14 thought leaders Friday, February 23 2018| NEW ERA Germany: Atrocities and the development assistance approach Germany is apparently ready to offer an apology at the highest level for its genocide crimes, Namibia’s envoy in the matter, Dr Zed Ngavirue, told a local daily. At the same time, the government of the Federal Republic of Germany has not accepted the genocide committed against Namibian people as genocide. There have been widespread reactions to this position of the German government as if this is a new position. One is only reminded of the same German position 18 years ago at the World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa. The German government was represented by its foreign minister then, Joseph Fischer, who indicated his country and government’s readiness to come to terms with the “heritage of colonialism”. But visiting Windhoek in 2003, he was more categorical. “We are not hostages to history” and “therefore, there will be no apology with relevance to compensation”. Exactly what has just been, strangely and ironically relayed by Dr Zed, as opposed to his German counterpart, Ruprecht Polenz. But this position as old as it is, has special essence and meaning, particularly for the fact that having been engaged in negotiations, and making those interested and affected by the genocide believe the negotiations, close to three years now or more, are nearing conclusion, nothing fundamental has been agreed on. The two fundamentals here are genocide and reparations, if only for the affected communities. A position diametrically opposed to that of the German government itself was known as such for more than 18 years (Fischer), if not more. For the German government the fundamentals a r e “ a t r o c i t i e s ” a n d “reconciliation fund”. Ala Dr Zed, Germany is presumably to offer an apology at the highest level. Granted such apology from said highest Germany’s level, mindful of the myriads of apologies, which have been rehearsed by be scoffed at and ridiculed by German officialdom. But, regarding the affected communities, one cannot but wonder what this “highest level” may entail and constitute and if ever it may mean anything? Given that to date Germany has been refusing to directly engage the direct victims – the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama – despite various efforts by the affected communities to engage Germany directly. Going back as far as 1995 (Helmut Kohl) and 1998 (Herman Herzog), and subsequently, but all efforts, which have been rebuffed ignominiously by German authorities. Never ever has Berlin even pretended to engage the victims on a single occasion. Only now to declare readiness to offer an apology. Apology to whom? The people who were nearly annihilated are today in Namibia living proof of the victims. Not only this but the issues of genocide and reparations have gained the stature and momentum they have gained today because of no one else but the victims themselves, singularly, with the help and support of international solidarity. Our Namibian government is a distant, unmoved, disinterested and unobtrusive observer all the time, and reluctant prime mover lately. The German government is an irritated diplomat that any time could declare another genocide on these tribal irritant savages. genocide may not be living today but their descendants are. And as such victims to whom any apology must and should be offered. To this day they are still bearing the brunt of genocide, are the direct victims, and no measure of spin-doctoring or rationalisation can wish this fact away. What the German government is once again doing today, is trying to wish the existence of the victims of its genocidal acts away. Looking at them with the same disdain and racial hatred that drove its Imperial predecessor to declare their why such an apology needs to be directed to either a second or third party if the aggrieved party is there in living body and soul? Likewise, it is beyond comprehension what apology the German government is ready to offer whoever it is contemplating and is ready to offer to, while denying the undeniable, that it nearly annihilated the Namibian p e o p l e , s p e c i f i c a l l y known as the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama. It goes without saying that the fundamental thing here is the genocide that Imperial Germany committed against the said people. So fundamental that anyone worth calling herself or himself a direct victim of the said 1904-1908 genocidal acts of Imperial Germany, cannot and should not dare genesis, premise, basis and the fundament of any engagement with the German government as far as the victims of genocide are concerned. And it is high time the governments purporting to have been engaged on the issue, get this clear, especially now as the ancestors may have destined and divined, it is becoming crystal clear by the second, that the ongoing negotiations on genocide and reparations have not been based on the compromise on. Genocide is the fundamentals. Developing Namibia: Ideas of a passionate man It is no secret that Namibia faces many developmental challenges. Most of these challenges are of a socio-economic nature and deal with bread and butter issues. These challenges, if not properly handled, have the potential to erode the gains achieved since independence. The other major challenges in my view, however not too much espoused upon, are more related to our attitude, lack of belief in ourselves, and mental colonial slavery. Let me expand. It is said that attitude determines altitude, which I fully agree with. Our attitudes are not in the right place for us to seriously develop our country and bring the required services to our people. Service delivery is, more often than not, hampered by the way we conduct ourselves and the seriousness with which we go about our tasks than the sheer lack of resources. It is no secret that Namibia was generally considered a well-off country with very good plans. However, our attitudes in executing our mandates have now led us to our developmental goals. The other serious developmental challenge we have is that we do not have faith in ourselves but rather put all our faith in other people. This is self-evident in many of the things we do. For example, if a local person tells or advises us on something, we usually tend to discard that advice. We would rather call in a foreign expert, have him tell us the very same thing in a different manner and tone, and then all of a sudden we are all amazed, clap our hands, pay him or her lots of money and proceed to implement what they have advised. Our graduates, especially, bear the full brunt of this serious lack of faith in ourselves. We always complain that we do not have the required skills forgetting that we spend a lot of resources and time to train our people. Such graduates then do not get the opportunity, responsibility and challenge to actually implement and practise what they have learned; no, we would rather look for further expatriates and foreign skills. I am not saying expatriate skills or foreign skills are not needed, however, when do you train your own people if you do not give them a platform to practise what they have been taught considering that this is the only way they can build up experience which can make them experts? The challenge with this mindset is that we should also remember that people only take you as seriously as you take yourself. Hence, if you do not take your own people seriously, why should anyone else do so? In Iipumbu Sakaria addition, it surely is a fallacy to think others are coming here to develop us while they have their own developmental challenges wherever they are coming from. The last major challenge to truly developing Namibia lies in what I call the ‘colonial mental slavery’. This is something that comes a long way and has serious implications on how we see ourselves and how others see us. The result of colonialism and its brutality has literally created an African race that feels inferior to its European counterparts. This manifests in language, culture, ideology, outlook, religion, beauty, education and development, just to Religion, with all due respect, has certainly played a in this. Not only do we all bow down to white religion, white angels and even a white saviour in the picture of a white Jesus, but we also perpetuate this evil by seeing everything unconstructive or evil as similar to our own skin colour, which is black. mention a few. The easiest way to control someone is to make him or her ridicule themselves and admire others. Colonialism surely managed to achieve this perfectly whilst our governance system and social structure perpetuates it. We ridicule everything that comes from us and glorify everything coming from others. Religion, with all due respect, has part in this. Not only do we all bow down to white religion, white angels and even a white saviour in the picture of a white Jesus, but we also perpetuate this evil by seeing everything unconstructive or evil as similar to our own skin colour, which is black. If that same picture of Jesus were to be drawn in the image of an African, Africans themselves would surely be the it cannot be Jesus. These examples might sound harsh and out of order but they are real. It is only once we realise, without fear and favour, our challenges, that we are able to help ourselves. Again, our plans are generally brilliant, however, in ourselves and colonial mental slavery of looking up to others instead of ourselves, is what hampers our true development. How do we change it? Let us cultivate a change in our attitude, gain faith in our own abilities and address the colonial mental slavery that keeps us at the periphery of development. We can surely do it. * Iipumbu Sakaria is highly interested in the development of his country Namibia and wrote this in his personal capacity.
Friday, February 23 2018| NEW ERA thought leaders 15 Air travel technology predictions for 2018 The pace of technological change is accelerating. Over the last few years the travel experience has become more efficient thanks to new technologies such as mobile internet, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, big-data, internet of things and biometrics. But we are only scratching the surface of their yet to be realized. In 2018 I predict that the following new technologies will continue to transform the passenger journey... 1. Biometric technology A seamless and convenient experience through the airport terminal could soon be a reality thanks to biometric technology. IATA’s One ID project is rapidly moving travel towards a day when will provide the key to a seamless travel experience. One ID works by creating a match between a unique biometric characteristic, a passenger’s Once the match has been made passengers can then then proceed through the terminal checkpoints from the curb to the plane without having to show travel documents. Although a number of African countries and airports are adopting biometric technology to capture passenger data for border control, ultimately we see the technology also being adopted to enhance passengers’ air travel experience. pioneering the use of One ID facial recognition technology to improve terminals. 2. Airline New Distribution Capability (NDC) and ONE order IATA’s New Distribution Capability will address a major challenge for air travelers, which is the gap between how an airline displays its products and services on its own website, versus what it can do in the systems used by most travel agents and online travel sites. On their websites, airlines can display rich content, including product descriptions and graphics such as photos or videos. That’s because airline websites are powered by internet language (XML). But the systems distributing airline tickets through travel agents and online travel sites are largely based on pre-internet technology dating back to the 1970s. These are not capable of easily supporting websites. NDC is closing this gap between airline websites and travel agent systems through the development of a modern, XML-based (internet language) data transmission standard for communications between airlines and travel agents. transparency into an airline’s offerings and the ability to compare offerings between airlines, as well as to personalize their purchase to meet their particular travel, needs regardless of shopping channel. ONE Order builds on the data communications advances made possible by the implementation of the New Distribution Capability. It will result in the gradual disappearance of multiple reservation records associated with a ticket, as well as the e-ticket itself, and any other documents for optional services you Muhammad Al Bakri may have purchased (a premium seat, lounge access, etc.) This will be replaced by a single reference order, just like you get when you order a product (or multiple products) from an online retailer. As a result, travelers will no longer need to juggle between different reference numbers and documents when they travel. With a single reference number they will be easily recognized by all service providers. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already being embraced by industry to improve the passenger experience. Today 14% of airlines and 9% of airports use Chatbot’s with AI technology to communicate effectively with passengers. AI allows simple queries to be handled swiftly, freeing up customer service professionals to tackle And this is set to continue. Beyond Chatbots, AI technology has the potential to revolutionize the travel experience. Imagine having access to a 24-hour personal travel assistant who is able to predict your travel choices, knows your preferences and can create a personal experience for you. AI travel assistants are the future. 4. Blockchain Few technological innovations have received as much interest in the past few years as Blockchain. Although this ingenious secure payment mechanism came to prominence through the recent trading surge in cryptocurrencies, it is unquestionably an invention with immense potential for widespread application and one for passengers and airlines. Few people realize that from the moment you search online for an air ticket to the time you arrive at your destination, the airline is just one of around 26 business partners involved in the aviation chain. Each member of that chain takes a reducing costs for all the partners in the value chain. IATA has therefore begun looking at how a Blockchain payments system could work. Apart from reducing the costs, other advantages include greater transaction speed, resilience, and protection from fraud, since the parties involved in the transaction are no longer relying on a single third party as an intermediary. 5. Remote sensing technology Turbulence is the largest cause of injuries to passengers and crew. And for nervous passengers it’s a nightmare. Today, pilots use multiple sources of information to manage turbulence inflight, from weather radar and charts to information from other pilots and risk of turbulence-related injuries, IATA is developing a turbulence sharing information platform sensed turbulence reports in close collaboration with multiple global airlines and industry stakeholders. manufacturers are exploring the use of new remote sensing technology to make turbulence avoidance even better. The new technology emits pulses of laser light from the plane’s nose, scattering small light in segments, the pulse provides measurement of the wind speed at increments all along the direction of the laser allowing turbulence to containing real-time, aircraft- Beyond that, aircraft be avoided. Conclusion There can be no doubt that these new technologies will transform the passenger experience. But what can’t be guaranteed is the pace of change. Government regulation, resistance to change and cyber security challenges are issues that threaten the speed of development. But what we can be sure of, as we hover on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution, is that the passenger journey of the future will look very different from today. *Muhammad Al Bakri is International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s regional vice-president for Africa and the Middle East.