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Technology Disrupting Global, Local Travel Industry

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By Gbemisola Aruwayo-Obe

 

Nigerians from all walks of life love to travel. Like folks elsewhere, they feel deeply emotional about travelling. Although they may chit-chat about banking, shopping and similar experiences, discussions about their favorite airlines, miles, discounts, upgrades and boarding privileges also strike a deep cord with them. Regardless of social status, we all seem to be united by two things: our aspirational lifestyle and our individual and collective urge for excellent service delivery. Embracing digital innovation (technology) would help fast track the attainment of these social and economic realities.

 

While travelers around the world may differ in their hospitality tastes and preferences, the Internet has helped to flatten the world. Commercialization of the Internet has also introduced digital innovation into the travel and tourism industries, bringing with it a raft of new products, services and experiences. The digital influence is daily transforming the entire value chain of the hospitality sector, and this digital disruption is being embraced by travelers and operators alike. Take online checking in and self-service terminals at airports, for instance.

 

What about software which allows travelers to select destinations, flights and airlines, hotels, car hire companies and concierge services from the comfort of their laptops or hand-held devices? 20 years, you would have needed to visit or place a phone call to an airline or travel agent to access these sorts of services.

 

In hospitality establishments across the country and even around Africa, innovative technology is gradually bringing disruption to business models and customer expectations. Digital innovation is creating new challenges and opportunities for the travel industry. As with other industries, travel services customers have grown accustomed to individualized arrangements.

 

Whilst service quality levels may not be optimal in the fast-developing economies of the world, travelers in these regions are also not shy of demanding more comprehensive and consistent experiences and are becoming less tolerant of both inconsistency and imposition. Travel customers now expect streamlined processes, convenient self-service options and one-of-a-kind experiences. They are willing to quickly shift buying behaviors and preferences if they do not get what they are seeking.

 

This is the way it should be. However, this is not always how things have been over the last 20 years or so for members of the public who need to patronize airlines, hotels, transportation providers and other service providers in the business or leisure travel value chain. While hospitality industry analysts have called for increased public sector investments in the sector and in some cases, sectoral reforms which will galvanize domestic and foreign direct investments, there is also the need to realize that the entire hospitality landscape is undergoing disruption, as new entrants continue to leapfrog established travel businesses by applying digital technologies in innovative ways, whether it’s businesses that rent private homes to strangers or provide one-way car services.

 

Executives in the industry recognize the ongoing disruption and the impact of digital innovation on their industry. In 2016, an IBM Institute for Business Value’s Global Ecosystem Survey, conducted in collaboration with the Economist Intelligence Unit, consulted the opinions of more than 2,000 cross-industry leaders. Study findings include:

 

63 percent of the surveyed travel industry executives report that traditional value chains are being replaced with new value models.

Half of the surveyed travel industry executives indicate that boundaries between their industry and others are blurring.

57 percent of surveyed travel industry executives say that competition from new and unexpected sources is beginning to impact their businesses.

 

According to another report from the IBM Institute for Business Value, the global travel industry can sustain its momentum by meeting and hopefully, exceeding travelers’ personal expectations by embracing the philosophy of a Digital Reinvention.™ There is a three-step process, which includes:

 

1) Digitization improves efficiency by applying technology to individual resources or processes. Within the context of travel, digitization involves setting up digital systems that support processes such as online ticketing, but has evolved into online services where customers book directly with providers rather than through traditional travel agents.

 

2) Digital transformation involves the integration of digital functions or processes across an organization. By combining a set of systems and processes, digitally transformed travel businesses can offer their customers individualized experiences. An example of increasing importance is the ability of travel providers to combine data collected through travel booking sites, as well as customers’ personal social media channels, to deliver highly customized vacations.

 

3) Digital Reinvention of travel goes even further. Digitally reinvented travel involves a fundamental re-imagining of the way an organization operates and engages with customers and other stakeholders. Digital Reinvention at its most fundamental puts the customer first in all of the organization’s dealings to deliver travel experiences that are personalized for individual customers.

 

Digital Reinvention combines multiple digital technologies, including cloud, blockchain, mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT), to transform customer and partner relationships and to create new business ecosystems. Often, the most successful digitally reinvented businesses establish a platform of engagement for their customers and partners.

 

These are the steps, the benchmarks if you like, that many Africa-based travel industry operators need to adopt to take their game to the next level. Digital disruption is a reality of the global travel industry. The earlier and faster we embrace digital disruption locally, the more efficient our travel and hospitality systems will be.

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How Nigeria’s Hospitality Industry can Leverage the Entertainment Sector

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By Adeniyi Ogunfowoke,PR Associate Jumia Travel

 

Hospitality has so many branches which include but not limited to music and film. To present a total hospitality package to tourists and visitors, these two must be aligned.

 

In Nigeria, you can arguably posit that there is yet to be a synergy between the hospitality and entertainment industry. This is a minus for both industries because the country is losing out from a major revenue loop. Although both sectors can exist independently, it will do the economy a whole lot of good if they synergise.

 

Let’s give more credence to this. According to Nigeria’s Hospitality Report, Travel and Tourism was directly responsible for 1.9% (N2.3 billion in actual numbers) of the country’s total GDP in 2017.

 

Meanwhile, a report in the Vanguard Newspaper reveals that the entertainment and creative sector contributed 2.3 per cent which was approximately N239 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP in 2016. Definitely, the numbers would have increased in 2017.

 

You can only imagine how much the Nigerian government will earn if both industries are synergised. In fact, more than the above-referenced figures can be earned if the government and stakeholders explore the endless gains of the hospitality and entertainment industry.
Nigeria’s Entertainment Industry

 

The entertainment industry has grown by leaps and bounds. Unlike in the past when Nigerians have the knack for foreign films and music, the opposite is the case now. They have embraced Nigerian films and music. The likes of Rita Dominic, Genevieve Nnaji, Pete Edochie, Funke Akindele, Wizkid, Olamide, and Davido et al are known all over the world including African countries. They are also celebrated in the country. Hence, they are ‘tools’ that can be used to push the Nigerian hospitality industry.

 

Interestingly, the government has recognised that the creative industry has a huge goldmine and has supported the industry with several grants.

 

In 2013, the government then established N200 billion (or about $1.2 billion) intervention fund for the entertainment industry. Last year, the federal government again supported the Nigerian film industry with N420m grant.

 

The government support has largely boosted the entertainment industry. You can observe this in the quality of videos and songs emerging from the country.
The Hospitality industry

 

There has really been no reported grant or fund for the hospitality industry unlike what is happening in entertainment. This is probably why the industry is laid back.

 

When you talk about hospitality in Nigeria, we mostly look at it from the perspective of hotels and tourist attractions-which need government attention. It is beyond this. There is food, flight, festivals, culture, film, music and much more.

 

The industry has infinite opportunities that only being explored by a few stakeholders and government interest is limited.

 

Again, quoting the Nigeria Hospitality report, the number of direct jobs created by the sector peaked at 1.2 million compared to 651,000 in 2016 (1.6%), that’s 1.8% of total employment in the country. This is estimated to rise by 4.7% by end of 2018 to approximately 1.3 million jobs (1.8% of total employment). If the government could invest in the hospitality industry, these figures will definitely increase.
How the hospitality industry can leverage the entertainment sector

 

Since entertainment is getting more attention from the government, it can be said that the hospitality industry will have to leverage on entertainment for the purpose of business and earn more revenue.

 

This said it is not rocket science to synergise both sectors to earn more revenue.

 

Artists and producers must recognise that there are beautiful, pleasant and awesome Nigerian destinations where they can shoot their videos. For example, we have the Obudu Cattle Ranch, the Kajuru Castle, Olumirin Waterfalls and a host of others. They do not need to visit South Africa or Dubai to shoot their movies. The more these destinations get celebrity endorsements, the more Nigerians will be interested in checking out these destinations and of course, these destinations can earn more revenue.

 

Furthermore, hospitality stakeholders should partner with artists so that they can endorse their hospitality spots. They do not need to pay the artists cash but they can compensate them in kind. For example, whenever, they have shows or performances, they can provide a certain number of rooms to the artistes and his backroom staff. This will translate to more bookings for the hotel.

 

Finally, the Nigerian tourist spots need dire attention. So, these artists can organise shows and performances at these spots. The more performances at these tourists attractions, the more they feature prominently in the media. Since the media sets the agenda, the condition of these destinations will be known to the government. They can now, in turn, develop these destinations.
Conclusion

 

Entertainment and Hospitality can contribute more than it is currently doing to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product. That is if it is synergised. The government have a key role to play. They have to also give the grant to the hospitality sector. However, because hospitality is yet to have the influence or impact that entertainment has, the former can leverage on the later to more revenue.

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Achieving Better Patient Outcomes with Artificial Intelligence

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By Dr.Simon Kos, Microsoft Chief Medical Officer

 

Nurse Florence Nightingale may be most well-known as the British Army’s lady with the lamp, assiduously conducting night rounds and attending to the wounded by candle light.

 

But by demonstrating the link between poor sanitary conditions and high mortality rates in hospitals, it was her pioneering use of data collection and visualisation that still resonates today.

 

In 2018, medicine faces a different set of challenges, with longer life expectancies and population growth increasing the number of patients suffering with chronic conditions requiring ongoing care.

 

This has led to the cost of delivering healthcare increasing faster than GDP and quickly becoming unsustainable.

 

Transforming delivery with data

 

Over 160 years might have passed since Florence Nightingale’s day, but addressing these challenges still depends on data.

 

By using it to unlock valuable insights, there’s an incredible opportunity to both accelerate medical breakthroughs and improve patient care.

 

 

Over the past decade, a great deal of focus has been on digitizing the sector’s records.

 

But while this has been a success improving performance from an operational stand point, we’ve yet to see it really transform the way we deliver services to patients.

 

At present, health is data rich and information poor. By applying cognitive technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) to this data, the sector can shift from traditional reactive treatments to a more proactive health system based on prevention, wellness, faster diagnosis and precision medicine.

 

 

Nicholas McQuire, VP, Enterprise Research at analyst firm CCS Insight, sees AI “radically transform the health care industry over the next five years.

 

AI will bring important improvements in operational effectiveness, care delivery and above all, patient outcomes.

 

It will also be a vital tool in helping solve some of our most challenging health-related problems, not least how to balance restricted budgets and reduced workforces against the growth of chronic conditions.”

 

Providing personalized treatment

 

Evolving approaches to cancer illustrate the way in which AI can revolutionise healthcare across the whole sector.

 

Historically considered an acute terminal illness, medical knowledge is improving to the point where most cancers are classified as highly treatable conditions.

 

That said, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) between 30 and 50 percent of cancer deaths could be avoided with prevention, early detection and treatment.

 

With the total economic impact of cancer costing the global economy over an estimated $1.16 trillion a year, we’re increasingly turning to the power of AI to address this issue, with oncology one of the most advanced areas of precision medicine.

 

Project InnerEye, used by Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, provides a good example, applying two core branches of AI, machine learning and computer vision, for the analysis of radiological images.

 

According to a study from TMC, the UK currently has less than five radiologists per 100,000 people, and will struggle to cope with demand for scans in the short, medium and long term.

 

Designed to identify tumours in a matter of seconds, Project InnerEye can help speed up diagnosis, as well as improve the delivery of treatments like radiotherapy, by providing exact delineation between cancerous tissue and healthy anatomy.

 

In addition, it promises to provide better monitoring of disease progression during treatments so they can be adjusted in line with how patients respond.

 

This has the potential to result in more targeted and effective chemotherapy with fewer side effects for patients.

 

 

These applications provide us with an opportunity to transition from a predominantly experimental approach to the ability to be incredibly precise.

 

 

Advances in genetic medicine now include genome sequencing of individual patients and tumours, allowing personalized diagnosis and treatment.

 

While progress in this field is encouraging, due to the complex range of genetic mutations responsible for cancer, the specialist skills needed to interpret genome information, and the high volume of new cancer cases each year, it’s not currently scalable to use this for every patient.

 

 

This has seen organisations like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital turn to the cloud to facilitate data sharing with global research communities.

 

Working with Microsoft Research’s genomics group, computational biologists from the hospital developed an online platform capable of managing vast quantities of anonymised genomic data.

 

By comparing raw genomic data with reference genomes to identify where they differ, researchers hope to identify the variants responsible for cancers, and make progress toward eventually finding a cure.

 

 

Helping patients take control of their care

 

A key objective of these AI initiatives is minimising unnecessary and costly hospital admissions and readmissions.

 

Discovering only eight percent of heart surgery patients were following doctor’s orders upon leaving hospital, the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS) wanted to tackle this issue head-on by creating a number of online ‘hubs’ for management of remote care plans.

 

These range from monitoring use of medication and proscribed therapies, to providing virtual consultations with specialists.

 

 

HUS believes AI has a central role to play in optimising these kinds of virtual services.

 

Visa Honkanen, Director of Strategic Development for HUS, explains “At the moment, we have no way of analyzing what’s happening, what’s useful … and how people are accessing and experiencing these services.

 

By using machine learning to analyze the data, we will be able to direct patients to the right place right away, and also see which of our digital tools work best, abandon the tools that aren’t working, and focus on the most promising ones.”

 

 

Ensuring responsible use of AI

 

While AI presents many benefits for healthcare, there are important considerations that need to be taken into account.

 

Former Director-General of the WHO Dr Margaret Chan warns “Artificial intelligence is a new frontier for the health sector…The potential of AI in health care is huge, but so is the need to take some precautions”.

 

 

From a data management perspective, delivering real value with AI depends on access to a bank of patient information, a sensitive resource that needs to be safeguarded.

 

The EU’s new GDPR guidelines provide a great benchmark standard to start from, however, medical professionals, regulators and policy makers will need to address the issue of“secondary”uses for health data i.e. usage not relating to the patients direct care.

 

Ensuring that privacy and data protections are systematically implemented will be vital for continued improvement of healthcare and public health.

 

 

At Microsoft, we were the first major cloud provider to incorporate an international code of practice for cloud privacy, ISO/IEC 27018 and we also back those protections with strong contractual commitments.

 

 

Like Florence Nightingale founding modern nursing in 19th century, today technology and health care are collaborating to create a modern medical sector fit for the 21st.

 

These developments will create a hybrid workforce where doctors and AI work together to solve medicine’s greatest challenges.

 

By helping the public play a more active, informed role in the care relationship, and empowering health professionals with the best information, AI will drive services that are more effective, efficient and accessible than ever before.

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Press Freedom in a Democratic Society: The Gambia Supreme Court Decision

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By Adeboro Odunlami

About three months ago, precisely on the 14th of February 2018, the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States, pointedly delivered a judgment in favor of press freedom in the Gambia.

 

The case before the ECOWAS court had been triggered by the story of four Gambian journalists, Fatou Camara, Fataou Jaw Manneh, Alhagie Jobe, and Lamin Fatty, who had been arrested, detained and intimidated for their work as journalists in the Gambia; a ‘democratic’ country.

 

They had so much feared further persecution “including the fear of physical and mental harm” that they fled their country into exile.

 

The case (Suit No: ECW/CCJ/APP/ 36/15) was then filed in the name of the Federation of African Journalist (FAJ) and the four aforementioned journalists, against the  Republic of the Gambia and the ECOWAS court was called upon to determine the appropriateness of such laws upon which the Gambian government rely to repress press freedom, namely the Information and Communications Act and some provisions in the Gambia Criminal Code, and for the ECOWAS court to order The Gambia to repeal those laws and enact more favourable laws.

 

These laws did not only repress press freedom, the right to information and expression, right to liberty and security and the freedom from torture and inhuman treatment, it also imposed ridiculous penalties.

 

For instance, one of the journalists had been slammed with the penalty of paying 250,000 GMD (approx. $5299.42USD) for criticizing the government and the president.

 

Even more ridiculous was that the penalty was to be payable within 2 hours and if not, she’d have to spend 4 years in prison.

 

In giving its judgment, the ECOWAS court declared that the Gambian government had violated the rights of the Defendant and directed her to immediately repeal and/or amend the relevant laws in line with its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the ECOWAS revised treaty and other international instruments.

 

This laudable judgment has been described as a landmark one which restored hope to press freedom in the Gambia, providing justice and respect for the rights of the Gambian people, especially the journalist.

 

However, on the 9th of May 2018, the Supreme Court of Gambia declared that although criminal defamation and false publication are unconstitutional, sedition is only partially unconstitutional.

 

That is, that Sedition still validly exists as an offense only when said speech is made against the President. Why this was declared by the Supreme Court of a nation that subscribes to democracy is beyond comprehension.

 

In addition to this declaration being overtly against the order made by the ECOWAS court in FAJ v. The Gambia, it also negates other components of the principle of democracy.

 

Democracy shows no favoritism for a single elected representative without any democratically sound reason. Democracy favors the good of the people over the interests of the government; whether as a whole or for an individual politician.

 

The rule of law, a component of democracy, requires that the law is to govern above all persons and no one is to be above the law. The question therefore is: If it isn’t constitutional for sedition to exist as a crime against the government, why then should it be constitutional for it to exist against the President?

 

Above all of these, a major reason why this ruling by the Supreme Court of Gambia is anti-democratic is that by going against the express Order of a superior court, it is has placed itself in opposition to the democratic mechanism of checks and balances.

 

By virtue of Article 5(3) of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty, each Member State undertakes to honor its obligations under the treaty. Article 15(4) more directly states that the judgments of the ECOWAS court are binding on the Member States.

 

The Gambia (which includes the judiciary) cannot claim that it has absolute powers to make decisions as it deems fit over the Gambia people as it has ceded some of those powers to the ECOWAS court and must comply when such ceded powers are exercised.

 

The ECOWAS Court addressing this issue in Musa Saidykhan vs. The Republic of The Gambia said:

“ECOWAS is a supranational authority created by the Member States wherein they expressly ceded some of their sovereign powers to ECOWAS to act in their common interest.

 

“Therefore, in respect of those areas where the Member States have ceded part of their sovereign powers to ECOWAS, the rules made by ECOWAS supersede rules made by the individual Member States if they are inconsistent …

 

“Therefore, it is untenable for the Member State of ECOWAS to claim that a matter is essentially within its domestic jurisdiction when it had expressly or by necessary implication granted ECOWAS powers to act solely or concurrently with national jurisdiction in respect of that matter”

 

The Republic of Gambia is therefore called upon to do the right thing; to entirely comply with the order by the ECOWAS court by ruling Sedition as fully unconstitutional – both regarding the government and the President.

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