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Committee Profiles

Co - Chair persons of the Committee

Judy Kepher-Gona
Executive Director - Sustainable Travel and Tourism Agenda (STTA), Kenya
Judy has over 20 years’ experience in Sustainable Tourism with significant experience in project management, community development, conservation enterprise, community-based tourism, certification and sustainable tourism assessment.

This includes 10 years as CEO of Ecotourism Kenya, and 10 years of practical experience working with community wildlife conservancies in Masai Mara Kenya. Her work in Masai Mara involved negotiating with landowners for formation of conservancies, establishing value of conserved areas, agreeing on and designing resettlement and benefit sharing schemes and building capacity of landowner boards to effectively oversee and own the transition, rebuilding / restoration of lives.

The lessons drawn from work in conservancies in Mara contributed significantly to policy revisions that led to recognition of conservancies, as CCA’s in conservation law in Kenya. This opened a new chapter in direct community engagement in tourism and wildlife conservation.
Prof Marina Novelli (PhD)
Professor of Tourism and International Development and Responsible Futures’ Academic Lead at the University of Brighton, UK
With a background in economics and a keen interest in international development issues, Marina is an internationally renowned Tourism and International Development expert and an established academic based at the University of Brighton (UK), where she is also academic lead for the Responsible Futures’ Research and Enterprise Agenda – https://www.brighton.ac.uk/research-and-enterprise/brighton-futures/responsible-futures/responsible-futures.aspx.

A native of Italy and African by ‘professional adoption’, she has written and advised extensively in the field of international tourism policy, planning, development and management in several African destinations – Botswana, Burundi, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. She has advised on a number of projects funded by The World Bank Group, the EU, the UN, the Commonwealth Secretariat, National Ministries and Tourism Boards, Regional Development Agencies and NGO’s.

Her work has demonstrated to have impact far beyond tourism by contributing to more effective economic growth, improved environments and more inclusive societies. Her most recent 2016 volume Tourism and Development in Sub-Sahara Africa: Contemporary Issues and Local Realities (Oxford: Routledge) conveys her extensive empirically grounded research and consultancy engagements and collaborations in some 15 Sub-Sahara Africa destinations. She is currently collaborating with Emmanuel A. Adu-Ampong and Manuel A. Ribeiro in the editing of the Routledge Handbook of Tourism in Africa, a collection of some 40 chapters authored by academics and practitioners primarily from the African continent, which will be published in 2019.

Awards Committee members

Dr Emmanuel Akwasi Adu-Ampong
Senior Lecturer - Sheffield Hallam University, UK and a Research Associate, University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Emmanuel is an international tourism development planner with a background in Sociology, Geography and Rural Development. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Tourism and International Development at the Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University, UK – https://www.shu.ac.uk/about-us/our-people/staff-profiles/emmanuel-adu-ampong – and a Research Associate at the School of Tourism and Hospitality, University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

His research, teaching and consultancy interests are in the field of international tourism policy, planning, development and management. He publishes his work in leading international journals in the field of tourism and international development such as Annals of Tourism Research, Current Issues in Tourism, Tourism Planning and Development, International Development Planning Review and Development Policy Review.
Jon Howell
Managing Director - AviaDev, Bench Events, UK
Jon Howell has worked in the field of aviation and tourism in Africa for 6 years, organising events around the continent. Jon is based in Manchester, UK, and has a passion for African aviation and Africa as a whole. Jon founded AviaDev Africa in 2016 as a platform to bring together the African aviation community with a view to improving connectivity to, from and within the African continent. Jon is also a global ambassador for the Gorilla Organisation, a UK based charity raising funds for gorilla conservation.
Miller Matola
CEO, Millvest and Director, Africa Tourism Leadership Forum
With a Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of the North, Miller Matola began his career as a lecturer at Vista University where he worked for four years. During this time, he obtained a BA Honours (Cum Laude) from the University of Potchefstroom. Thereafter he took on a project management course whilst working as a Project Manager at Technikon in South Africa.

He was then awarded a scholarship by the United States Agency, for International development, to travel to the US amongst others as part of the USAID South Africa- Namibia Institute. Upon his return to South Africa in 1996, Miller was assigned to design a tourism course, which fuelled his interest in the tourism sector. Since then he has worked with various organizations in Executive positions in the tourism and hospitality industry, including working with the Department of Tourism, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife KZN, Tourism Grading Council of SA, Durban Chamber of Commerce and the International Convention Center Durban, amongst others.
Dr. Kobby Mensah
Lecturer: University of Ghana Business School, Accra, Ghana
Dr. Kobby Mensah a Lecturer at the Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, and the Coordinator of the Marketing and Communications unit, University of Ghana Business School, Legon.

He is a leading expert in Communication, Digital Marketing, Financial Services Marketing, Key Account Management, Customer Relationship Management, Brand Management and Political Marketing. He has trained and consulted for a number of leading companies and organisations in Ghana, including Ghana Institute of Engineering, Association of Ghana Industries, Glico, Coca Cola etc. He was awarded Chartered Marketer status from the same body having fulfilled his Continuous Professional Development (CPD) requirements. Kobby worked as a research officer for the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) group in Sheffield between 2010-2013, working with Sheffield Council on UK Government policies; worked for multinational companies such as Vodafone UK, T-Mobile UK, Santander and the DSGI Group in marketing, communications and customer management capacities.

In Ghana, Kobby worked for the M&J Travel Group as a Marketing Manager in 1999-2000. Kobby is Chair of the Sales and Marketing Compliance Committee of Accra Brewery Ltd (ABL), an AB InBev Company; Coordinator, Marketing and Communications (UGBS Marcoms); Coordinator, Constitution Dialogue Series, CeDRA/British High Commission (BHC) collaboration. Kobby’s opinion on corporate and political strategies are sought by international and local media brands.
Vincent Oparah
Project Manager: Skills and Employment for Youth Programme & Tourism Advisor at NEPAD.
Mr Vincent Oparah is currently the Project Manager of the Skills and Employment for Youth Programme of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, with focus on decent youth employment and entrepreneurship. He is also the Advisor on Sustainable Tourism at NEPAD.

Previously, Mr Oparah was the Fund Manager of the NEPAD Climate Fund. He facilitated the implementation of 22 climate change adaptation projects in 18 African countries between 2014 and 2016. As a result, some of the beneficiaries were accredited, to access funds, through the Green Climate Fund.

He has a Master Degree in Public and Development Management from Wits School of Governance, Johannesburg, South Africa. Mr Oparah volunteers as a mentor at the Mandela Washington Fellowship – Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).

He has authored and co-authored a few publications on development issues, tourism and environmental policies. Mr Oparah is well travelled within Africa and internationally.
Assia Riccio
CEO and Founder EvolvinWomen, Dubai
Assia is the Founder and CEO of Evolvin’ Women, a socially responsible platform for sourcing female talents in hospitality, differently, aimed at improving the employability of women from developing countries through the provision of necessary resources, networks, education and employment opportunities that would not be otherwise available to them. Her commitment to the SDGs #4, #5 and #8 and her work in the field of equality of opportunity and inclusion through Evolvin’ Women, translated in 2017 into her membership of the UAE task-force for the 7 Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), a collaboration between the UN Women and the United Nations Global Compact.

As a result of embedding social responsibility in HR practices within the hospitality industry, in 2018 Evolvin’ Women became one of the first microenterprises to join the United Nation Global Compact.

Assia is a member of the Dubai Business Women Council and an Advisory Board Member for Zawadi International for young entrepreneurs in Africa. Assia is the former Group Learning and Development Manager at Jumeirah Restaurant Group (JRG) – Dubai, where she developed the L&D strategy for over 1000 employees working in 42 restaurants. Assia has been recognized as one of the GCC’s Women Leaders of 2017 and received the Women in Leadership Award by CMO ASIA and the Women Super Achiever Awards at the World HRD Congress 2018 for helping hospitality businesses in the Middle East and Africa embed social responsibility in their business practices and become catalysts for equality of opportunity.
Jerome Touze
MO, Travel Start and Former CEO of WAYN.com
Jerome is a leading OTA in Africa and the Middle East. Prior to joining travelstart, Jerome was the co-Founder and co-CEO of WAYN.com (part of the lastminute.com group), the largest travel and lifestyle social media platform with over 25 million members worldwide. In 2006, he led a partial sale of the business to DFJ Esprit, a Venture Capitalist firm based in Cambridge and attracting investment from eminent Internet Founders such as Brent Hoberman (lastminute.com), Hugo Burge (Cheapflights.co.uk), and Andy Phillips (Active Hotels).

He was responsible for implementing the main revenue channels and signing key strategic partnerships with Booking.com, Google and India Today Group. He also led the Sale of WAYN.com in September 2016 to the lastminute.com group.
Mr. Jeffers Miruka
President and Founder member of the African Society of Association Executives (AfSAE)
AfSAE is a Pan-African professional community of association executives formed in 2015 to serve as the professional society for those within the Association Management profession in Africa. Mr. Miruka is also the Executive Director of the African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE), a Nairobi based association of agricultural and development economists with over 3000 members spread globally. Mr. Miruka has over 14 years combined experience in association management and Business Events – meetings, conventions, exhibitions, incentives, corporate, associations, intergovernmental, nonprofits. He has a rich experience in association development, convention bureau management, and is a frequent speaker and contributor to many global publications, media interviews and association forums. Mr. Miruka is currently involved with the government of Kenya, activating the Kenya National Convention Bureau.

He is well known internationally in the MICE Business events industry and easily recognized as the pre-eminent African associations ambassador and a leader of the association movement in the continent. Mr. Miruka is a member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Mr. Miruka has a Master of Science in Global Marketing.
Nomasonto Ndlovu
CEO of Limpopo Tourism Agency,
South Africa
Sonto does not only have a passion for brands, but also the special touch of turning them Into household names. With more than ten years of classical brand marketing experience gained within the fast- moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry, specifically at Unilever South Africa, she has already worked on various local and global brands in various positions over the years. While at Unilever, she was seconded for three years in Kenya as a Brand Manager for OMO Brand, one of Unilever’s biggest brands. She thereafter ventured into destination marketing in 2005 joining tourism board of Kwa-Zulu-Natal, where she held a position of General Manager: Marketing responsible for the “Zulu Kingdom” brand across business, leisure and events tourism.

She became the Global Manager: Business Tourism at South African Tourism (SAT) for three years, where she was responsible for marketing South Africa as a premier business tourism destination globally. Here, she led and contributed to growing Meetings Africa, a marketing platform to showcase South Africa as a business tourism destination She has also held the position of Head: Brand Marketing, Sponsorships and Events at Standard Bank’s Corporate and Investment Banking Division (CIB), where she was responsible for strategic marketing and pro ling of various CIB products as well as utilising events strategically to achieve organisation’s objectives.

She currently holds a position of Acting Group Head responsible for Group Communications and Marketing Department at the City of Tshwane. She is responsible for the repositioning of the city to reclaim its glory as a capital city of South Africa, and this has involved identifying and overseeing implementation of flagship events to position the city nationally and internationally. She successfully led the team to deliver the inaugural Tshwane Golf Open 2013, which put the city on the global map.
Devota Kasanda Mdachi

Managing Director, Tanzania Tourist Board

Devota Mdachi was born on June 9th, 1966 in Bukoba-Tanzania. She started working with Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) in 1994 and was first employed as Tourist Information Officer, at the TTB, Branch Office in Arusha. In 1998, she was transferred to Dar-es-salaam, the commercial capital city of Tanzania, and was attached at the Tourist Information Centre. She later rose to the level of Senior Tourist Information Officer in 2000; Principal Tourist Information Officer and Head of the Tourist Information Centre , Dar-es-salaam in 2004.

In May, 2010, Ms. Mdachi was appointed Principal Marketing Officer. In March, 2011, Ms. Mdachi worked with the Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (RETOSA), under the Marketing and Communications Department for a period of three months. On her return to Tanzania in June,2011, Ms. Mdachi was appointed Director of Marketing of the Tanzania Tourist Board, and later Ag. Managing Director of the Tanzania Tourist Board in March 2014. In January 2016 Ms. Mdachi was confirmed to the position of Managing Director of the Tanzania Tourist Board.

Ms. Mdachi is the first Tanzania woman to hold the positions of Director of Marketing and Managing Director of the Tanzania Tourist Board. Through her position and undertakings over the years, Ms. Mdachi has been able to be a great role model to women in Tanzania, and in the tourism sector in particular. She has been nominated as one of the most recipients of the ‘Nyerere Golden Awards’ by The Mwl.J.K Nyerere Golden Awards in Science and Technology Achievements in 2014 and 2015 which recognizes women in Tanzania who have contributed towards Community Development and have genuinely imparted changes to people’s lives.

In 2016 , the CEO Global (Pty) LTD a South African based company, awarded Ms.Mdachi as ‘country winner in Government; Employed Official Sector of CEO Global’s Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government.

Ms. Mdachi has a BA degree in International Relations and Advanced French Language from the University of Dar-es-salaam (1991); M.A in Tourism from the Open University of Tanzania (2008) and Post Graduate Certificate in Tourism from the International School of Tourism, Rome Italy (2000).
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