The President of African Chefs United (ACU), the umbrella body of all Chefs across the African Continent, Chef Citrum Khomalo, has described tourism as the future gold of Africa.
Chef Khomalo made this remark at the 2018 edition of the Hospitality All Africa People Imbizo (HAAPI) Festival held at Eko Hotel in Lagos. According to Chef Khomalo, all other resources will in the course of time deplete but tourism will never be depleted and thus will continue to earn foreign exchange, create jobs and add to the GDP of the respective African countries.
His position agrees with that of the World Bank which in 2013 said that “Tourism is a powerful vehicle for economic growth and job creation all over the world. The tourism sector is directly and indirectly responsible (WTTC 2011) for 8.8 percent of the world’s jobs (258 million); 9.1 percent of the world’s GDP (US$6 trillion); 5.8 percent of the world’s exports (US$1.1 trillion); and 4.5 percent of the world’s investment (US$652 billion). The World Travel & Tourism Council estimates that 3.8 million jobs (including 2.4 million indirect jobs) could be created by the tourism industry in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) over the next 10 years”.
The World Bank report continues by stating that “This more than any other time is the moment for pursuing tourism as a dynamic development option in SSA. Tourism energizes economies and fuels the economic transformation of countries in Africa. Its benefits range from livelihoods improvement to export diversification”.
The HAAPI Festival, according to Chef Khomalo, is meant to bring the Chefs together to network and forge a common course for themselves and the continents and to seek ways to collaborate for the betterment of the continent. “You see so many foreign Chefs in Africa running businesses and their open kitchens whereas there are few if any African Chefs doing same abroad”, he added.
On what ACU is doing to address the situation, he said the organization has “realized the skill shortage in the sector and are addressing it through mentoring, workshops and trainings. Still, the Chefs need more platforms to showcase their talents and businesses skills and for them to leapfrog to the next level. This is the fifth edition of HAAPI Festival and in all these years there are few sponsors to support the Chefs. We need sponsors from businesses, from media organizations and from the Governments”.
He lamented the prevailing situation where Chefs across the continent are not supported whereas in Europe and the Americas, Chefs are given so much recognition that people travel from other parts of the World to experience their culinary hospitality. According to him, “African governments need to wake up and support Chefs to own their own business. All the big hotels are foreign. It is a multibillion dollar industry that the governments are taking for granted. The departments of Tourism, Arts and Culture should be part of HAAPI Festival”.
Responding to a question on the Standard of the Nigerian tourism industry, Chef Khomalo said that it is amazing. “The people are always full of smiles and are very caring. The food is amazing and very tasty and the people are lovely and welcoming”. The only stressful thing, he mentioned, is the Lagos traffic. Additionally, he called on the different African countries to pay attention to the issue of Visa for fellow African. Most of the expected Chefs could not attend the 2018 HAAPI Festival due to inability to procure visa to Nigeria.
The 2018 edition of HAAPI festival was hosted by the Association of Professional Chefs Nigeria (APCN) and was attended by Chefs from across the African Continent and from Australia.