions of views.

According to Joshua’s official biography, unusual circumstances surrounded his birth. He says he spent 15 months in his mother’s womb and narrowly avoided death after a quarry explosion near his house sent rocks through its roof just seven days after his birth.

Joshua, then known as Balogun Francis attended St. Stephen’s Anglican Primary School in Arigidi-Akoko, Nigeria between 1971 and 1977 but failed to complete one year of secondary school education according to Wikipedia.

But in school, he was known as “small pastor” because of his love for the Bible. He worked in various casual jobs after his schooling had ended, including carrying chicken waste at a poultry farm.

He organised Bible studies for local children and attended evening school during this period. Joshua attempted to join the Nigerian military but was thwarted due to a train breakdown that left him stranded en route to the military academy.

Joshua wrote that in a heavenly vision, he had received divine anointing and a covenant from God to start his ministry.

Following that vision, Joshua founded the ministry organisation, The Synagogue, Church of All Nations [SCOAN] with only a handful of members.

According to the organisation, more than 15,000 members attend its weekly Sunday service; visitors from outside Nigeria are accommodated in the accommodation blocks constructed at the church before the recent incident that left several people dead.

The Guardian of London also recently reported that The SCOAN attracts more weekly attendees than the combined number of visitors to Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London.

The SCOAN’s popular services have also resulted in an enormous boost for local businesses and hoteliers and most visited destination by religious tourists in West Africa.

Despite Joshua’s popularity, the church only has a branch in Ghana, Joshua stating that “it is not yet time” for him to have branches worldwide as “it will be too much for my character”.

Several hundred Nigerians and international visitors come to the SCOAN each week to register for the prayer lines where the visitors are prayed over by Joshua. SCOAN has published numerous videos of healing of incurable disabilities and illnesses such as HIV/AIDS.

For the church, medical reports are a prerequisite for prayer for any health-related ailment in an attempt to authenticate the miracles.

Spiritual healing at The SCOAN has been the subject of several media reports, including a mention in Time Magazine, an Associated Press interview and an article by Foreign Policy detailing the proficiency of Nigerians to seek ‘spiritual’ help due to insufficient medical facilities.

Many have also claimed to be healed through ‘Anointing Water’ that has been prayed over by Joshua and given to those who are unable to physically attend his church in Lagos while many have also claimed they were protected from deadly incidents because they had the water with them.

Although Joshua rarely travels, he has held foreign crusades in Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and Colombia. His ‘Miracle Crusade’ in Cali, Colombia in July 2014 was allegedly attended by 100,000 people and held in the Estadio Olímpico Pascual Guerrero and another crusade in the Estadio Azteca in Mexico which was allegedly attended by 200,000 people over two days in May 2015.

Apart from the religious aspect of the church, humanitarian arm of SCOAN has been very active over the years, and there were reports that this humanitarian arm has donated money in order to help orphans and the destitute.

In 2009 it was reported that one widow received more than N500, 000.00 and in 2012, Joshua sponsored one Nigerian student doing a PhD in Oxford University with Nigerian media reporting the total given amounted to £100,000.

SCOAN has also established another NGO in Ghana called Passion for Needy and also donated generously to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake as well as team of medical personnel and humanitarian workers to the affected area, establishing a field hospital called ‘Clinique Emmanuel’ which he received a letter of appreciation from the United Nations for.

According to the media unit of the church, TB Joshua is the only one alive among the most famous prophets in history listed.

TATAFISH Restaurant Will Soon Be Household Name – Ogbonna

Henry Ogbonna, a product of the Nnamdi Azikwe University [UNIZIK] and by training a lawyer, is the owner of TATAFISH AFRICAN SEA FOOD RESTAURANT AND BAR. In this interview with Lucky Onoriode George, he bares his mind on the challenges he had to face before setting up his restaurant business, while being mindful of creating jobs for fish farmers, vegetable growers and other related supplies for his menu. Excerpts:

Why the name Tatafish?

The name TATAFISH was a combination of my concept then with fish being the king of sea food, and the name I call my fiancée then now my wife TATA because I am a typical local and traditional man.

For the fact that she was also the brain behind the recipes, I thought she deserves it. That was how Tatafish brand was born.

I started off with just N70.000.00 initial capital and before we realized it, people started coming and we suddenly became well known.

However, the enthusiasm and my efforts fell short, and we were forced to close shop due to economic reality at that time. During the close of shop though, I started sourcing for money, and when my father retired as an Assistant Commissioner of Police in 2007, he had to help me financially with some of his savings and gratuity as well as my mother and mother-in-law that came together to support me, and that was how I returned to business.

On December 21st, 2007, a new Tatafish reopened and it became a bang. Since then, we started introducing and expanding our menu-from pepper soup, to vegetable and several others.

As time went by, we incorporated the bar because of my Afrocentric thinking when I favoured open air restaurant and bar that is more suitable for our environment, unlike the west that indoor setting is more idea.

At What Time Did Tata Come Into Your Life?

Oh! We met during one of those my visits to see a friend in Asaba. Then, she was doing her service as a corps member at the government house in Asaba, and that was how faith brought us together.

When did expanding out of Owerri come to you?

It was a sad and an unfortunate event that led to that, but because the hand of the Lord was in the business and our movement out of Owerri was divine, I have no regret. In fact, people were collecting tickets to get their orders and we also pioneered viewing centre in Owerri which no doubt made us more popular.

Whilst the business grew and Tatafish became wll known, it also generated lots of envy or how else can one explain it, that mere allegation that my customers were obstructing traffic that caught up the convoy of the former state governor, Ikedi Ohakim and the following morning without any notice or warning, someone called me to tell me that my popular Tatafish thatched restaurant is being bulldozed.

Meanwhile, I had 25 year lease agreement with the former regime under Achike Udenwa and the place was still destroyed, so also was the 83 workers that lost their jobs.

With mixed feelings, I relocated from Owerri to Port Harcourt and in April 2011, Easter period; Tatafish was opened on Aba Road. Again in 2014, Tatafish opened another outlet in Calabar, Cross River State and come December this year, Tatafish franchise package will be ready.

We are also looking at the possible ways of enhancing our efficiency because our entire menu are A la Carte’ that their preparation can only be enhanced through technology, because most of the ingredients have to be pre-prepared and kept in refrigerator.

Also in the making is software to help us manage our accounting and human resource systems respectively because of the impending expansion.

How many branches do you have now?

At the moment, we have just Port Harcourt and Calabar. However, Port Harcourt is bigger because the demand for sea food and purchasing power in that city is also much higher as well as population wise.

Interestingly too, the bar in Calabar performs better than in Port Harcourt.

Where next are you targeting?

Certainly, it has to be Abuja or Lagos. However by April, I will decide where to go first because I have people doing research for me on both locations. Again, Abuja offers a great deal of interest because it’s closer to the ingredients like pepper, cabbage, onions and the rest.

However, Lagos is the market and I hope when we are opened, we should be able to have a package for N500.00 or a meal for N1, 000.00 because food is not supposed to be expensive.

Apart from initial financial challenges that you faced in the beginning, what else affected you?

Getting people with the right attitude was a difficult task. Another one is the issue of government policies.

How have you been coping with the many taxes?

My experience with the tax officials has not been very painful because we have been up-to date with our tax responsibility. To put it well, even the demon fears correctness and there was no room for extortion.

But as we are thinking of deploying more technology; such as cold room to store the ingredients, that would enable us to cut down waiting time while meals are being prepared, we are also anticipating more investment in that area.

Cross River is regarded as a tourism paradise of Nigeria, how has this impacted on your business?

Tatafish is in the heart of Calabar and I can tell you that we have the biggest crowed in the last two Carnival Calabar celebrations. We run almost 24 hrs daily because people stay here till 4 am and sometimes 5 am. They have been able to continuously do this because security here is fairly better than most parts that I have been in the country.

If you are to suggest anything to the government here, what would that be?

Let me say this, I have a package that is called Tatafish Self-Empowerment and Acquisition Programme Centre: It’s a Civic Skill Empowerment and Acquisition Programme [TATAFISH SEAP] which I will need a location from the government of Cross River State for its set up. When fully operational, people can come there and be trained on how to work in restaurant with the help of modern technology, as well as farming catfish, snails and their likes.

Tatafish will serves as sales outlet where produces from the farmers can be sold. The public can walk in and make direct purchases and through the above mentioned programme, several thousands of jobs can be created.

Presently, we motivate the fish farmers by asking them to call us whenever their fish is six months so that I can buy them up as well as ensuring that the right feeds are giving to the fish instead of steroid that would be dangerous for consumers’ health.

What is your message for the customers?

Just to let them know that they our customers come first before my profit, and they should continue to patronise us.

Marriott International Reaffirms Commitment To Merge With Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Marriott International, Inc today reaffirmed its commitment to acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc to create the world’s largest hotel company. The combined company will offer stockholders significant equity upside and greater long term value driven by a larger global footprint, wider choice of brands for consumers, improved economics to owners and franchisees leading to accelerated global growth and continued strong returns. Marriott is confident that the previously announced merger agreement is the best course for both companies.

On March 11, 2016 Starwood notified Marriott that it had received an unsolicited indication of interest in purchasing Starwood from a consortium of potential investors, led by Anbang Insurance Group. Marriott notes that this unsolicited indication of interest is highly conditional and non-binding.

Marriott granted Starwood a waiver to expedite its evaluation of the letter from the interested consortium.

Marriott will monitor this development as it and Starwood continue to work toward the closing of its transaction and the successful integration of the two companies in anticipation of votes by each company’s stockholders on March 28, 2016.

Starwood stated today that its Board of Directors has not changed its recommendation in support of Starwood’s merger with Marriott. Starwood has said that its Board, in consultation with its legal and financial advisors, will carefully consider the outcome of its discussions with the consortium in order to determine the course of action that it determines is in the best interest of Starwood and its stockholders.

Marriott and Starwood previously announced that they had satisfied the closing conditions in the merger agreement relating to the antitrust and competition authorities in the United States (under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended) and Canada, and the companies remain confident about achieving the remaining regulatory approvals and believe the combination can be closed expeditiously. Marriott has scheduled its special meeting of stockholders for March 28, 2016 for approval of the Starwood merger.

Marriott has sufficient cash resources to pay the cash portion of the merger consideration and there is no financing contingency in the merger agreement. Marriott expects that the Starwood merger will be completed by mid-year 2016. Under the terms of the merger agreement, should Starwood terminate its agreement with Marriott because it decides to enter into another deal or should Starwood change or withdraw its recommendation to its stockholders to vote in favor of the Marriott merger [and in certain other circumstances], Starwood would be obligated to pay Marriott a $400 million termination fee in cash.

Corporate Council On Africa Acquires Nation’s Premier Travel Organization For Africa

The nation’s oldest travel organization dedicated to U.S.-Africa tourism since 1975, and long considered the top global organization promoting tourism to Africa, will become an operating element under the Corporate Council on Africa effective immediately. The formal announcement was made at the New York Times Travel Show on January 8, 2016.

Stephen Hayes, President and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa [CCA] said, “The addition of the Africa Travel Association [ATA] to our portfolio of activities strengthens both the Africa Travel Association and the Corporate Council on Africa. Tourism is an essential ingredient in growing the economies of Africa. The potential for growth and investment in tourism in nearly every country in Africa is simply huge, regardless of the stage of development.”

The opportunity to combine the two organization presented itself when long-time ATA Executive Director, Edward Bergman, announced he would step down from his position at the end of 2015, following the successful ATA 40th Annual World Congress in Nairobi, Kenya this past November. Edward Bergman added, “finding a home for the Africa Travel Association at the Council provides an opportunity for the travel industry within Africa and between the United States and the countries of Africa to reach new heights.

The Corporate Council’s focus on investment and development matches the requirements of today and supplements ATA’s existing cultural and historic tourism endeavors throughout Africa. It was hard to imagine a better match for both organizations.”

CCA has been a leading advocate for U.S.-Africa trade and investment since its founding in 1993 through a grant from then Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown, and the United States Agency for International Development.

In the past 23 years, the council has grown to incorporate 180 corporations representing approximately 85 percent of all U.S. private investment in Africa. CCA focuses on various sectors for investment including infrastructure, financing, health, energy, power, and agribusiness.

Mr. Hayes added “Our background in working with major corporate players and investors who are looking for new opportunities in Africa is a perfect fit for the historical mission of the ATA for driving tourism growth on the African continent beyond its current global market share of this three percent of international travel.”

ATA will operate in Washington, DC as a division of the Corporate Council on Africa.