The African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson, Mr Kwese Quartey has called for greater unity and close cooperation among African countries, saying such collaborative approaches can be the solution to some of the challenges bedeviling the region.

Mr Quartey made the call when he officially presented the AU candidate for the UNWTO Secretary General post, Dr Walter Mzembi, to representatives of the membership of the AU and other dignitaries at a glamorous ceremony held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia today.

The event was organised by the Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe in Ethiopia.

“Africa has a lot of potential that is still to be tapped particularly for economic development. The continent has vast natural resources and tourism attractions domiciled in different countries. We need to foster more unity in dealing with our challenges and in the same vain I want to urge all members to rally behind Dr Walter Mzembi who is Africa’s choice for the top UNWTO job . We are convinced that it’s now time for Africa to provide leadership at that level,” Mr Quartey said.

The elections for the UNWTO post will be held in Madrid, Spain next month.

Speaking at the same occasion, Dr Mzembi, who is also Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism and Hospitality for Zimbabwe, thanked the African Heads of State and Government for their endorsement which he said is clear testimony of the confidence the African leadership has in his candidature.

He took the opportunity to share with delegates his vision for global tourism which is underpinned by his internationally accepted 10 point plan.

Special guest on the occasion, Dr Taleb Rifai who is the current Secretary General of the UNWTO, spoke highly about Dr Mzembi whom he said has championed numerous developmental policies not only for his country but the African continent, through his involvement with the UNWTO at various levels over the years.

“I have known Minister Mzembi for a long time and I do appreciate and admire his spirit of hard work and brilliant ideas some of which were exhibited during the 20th session of the General Assembly they co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia. That General Assembly remains the best in the history of UNWTO by attendance. I do wish him the best in his quest for global leadership,” said Dr Rifai.

Dr Mzembi is the current Chairman of the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa comprising 54 African countries and their tourism ministers.

The event was attended by Ambassadors of AU member states and other countries accredited to the AU, ministers responsible for tourism, government officials from the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, heads of multilateral institutions in Ethiopia, global experts in the tourism sector and delegates to the 59th meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Africa and high level meeting on Chinese outbound Tourism to Africa.