As the elephant rises: Rule-of-law as tourism & investment incentive in reinvented Africa

South African playwright Athol Fugard once stated that when the Rainbow Nation went through its extraordinary emergence from Apartheid, it was like having spent a lifetime in a boxing ring with an opponent and suddenly finding yourself in that ring with nobody else. “You realize you're now to take the gloves off, get out and reinvent yourself”. From the days of independence from colonization to the present, we see such reinvention reflected across Africa. We have long marched to the beat of our own drum in the global marketplace, yet today, amidst the geopolitical shifts following 'Brexit', we enter the proverbial ring with a newfound confidence, backed by hard evidence. The 2016 Africa Prosperity Report, recently released by the Legatum Institute of London, offers insight as to just why, from a foreign investment standpoint, Africa 'rises'. And their proof is most compelling; it is inherent in the resurgences found in consumer confidence in, as but examples, Nigeria and Kenya; the former, an economic powerhouse of the continent; the latter, one of the best-performing economies in the Sub-Sahara with a resurgent tourism sector. Though the results differ with regard to upswings in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), this Report places emphasis on what stays the same - the fact that the strategy deployed by governance and adhered to by the private sector in emerging African economies is uniform – the effective promotion of, implementation of and abidance to rule-of-law. U.S. investors and intrepid tourists eye with interest the stability in the performances of key African economies. They base decisions regarding both travel and investment on vital factors that encapsulate rule-of-law; constraints on government power, lack of corruption, open and accountable leadership, the promotion of fundamental rights, security and regulatory enforcement, to name a few. These investors also take note of the results of rule-of-law in its execution, acknowledging its direct correlation to indicators of growth such as the alleviation of poverty, revitalization of manufacturing and mining amidst commodity crisis, an increase in tourism and decrease in civil unrest. African nations bearing such fruit, such as Liberia and Botswana, provide peace of mind and security when considering integration in to budding markets. And lastly, these investors take a look at facts – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) makes clear the case that a "fair and functioning legal system that conforms to international standards of human rights and rule-of-law is at the precipice of economic growth, security and poverty eradication". And Legatum’s Report also finds that central to prospects of delivering prosperity are four main factors: a diverse economy, respect for civil liberties, personal freedom and effective governance—essentially, rule-of-law in theory and practice. In the era of globalization, the degree of economic liberalization to encourage investment in Africa is more omnipresent than ever, matched only by the rapid expansion of legal development. Dynamic nations across the continent, such as Kenya ($55.24 bn GDP), Ghana ($48.14 bn GDP) and Tanzania ($33.23 bn GDP), have legal systems on par with so-called 'developed' countries and thusly have a higher degree of cohesion. Transaction specialists Kenny Chiu and Rita Chen of ENS Africa have stated that the continent needs to continue to create favorable investment conditions through rule-of-law; there remains “…an opportunity to actively share in the dividends of globalization by establishing legal frameworks that provide equal, reasonable and non-discriminatory law enforcement”. It’s no surprise then that the 2015 World Justice Project Rule of Law Index lists nations that rank highly and seek to amplify rule-of-law administration in direct connection to those of the leading economic drivers of Africa. Now no doubt and sadly, rule-of-law potentially dissuades certain foreign investors of whose intentions are below board. There are challenges such as enforceability, a concern to many investors spurned by good intention turned window-dressing from their partners in governance. However, with an eye on rule-of-law, foreign investment opportunity could not be more abundant when in this current position. I always say that “…the best time to climb on the back of an elephant is when it is on its knees; when it rises, you should be safely on its back". Tourvest, a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) consortium in which I Chair, has been able to prosper due to effective brokerage and management, coupled with the strength found in African socioeconomics, propelled by globalization-born advances in technology, which buttress the need for governmental transparency. With a business offering that ranges from travel management companies through to foreign exchange bureaus and clients including American Express and British Airways, we are proof positive that rule-of-law abidance, in-sync with private-sector accountability, generates opportunity across the continent for the proprietor and consumer alike. Ultimately, weak rule-of-law deprives societies of legal rights and, from such circumstances, the potential to thrive socioeconomically. Effective rule-of-law in all of its forms, as derived from the Legatum Report, is the foundation, the incentive for international investment and the driving force behind our continent’s unlocked potential. It is high time foreign investors and tourists alike take notice of Africa’s willingness to "get out and reinvent ourselves” accordingly.

A South African serial entrepreneur

Robert Gumede is one of South Africa’s most influential and successful entrepreneurs. He talked about his experiences with Stephen Williams. Robert Gumede has had a prolific experience as an entrepreneur, beginning at the early age of seven, when he began to help his mother in her second-hand clothes business. This was in Neilspruit, in northeastern South Africa, close to both the Kruger National Park and the Mozambican border. He describes his home town as “one of the most beautiful parts of South Africa”. But Gumede faced a number of challenges in his early years, being born on the wrong side of the tracks at the height of the apartheid era. One of seven children, his single mother was determined that he should go to school, but finding the fees, as well as money for food and rent, did not come easy. Nevertheless, Gumede has built a business empire, owning a group that covers eight sectors: Investments and Private Equity; Infrastructure and Construction; ICT; Energy; Railways, Mining; Tourism & Hospitality; Water & Sanitation; and Strategic Business Consulting. When asked if he had an entrepreneurial mentor, Gumede immediately credits his mother, who inculcated a spirit of self-reliance in the young man, ensuring that he joined his elder sister in the “family business” of selling second-hand clothes in the neighbourhood. His mother would source the clothes, carefully wash and press them, repairing them if necessary, before he joined his sister calling door-to-door. The Gumedes were not alone in being short of money, and oftentimes customers would have to rely on the credit that could be extended to them. These were early lessons in weighing up commercial risk, evaluating trustworthiness and building client relationships. Lessons that he learnt along the way held him in good stead later in life. Before he had even finished school he had part-time work as a caddy (at a golf club that he now owns), a gardener, a fuel station attendant and a bus conductor. All the while he was a careful observer of how businesses worked successfully. He says with some pride that he currently employs more than 14,000 staff directly, but no one is a better salesperson than he is. Recalling his time as a caddy, he says: “Most golfers were business people, professionals such as medical doctors and the like, and were always surrounded by the successful people. I learned a lot.” But the fact still remained that race divisions were strictly demarcated. “Don’t forget, these were tough times; it was apartheid at its worst,” he says. “I was born in1963 and named after Robert Kennedy, JFK’s brother, but my African name is Matana,” he adds. That was the year of Mandela’s Rivonia Trial, the trial that began the change in South Africa. By the time Gumede entered high school in 1976, the student protest movement was in full swing. When he graduated, he went on to study law before becoming a state prosecutor at Kabokweni Magistrate’s Court. “I grew tired of being part of a process that was jailing people that had no work or food and were being prosecuted for stealing bread or powdered milk to feed their children. “I decided to leave the courts and to pursue my own business interests. That was in 1990 when Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years of imprisonment. I was drafted in by the then Kangwane homeland government to become part of a delegation to the first convention for multiparty democracy in South Africa that laid the foundation for the new constitution.” This brush with politics allowed Gumede to interact with leaders who had previously been detained and he describes being in the presence of Nelson Mandela as “really a great honour”. But Gumede also realised that politics was not for him. “I chose to go the business route as political freedom needed economic freedom to blossom,” he says. He first got to know and love the rest of Africa and what huge potential the continent held before he identified a position with an Anglo-American subsidiary, LTA (now Grinaker-LTA) that was involved in the construction industry. He saw that as an opportunity to learn first-hand what corporate life was all about. As Gumede puts it: “You learnt responsibility, discipline, doing it right the first time, and accountability.” It might have all ended in tears however. Despite doing exceptionally well within the company, winning contracts for more than ZAR50m, and helping to build new infrastructure such a roads and schools, he found his own business, that had received the LTA board’s approval, facing corruption charges. A director had accused him of bribing to secure a ZAR6m school textbook publishing contract. Gumede refuted the accusations completely and told his LTA bosses that it simply was not true. ”I wrote my letter of resignation and reminded them of the millions of rands of business that I had brought to the company without any corrupt practice. I felt insulted that these charges had been brought against me, and that LTA had even listened to them. Frankly, I said that they could keep their job.” After a thorough investigation, the allegations were found to be false and Gumede was exonerated. “The group CEO, my boss, called me to a lunch meeting to apologise but I said ‘I’m not staying’.” Gumede recalls telling him, “I don’t mind continuing to work with you; you can continue paying me, but as a consultant, not an employee.” And it was in this way that Gumede turned what could have been a serious challenge into an opportunity. “I used my pension money to set up my office and that was the beginning of my formal business career. It pushed wind under my wings,” he says. After building a team, and creating a 3,000-strong security guard business, Gumede identified IT services as his next focus. His motivation was in observing that, in the advent of a new democracy in South Africa, the IT service providers were all white-owned companies. “I met with a friend who was working for IBM, and after talking to him I decided to begin a software and services division. The business grew rapidly and today around 70% of the top 100 public listed companies in South Africa are our clients and the government also uses our services.” Gumede says. “It’s a unique position, but just one part of our business today.” In 2009 the British telecom group, BT, made an offer to buy the company for about ZAR2bn but Gumede walked away to keep control when it became clear that BT was less interested in developing a strategic partnership than tying him to an agreement where, after five years, they would have an exclusive right to buy the entire company at a price they could determine. Nevertheless, as one door closes, another opens, and Gumede’s takeover of the struggling IT group Gijima created an even more powerful digital technology arm to the Guma Group’s holdings. Gumede executed a white economic empowerment deal, a black knight saving over 2,000 white jobs. Commenting on BEE, Gumede says: “One questions is its sustainability. If we really want to change the landscape of the economy, we should have a Marshall Plan around food security. We should create commercial farmers … that can create hundreds of thousands of jobs. “I am a major player in the tourism sector through my company, Tourvest, which has the likes of BA, Kenyan and Ethiopian Airlines as global partners. Tourvest also owns hotels, restaurants, airport duty-free shops, travel agencies, American Express FOREX and travel and game lodges.Tourism, just like agriculture, creates sustainable jobs and tourism brings the much-needed tourists who bring foreign currencies to our country for the sake of empowerment. And Tourvest is growing, with businesses in Brazil, the Caribbean, Europe, China and across Africa.” Today, Gumede spends his time and money on philanthropic projectsas well, assisting African countries by investing in building new energy plants to power their economies, as well as building new infrastructure – including railways, and supplying locomotives and rolling stock. NA

China’s private sector should play bigger role in Africa

It's an undeniable fact that China has been contributing to Africa's economy in a way that the former Western colonial powers failed to do for 400 years, with investment mostly from China's State entities helping to address the continent's poor infrastructure, a key obstacle to local economic development. Nevertheless, it is also worth noting that the major force behind closer economic ties between China and African countries has thus far been China's State-owned enterprises (SOEs) expanding into African markets. China's private sector has yet to play an active role in boosting bilateral trade and investment in comparison, which is actually partly to blame for some of the setbacks China has encountered in investing in Africa. For there to be fewer uncertainties facing China's investment in Africa, China's private businesses should eye a bigger role in African markets. In an indication of the still-fragile infrastructure in the African continent, if you want to go from an African country to the next African country, especially from the north to the west, you are better off flying to Europe and then to the African country you want to get to, even if it is just across your border. In Africa, we have a saying. In South Africa where there are proper roads, if you drive in an uneven pattern on the road, we know that you're drunk; however, in other African countries, maybe most of them, if you drive in a straight line, we know you are drunk, because there will be potholes. A five kilometer road can take you a day to get across. In a continent of almost 1.4 billion people, the infrastructure challenges make it impossible to export countries' natural mineral resources. So the biggest challenge for Africa is internal trade. But unlike China, where SOEs can be an engine of the economy, African countries that have tried to establish state-owned enterprises have largely failed, for various reasons, such as corruption, a lack of capacity in management and a lack of finance to invest. The former Western colonial powers, therefore, should feel embarrassed that they haven't helped in developing the continent's economy. They never considered developing a strong middle class in these countries. Without a strong middle class, these African countries will not be able to generate taxes, which are needed for them to stop relying on aid. China has made its contribution not only by helping with infrastructure, but also with issues of hunger, healthcare and education. China also demonstrated its sincerity and ability to help with the recent Ebola situation. Even when the Americans came, they were dwarfed by what China was able to do. However, there is still a missing link: China hasn't made enough efforts in partnering with local African businessmen. China's investment in Africa has been mostly driven by SOEs, which are used to working with the government. As a consequence, India is now the next competitor to China in the continent, because unlike China, India's private sector has a heftier engagement with their fellow African businessmen. As more African enterprises become stronger, Chinese investment in the continent will be safer, as political powers cannot survive without getting support from local businessmen. Some of the trouble China's State entities have faced over the years is mainly because they have a relationship with the sitting president, while the next sitting president would likely be against them. But if China's private sector would think seriously about forging partnerships with their African counterparts, it would be a different scenario. Chinese investors partnering with local businessmen would be seen as not taking all the profits out of Africa. Additionally, local businessmen would also lobby against politically motivated hostile attitudes to protect their own business, and that would help in protecting the businesses of their Chinese partners. The best time to be in Africa is when it still has challenges, so when the elephant rises, it must rise with you on top of it; that is what business entrepreneurship is all about. It is advisable that China's private businesses should go in a way that no ordinary man would want to go, so they can benefit from first mover advantages. The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Li Qiaoyi based on a recent interview in Beijing with Robert Matana Gumede, founder and executive chairman of the Guma Group, a Pan-African multi-disciplinary investment firm. [email protected]

The Black Knight Of Africa: How Robert Gumede is Expanding His Legacy Across the Continent

Robert Gumede is one of Africa’s most accomplished business leaders and investors. The 55 year-old South African entrepreneur is the founder of the Guma Group, a leading black-owned investment company with businesses spanning Information Technology, mining, tourism, infrastructure development, hospitality and energy in several African countries. Gumede is most popular for founding Gijima Group, an ICT company that provides application services, infrastructure configuration and end-to-end managed outsource services to clients across Southern Africa, but his business interests toay are far more extensive. Gumede is also one of South Africa’s most recognizable philanthropists. His charity, the Keni Foundation, has given away millions of dollars in scholarships to poor South African students. I recently caught up with Gumede, who is popularly referred to as the ‘Black Knight’ in South Africa’s social circles. He recounted his humble beginnings, mused on Sino-Africa relations, and talked about his philanthropic activities among other issues. You are one of the most successful and recognizable business leaders in Africa today. But what’s the background story of Robert Gumede? I was born one of seven children amidst the socioeconomic and political climate of apartheid; the same year Nelson Mandela was sentenced to prison for life. I was raised in Nelspruit, perhaps the most beautiful part of South Africa, parented by my single mother and grandmother. I started off my professional business career at the age of 7. As a 7-year-old young man, I would caddie at the Nelspurit Golf Club for prominent farmers and businesspersons that I came to admire. These people were extremely successful and I was captivated by their passion for their various businesses and their incredible drive to succeed. I always kept it at the back of my mind that I wanted to become successful like these people. As time went on, I proceeded to study Law at the University of Zululand and eventually became a Lawyer. But while serving as a prosecutor at the Kabokweni Magistrate’s Court early in my professional life, I grew tired of witnessing the sentencing of men and women who committed petty crimes like stealing milk to feed their families. Deep down, I knew I wanted to follow in the footsteps of the entrepreneurs I grew up admiring and build my own successful enterprise. So in 1988, I started Gijima Electronic And Security Systems (Pty) Ltd, which is the flagship company of Guma Group. In 1992, I moved to Johannesburg – the City of Gold’ to build the business from there. I opened a small office – Guma Group’s first office, in a basement located within an industrial park. As we were a relatively new business, I had to learn effective networking and marketing to win clients. Before long, our business prospered. In 1999 I listed the company on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and the sale of some of my stake in the company gave me the liquidity to make other smart and timely investments in tourism, hospitality, property development and mineral exploration. And we are still expanding and investing into new businesses in Africa and beyond. During apartheid, black people were not allowed to play economic contributory roles of value. After the demise of apartheid, the Mandela government introduced a scheme to bring black people in to the mainstream economy through what we called ‘Black Economic Empowerment’ (BEE). Against the mantra of BEE, I took on the white-owned I.T. enterprise AST and through entrepreneurial flare in doing so, I saved over 2,000 white jobs; instead of BEE, I executed a “White Economic Empowerment ” (WEE) initiative, one achieved by its ‘Black Knight’, ergo the moniker. With the Guma Group of Companies today operating in over 32 countries, with over 12,000 staff members and international clients and partners including British Airways and American Express, we are unlike any offering on the continent; in fact, years ago, you would never think the Duty-Free trolleys rolling through BA airline aisles worldwide would be owned by an African boy ‘from the village’. Yet they are; I choose to believe in this unique differentiation achieved by hard work matched by ingenuity, entrepreneurial traits inherent to Africa. What new business territories are you venturing into in the near future? We seek to expand our operations into new sectors such as renewable energy, information technology for taxation and population registration with a citizen card, and water purification among other things. I think it’s unfortunate that Africa is home to most of the world’s fresh water reserves and yet so many people across Africa struggle to get clean water to drink. This is tragic, and the Guma Group is exploring ways to address this problem for Africa’s poorest people. Currently, we have interests across the continent and with international partners beyond our borders, such as China. We are consistently exploring new regions to expand our investments, innovate where we can and deploy our present portfolio. ‘Where’ region-specifically is a particularly intriguing question; we seek to enhance development throughout the Southern African Development Community (or SADC); North Africa, such as Egypt; the Economic Community of West African States (or ECOWAS) such as Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria. Regarding Nigeria, I must recognize fellow African entrepreneurial minds such as Aliko Dangote, who has embarked on a terrific professional journey which had roots in the cement manufacturing industry. Proud of his achievements, where he crafts cement, I use it to build roads, dams and major throughways where we presently operate and indeed where we seek to grow. Lastly, when people refer to ‘Black Africa’ today, they do not mean pigment of our African skins; they mean the way our continent looks from Space versus the West and the deserts of the Middle East - We must create lasting change for the next generation and work together to light up the continent and compete effectively in a globalizing marketplace. We have concurrently witnessed tremendous integration from China in Pan-African emerging markets; what can be drawn from the dichotomy between Sino-African enterprises and the West’s trepidation? There is no question the West is lagging behind China as it pertains to integration and doing business effectively in Africa. This isn’t new. As I’ve stated many times, it remains undeniable that China has been contributing to Africa’s economy in a way that the former Western colonial powers failed to do for over 400 years. Opportunities for mutual benefit in Africa are being squandered in the West and bearing fruit in the East, with China’s President Xi Jinping this year pledging to invest $60 billion in African States. In fact, Scott Eisner, vice-president of African affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, has said himself that the US “…has a small window in the next couple of years before China, India and Brazil compete or partner on the continent and trade relations are theirs to own almost exclusively’”. However, at present, we find the West setting up private equity that compete against local African businessmen instead of channeling funding through partnership and directly with like-minded entrepreneurs and providing a debt instrument that is competitive. We seek to raise awareness to the opportunities available for the Chinese private sector to continue to compete, continue to integrate and to do so with efficiency by partnering with local businessmen as opposed to State Owned Enterprise to State Owned Enterprise; our approach is a mutually beneficial and socially responsible endeavor. How best can South Africa reinvigorate dynamism from within and promote the opportunity it offers to international investors? Where many may see challenge, I see opportunity. This downturn has perhaps for the first time in our democracy got government and the private sector to work closer together. However, it is no doubt extremely crucial that we restore foreign integration and domestic market confidence to increase GDP and enthusiastically promote the wide array of opportunities available for investment in the country. As Africans, we must demand more from our leadership at all levels. They must respect the rule-of-law and promote best practices in governance. We must also demand more from our fellow successful entrepreneurs and ensure that they give back to their local communities and economically empower others. Also, we must do more in letting the world know that we are open for responsible, efficient business and that South Africa is a vital throughway for the continent. To S&P, to the greater international community, I will say this and it’s an adage I use often – “It is best to climb on the back of an elephant when it is on its knees. For when the elephant rises, it must rise with you on top of its back”; that is what entrepreneurship in Africa is all about. You’ve given millions of dollars in charitable donations in South Africa through your Keni Foundation. Why do you feel it is important for the business community to be more philanthropic? Africa simply cannot wait for foreign businessmen like Bill Gates to bring in billions of dollars to assist the continent. It is also high time Africa stopped being seen as a basket case and rather the breadbasket for which it should be. Those of us who have made it through the opportunities created by our forefathers have a moral responsibility to empower those who have not been as fortunate. I love giving scholarships and supporting educational causes because I believe that education is the bedrock of world-class aspirations. However, it is social responsibility, with particular regard to the private sector that instills investor confidence and assuages integration concerns. We must look to ensure the future of the next generation of African leadership in public and private life is one of equal and ample opportunity. The Robert Gumede Family Keni Foundation (RGFKF) was formed in 2010 and is a wholly broad based, black empowerment family trust, with a key role being to contribute to vulnerable communities, give back and thereby create a climate conducive for sustainable development, with societal value throughout. Any last words? For Africans to continue to thrive, we need certainty, rule of law, stability, overarching opportunity and determined leadership. Leaders like President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia (once a war-torn country, this strong woman is the first democratically-elected female President on the continent) and private sector thought leaders marking their own path will steward Africa’s renaissance.

Spotlight On SA-Based Tourvest, No. 3 Inflight Retail Operator In The World.

In the fast-growing world of airline onboard shopping, South Africa-based Tourvest is one of the top three operators of inflight retail. Airlines are constantly struggling to generate revenue while competition forces them to drive down ticket prices. One way they do this is through inflight retail sales. The airline onboard retail industry has been growing annually at an average rate of 12.9 percent since 2012, with $5 billion-plus in sales in 2014, travel intelligence company GuestLogix reported in December. Much of that growth was led by passengers buying food, beverages, inflight entertainment, duty free and travel retail products onboard. Rated among the top three inflight retail operators in the world, Tourvest has an annual turnover in excess of $160 million, TravelRetailBusiness reported. Tourvest recently won a contract to operate the inflight duty free program and provide technical expertise to Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s fastest growing and most profitable airline. The company already does business in key African markets including South African Airways, Kenya Airways and TAAG (Angola), plus international routes operating elsewhere in the world. Strategically it is well positioned in the distribution of inflight duty free product on the African continent, given its experience, said Tourvest CEO Clive Jones. The latest win for Tourvest is a prestigious one, considering Ethiopian Airlines’ reputation in Africa and beyond, Jones said. Ethiopian Airlines has 76 aircraft in operation with another 42 on order, delivering a service to over 7 million passengers a year in 92 international destinations and five continents. Tourvest operates businesses ranging from travel management companies and souvenir shops to foreign exchange bureaus. Targeting diverse customer segments is part of the company’s strategy. That way, it’s less devastating when, for example, government travel cutbacks are targeted by countries imposing austerity measures. The South African Treasury in March introduced new measures to contain costs that concern the travel industry, Moneyweb reported. Tourvest invested significantly in technology to help the South African government save money, according to Claude Vankeirsbilck, chief sales and marketing officer of Tourvest Travel Services. Government travel spending is a significant portion of business travel in South Africa and any measure to reduce it will have an impact on profits and jobs in the industry, Vankeirsbilck said. To maximize commercial opportunities, Tourvest says it aims to build equity in multiple brands. While growing its Southern African businesses, Tourvest is expanding its offshore exposure to reduce reliance on a single market and currency. This led to the growth of its inflight duty-free operation which was recently awarded the British Airways global concession for inflight retail, as well as Vueling, the largest low-cost carrier in Southern Europe based in Barcelona. Full-service carriers account for roughly 60 percent of sales growth in airline onboard retail since 2012, but sales for low-cost carriers are growing at nearly double the rate of full service carriers, according to the GuestLogix Airline Onboard Retail Market Assessment 2015. “An evolving retailing sophistication, combined with passengers’ willingness to pay for a better travel experience, contributed to significant inflight retail market growth,” said Dan Thompson, a spokesman for GuestLogix. “Global airlines have achieved substantial revenue growth from onboard retail activities, primarily through the sale of food and beverage and duty free. In 2016, we’re going to see onboard technology, product and service offerings, access points and payment methods continue to evolve and expand.” Expanded payment options for inflight retail Expanded payment options will give passengers more choices in the Tourvest-Ethiopian Airlines partnership, said Tewolde Gebremariam, Ethiopian group CEO. “This cooperation with Tourvest will help us to widen the choices of our Sky Duty Free retail with the best-in-class product varieties and with new services like pre-flight E-commerce orders through our website and with more convenient forms of payment in cash – or various credit cards delivered by their TourPOS (Tourvest Point of Sale) inflight tablet device,” Gebremariam said. In addition to serving 50 million customers on 300 routes, Tourvest also does training and support for the 28,000 inflight crew members in its client base. It handles end-to-end software and hardware solutions, warehouse management software and tablet-based point-of-sale devices. Tobacco, wine and spirits, and fragrances and cosmetics account for 70 percent of inflight duty free and travel retail sales. However, onboard buying trends differ by region. For example tobacco, wine and spirits are a larger percentage of overall sales in Africa, Europe and the Middle East (44 percent) compared to Asia Pacific (12 percent). The onboard retail market remains strong and will continue to serve as a major area of growth and focus for airlines worldwide, according to the GuestLogix report.