Legal Expert Safiyaa Akoojee stresses legal framework’s crucial role in African Tourism Investment

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With the Tourism Investment Forum Africa (TIFA) fast approaching in Cape Town, South Africa, Safiyaa Akoojee one of the speakers at this year’s event is amplifying the importance of legal expertise in fostering tourism investment on the continent. The Dubai-based, South African attorney and CEO of Fortunatus Advisory LLC shares valuable insights that offer perspective on the intricate dynamics of investment facilitation.

In an insightful interview with Kojo Bentum-Williams for the VA Tourism Podcast, Safiyya delved into the nuanced relationship between legal frameworks and attracting investments to Africa’s tourism sector. She highlighted how crucial it is to recognize and capitalize on each African destination’s distinctiveness to draw in tourism-related investment. Safiyya explained that although foreigners frequently view Africa as a monolithic continent, it consists of several countries, each with unique charms and offerings. She highlights that rather than giving a generic picture of Africa, tourist enterprises should emphasize these unique selling features when marketing to potential investors.

She said “We are talking across multiple jurisdictions. These tourism businesses need to look at what is the uniqueness in the offering that would then allow for opportunities across different countries. For example, it was suggested to a client, you want to come to South Africa and head up to the Kruger Park where you going to go and see some beautiful natural wildlife, or you’re going to come to Kenya and you’re going to see the same thing. Essentially, when you’re speaking to foreigners, who are not African-based, they see Africa as one place, they don’t see the multitude of countries.”

In addition, Safiyya underscores how important it is for legislative and regulatory frameworks to support investment in the tourism industry. She underlines the significance of governmental initiatives that support foreign direct investment and stresses the necessity for investors to evaluate the legal frameworks and investment climate of each nation before making financial commitments.

“There are some critical questions investors ask; What are the legal structures that are available in this country? How conducive are government policies to foreign direct investment? Is the government willing to work or not? And if they are, then what policies do they have to allow for our investors to come into the country and to place huge amount of capital in the country in projects in tourism? Which is interesting because it starts at the top. What I mean is, let’s just discuss today. Today, the headline news is, that Egypt has secured $35 billion worth of investment into the Ras al-Hekma project. That’s North of Africa. And that’s a huge investment. The government there is doing everything in its power to attract foreign direct investment.”

Safiyya also highlights the necessity for companies to give legal considerations top priority right away, noting that business owners frequently ignore legal obligations until issues develop. She emphasizes how important it is to have lawyers involved in all facets of running a business, particularly when it comes to issues with intellectual property (IP), employment contracts, data security, and trademark registration

“I’ve said time and time again that in hospitality and tourism and then every single sector of the economy, when you start a business, find yourself a lawyer, have your lawyer present. A lot of the time, entrepreneurs come only when there are problems for lawyers. People may ask; Why a lawyer when You can download a contract and can download operation manuals from the internet? But if you’re looking for foreign direct investment into your particular project, the investor is going to want to know that absolutely every single part of your IP, your trademarks, and your licenses are all registered correctly. 90% of the time, registering IP trademarks, and licenses is very intricate documentation that needs to be completed and you do need a lawyer.”

As TIFA draws near, Safiyya is optimistic about providing legal insights at the conference that would elaborate on what the tourism and hospitality ecosystem needs to do to ensure that they are well grounded in the law.

“I am looking forward to meeting with everyone. I am eager to share information and exchange ideas. I hope people will come prepared with lots of questions that need answering. I’m genuinely excited about providing insights and assistance to those seeking guidance. Let us assist you because that is the reason, we have this platform. The platform is for sharing knowledge and uplifting communities. So, you’re most welcome. Everybody’s welcome to ask any question they have. If we can’t assist immediately, we will get back to you. But that’s the whole purpose of it. Let’s promote and grow Africa from the grassroots up,” she emphasized.

Register to participate in TIFA here

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