British University Plans Return of Benin Bronze to Nigeria
By Ahmed Rahma
More than a century after Britain looted sculptures in Nigeria and auctioned them to Western museums, a British university is set to return a Benin Bronze back to its place of origin.
The varsity identified as the University of Aberdeen said on Thursday it wants to return the artwork to where it came from within weeks.
In a report by Reuters, this is one of the first public institutions to carry out the action.
The university said the sculpture of an Oba or ruler of the Kingdom of Benin had left Nigeria in an “extremely immoral” fashion, leading it to reach out to authorities in 2019 to negotiate its return.
Speaking, the head of museums and special collections of Aberdeen, Neil Curtis said the Bronze, purchased in 1957, had been “blatantly looted.”
“It became clear we had to do something,” Curtis said.
On the part of professor Abba Isa Tijani, director-general of Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments, the importance of displaying the Bronze inside Nigeria for the first time in more than 120 years was inexpressible.
“It’s part of our identity, part of our heritage… which has been taken away from us for many years,” Mr Tijani said.
British soldiers seized thousands of metal castings and sculptures from the Kingdom of Benin, then separated from British-ruled Nigeria, in 1897.
According to a report, Germany is also in talks to send back 440 Benin Bronzes as early as the autumn while the University of Cambridge’s Jesus College said it had finalised approvals in December to return another Bronze.
Mr Tijani said museums in the United States have also agreed to return two more Bronzes.
The Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has also revealed plans to build a centre to store and study the returned artefacts by the end of 2021, and a permanent museum by 2025.
Artist and Edo state native Victor Ehikhamenor said he hoped the decision would prompt others to follow suit.
“Because some of these things are missing from our environment, people are not able to contextualize where we are coming from,” Ehikhamenor said.
Italy Pledges €1.4m Investment to Preserve Kanyaka Island in Moçambique
By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
The tourism handbook or guidebook says Kanyaka is in Maputo, Southern Moçambique (Mozambique). It further says that Kanyaka is situated nearby to Tóbia and Jona. It is an island which attracts tourists for leisure, so the Moçambique government attaches importance to its development and preservation.
Rádio Moçambique reported in early June that the Italian Development Cooperation Agency (IDCA) would invest around €1.4 million in preserving and enhancing the environmental heritage of Kanyaka Island.
Through environmental protection, tourism development and sustainable agriculture projects, the Kanyaka community would benefit from tools to preserve the island’s ecosystem better. The ‘MangAction’ project, within the framework of the ManGrowth initiative, was formally presented to the district of Kanyaka.
Project coordinator Frederica Ferrari said that the three-year project would deliver benefits to the entire island community. The initiative would be managed by a consortium made up of civil society organisations ICEI – Istituto Cooperazione Economica Internazionale, WeWorld Onlus, with Natura Moçambique, IUCN Moçambique and Abiodes (Associação para Desenvolvimento Sustentável).
It aims to preserve and value the environmental heritage for sustainable and resilient development in the Bay of Maputo. The project was launched with the support of the Kanyaka Tour Operators Association (AOTUKA), whose chairman Angelo Manguele said that the biggest benefit of the project would be gaining knowledge of the best ways to preserve the island’s environmental heritage.
Moçambican President Filipe Nyusi previously inaugurated a new ferry boat that operates between central Maputo and the Island. The boat, named “Kanyaka”, cost $2.7 million and was acquired in Greece. It has the capacity to carry 156 passengers and five tonnes of cargo, including one vehicle. The boat, built in 2008, has a top speed of 14 knots (26 kilometres an hour).
The trip from Maputo to Kanyaka now takes one hour and 45 minutes, compared with two and a half hours on the previous ferry, which could only carry 70 passengers. The islanders requested a new ferry when Nyusi visited Kanyaka.
The new ferry service, the President said, would overcome the common perception that Island “is too far away”. Poor transport links, he added, had made life on the island more expensive and led to shortages in basic goods that must be shipped in from Maputo. The isolation of Inyaka also inhibited its tourism potential.
Nyusi said he was sure that the new ferry would reduce the suffering of the islanders and help improve the business environment in this part of the country. It was important, he added, to guarantee safety and comfort for the 6,000 inhabitants of Inyaka who regularly travel to and from central Maputo.
The boat now ensures regular supplies of basic goods and of medicines and reduces the time needed to take people who fall ill on Island to Maputo hospitals. “The island has a strong tourist potential,” said the President, “and Moçambican and foreign tourists can now visit in less time and with greater comfort. The 12,000 species of the marine ecosystem can be a source for ecotourism.”
The ferry is operated by the company Transmaritima, and Nyusi urged the company’s managers to design package trips for tourists visiting the island. The sustainability of the ferry service depends on the management capacity, not a burden on the government.
The country’s natural environment, wildlife, and historic heritage provide opportunities for beach, cultural and ecotourism. There are many different kinds of dances from tribe to tribe which are usually ritualistic in nature. The Makonde are known for their wood carving and elaborate masks, which are commonly used in traditional dances. Moçambique is located in southeastern Africa, bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, and has approximately 30 million population.
Foreign Airlines’ Unrepatriated $812m in Nigeria Worries IATA
By Adedapo Adesanya
Fresh data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has revealed that the total amount of foreign airlines’ trapped funds in Nigeria has risen to $812.2 million from the $802 million reported in April.
The updated figure came as IATA warned all owing governments that the blocked airline funds could threaten airline connectivity in the affected markets.
This was noted on the sideline of the ongoing IATA Annual General Meetings and World Air Transport Summit ongoing in Istanbul, Turkey.
According to a statement seen by Business Post, the industry’s blocked funds have increased by 47 per cent to $2.27 billion in April 2023 from $1.55 billion in April 2022.
Speaking on this, Mr Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, said, “Airlines cannot continue to offer services in markets where they are unable to repatriate the revenues arising from their commercial activities in those markets. Governments need to work with industry to resolve this situation so airlines can continue to provide the connectivity that is vital to driving economic activity and job creation.”
Nigeria led the top five countries that account for 68.0 per cent of blocked funds comprising Nigeria ($812.2 million), Bangladesh ($214.1 million), Algeria ($196.3 million), Pakistan ($188.2 million), and Lebanon ($141.2 million).
IATA urged governments to abide by international agreements and treaty obligations to enable airlines to repatriate these funds arising from the sale of tickets, cargo space, and other activities.
The IATA had recently said it would continue discussions with the incoming government, which was inaugurated in May.
Although President Bola Tinubu did not allude to the airline funds in his speech, he, however, announced that his administration would move towards unifying the country’s exchange rate, adding that this would help divert funds away from arbitrage into productive endeavours such as investment in plant, equipment and job creation.
IFC Invests $13m to Support Ecotourism, Conservation in Sub-Saharan Africa
By Adedapo Adesanya
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has announced a $13 million investment in the Africa Conservation and Communities Tourism Fund (ACCT Fund) to support the post-pandemic recovery and sustainable growth of sub-Saharan Africa’s ecotourism sector.
The investment will support ecotourism businesses in and around conservation areas in East and Southern Africa, with a focus on South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zambia.
The ACCT Fund will invest in operators of safari camps, hotels, and lodges, helping them address liquidity shortages while recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fund will also help them refurbish, renovate, and expand their operations, especially where the businesses can achieve meaningful conservation and community development impact.
Impact investment and advisory group, ThirdWay Partners, and The Nature Conservancy, a global environmental non-profit organization, established the ACCT Fund, a structured debt vehicle, in 2021 in response to COVID-19-related challenges affecting the ecotourism sector.
Based on IFC estimates, the ACCT Fund is expected to contribute at least $530 million to economies where it invests through direct, indirect, and induced effects in the agriculture, retail, transportation, and recreational sectors. IFC expects the investment to also save about 21,200 full-time jobs.
“We are very grateful for IFC’s support of this innovative and very important initiative,” said Mr Maarten Weehuizen, Managing Director of the ACCT Fund. “The ACCT Fund is an impact investment vehicle which balances financial goals with a clear conservation and community impact agenda.”
“Tourism is critical to the long-term survival of conservation landscapes across the African continent, to the benefit of the people and the wildlife who depend on them,” Mr Weehuizen added. “Even prior to the COVID pandemic, these areas were under significant pressure; tourism provides jobs in rural areas, funding for nature protection and its activities with guests in these landscapes significantly reduce the risk of poaching, deforestation, and land conversion.”
Ecotourism businesses are committed to protecting the environment and wildlife where they operate.
“As part of this innovative blended finance approach, IFC has partnered with the Nature Conservancy, a global environmental conservation organisation, to support sustainable ecotourism and deliver impact to small tourism operators,” said Mr Sérgio Pimenta, IFC Vice President for Africa. “IFC’s investment in the ACCT Fund will help financially affected ecotourism businesses to preserve jobs and contribute to the local economy. The partnership aligns with IFC’s strategy to support the revival of domestic and regional tourism markets and to use a blend of financing tools to support countries’ development priorities.”
With the financing from IFC and other investors, the fund has now reached a final close with a total of $70 million raised. The ACCT Fund is structured using a blended finance approach with three tranches of capital: grant funding, junior equity, and senior equity funding.
In addition to financing, IFC will also provide non-commercial risk mitigation and capacity building by supporting the development of climate guidelines that will contribute to setting standards for the sector and help operators improve their environmental performance by reducing energy and water use and improving waste management.
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