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What is real reason for Africa trips?

EDITOR, The Tribune.

The press release concerning the joint press conference of Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis and Botswana President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi on March 18, probably emailed to the local press by either a Bahamas Information Services (BIS) or Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) representative, was a tactical strategy. It was forwarded to dispel complaints that this trip to Botswana isn’t bearing any meaningful fruit for the Bahamian people. The personnel at BIS or the OPM is well aware of the rumblings by many Bahamians on Facebook regarding the excessive oversea trips by Davis and members of his Cabinet since coming to office in September 2021. Indeed, this will mark the second time Davis has visited the continent of Africa in 2024, which is a little over two and a half months old.

It was either in late January or early February Davis visited Uganda in order to attend a summit. So far, the complaints of the unprecedented level of travelling seem to not be fazing Davis. My guess, as I’ve postulated in this space already, is that Davis believes that Bahamians are so traumatized by the previous Free National Movement government under Dr Hubert Minnis that they’re willing to overlook the constant travelling. I don’t know of any previous Bahamian prime minister who has travelled this often. Davis is certainly setting a new precedent. But it is really not my intention to give the pros and cons of Davis’ many oversea trips. My issue is what was stated in the press release about The Bahamas being “prepared to open doors for the people of Botswana to come and learn The Bahamas’ approach to tourism and hospitality”.

The press release also mentioned this country’s commitment in helping Botswana in developing its digital currency, among other vague pledges of cooperation between the two countries. Botswana exports diamond and copper ore. It is one of the largest diamond producing countries in the world in terms of value and volume. Botswana’s mineral industry is robust. It also has a robust agrarian sector. The African country produces beans, pulses, groundnuts, cotton, potatoes, tomatoes, wheat, onions, oranges, bananas, watermelons, maize, millet, sorghum, cabbages, spinach and carrots. From the looks of it, Botswana really needs nothing from The Bahamas, which produces hardly anything worth mentioning. In my opinion, The Bahamas has diddly-squat to offer Botswana. Regarding Botswana coming to The Bahamas to learn about our approach to tourism, wouldn’t it be more feasible to get that information via zoom? Botswana is 7,817 miles from Miami, Florida. That should give you an idea of the distance that South African country is from The Bahamas. Moreover, Botswana can learn about ways to enhance its hospitality industry by simply going on YouTube. I am left with the impression that President Masisi believes that the success of the tourism industry is due to some ingenious strategy by the current Progressive Liberal Party government.

Truth be told, our close proximity to South Florida is the number one reason why The Bahamas has such a successful tourism industry. If Masisi wants his country to emulate the kind of success The Bahamas has achieved in tourism, he would need to relocate his country to somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico or in the Atlantic Ocean or Pacific Ocean off the coast of the United States. A more realistic alternative would be to network with South Africa and President Cyril Ramaphosa, whose country welcomed nearly eight million international tourists in 2023. Before the COVID outbreak in 2020, Botswana was averaging about 1.7 million tourists annually. While that figure pales in comparison to The Bahamas’ annual tourist numbers, at least Botswana has a diversified economy. Unlike The Bahamas, Botswana is not heavily reliant on the hospitality industry. It can survive a massive setback in tourism, unlike The Bahamas that would become another Haiti overnight.

I hope this contribution isn’t viewed as a slight on The Bahamas. Far from it. I am just being brutally honest. Our country runs on a consumer based economy that is extremely vulnerable to outside factors. The COVID lockdowns were sober reminders of this harsh reality. We produce virtually nothing. And we have virtually nothing to offer Botswana, or Kenya or Uganda. I view these trips to Africa as nothing more than an opportunity for PLP officials to visit the Motherland, the home of our African ancestors.

KEVIN EVANS

Freeport, Grand Bahama

March 19, 2024.

Comments

moncurcool 3 weeks ago

At least the 1.7 visitors to Botswana are not made up of cruise passengers. They actually land in the country.

Unlike our 9 million, which probably included the over 50% of cruise visitors who never get off the ship.

Letter writer is spot on. Davis' trips are a complete waste of money. Though if you listen to Davis, he would tell you it netted Kamala Harris visiting The Bahamas.

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buddah17 3 weeks ago

Think we are missing the obvious here. The country discussed mines DIAMONDS and other precious minerals and ores. With rich professionals running the country, this narrative fits them to a T…

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hrysippus 2 weeks, 4 days ago

As a sideline; To remind those who might care, 15% of Bahamians (60,000 out of 400,00 are not connected to Africa but rather to Europe, a possible 30% more have a partial descent from a European forebear. This just might be be an asset to our nation.

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jus2cents 1 week, 4 days ago

What IS The Real Reason? Good question.

Just like any corporate entity deals with oversea trips or conventions for their staff there should be ground rules and parameters set in place. Before any official trip overseas there should be a list of reasons they want to go posted to the public, an approximate budget of the trips projected expenses, and list of attendees provided. Then an informal vote (the public could vote on our phones) on whether they should spend the publics money on lavish five star hotels, chauffer driven limos, fancy restaurants, and expenses for their tailored suits, or just do a zoom meeting.

And after any trip, the attendees should be required to write trip reports, on what exactly was accomplished and if it was beneficial to the nation / how will that trip benefit us? And of course an accounting / breakdown of each trip.

Open and transparent.

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