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The Devil's Elbow at Obudu Ranch, Nigeria

Iby Jerry W. Bird
Photo by MUguette Gourrani

In travel and tourism as in life, there are more than one ways to get to the top! In Cross River State, Nigeria there's the long and winding way up the Devils's Elbow. Then there's the high speed gondola - and for the high and mighty there's a helicopter pad near the conference center. You can also land at a nearby airfield. My first visit to Nigeria was in the fall of 2006, and as luck would have it, the city that won the opportunity to host our ATA Eco Cultural Symposium was Calabar in Cross River State. What is so unique about Calabar? For one thing it is an example of good management, zero tolerance in some key areas and a spirit of optimism far ahead of most destinations we have visited. Credit must go to our host for the event, Governor Donald Duke, who introduced and championed a number of creative ideas. One of them is pictured on this page - a state-of-the-art gondola lift that whisks visitors up to the high plateau where the Obudu Cattle Ranch, established decades ago, has been transformed into a spectacular tourism and world class attraction for important meetings and summits. The lodge operated by South Africa's Protea Hotels group has been resorted and, as expected, the hospitality is outstanding. More information? Please visit - or




Photos courtesy of Cross Ri ver State and Muguette Goufraniinapa - Birth of a Super Oasis

In fall of 2006, our magazine's editorial team was part of an ATA group that was privileged to visit and inspect Calabar's exciting Tinapa project that was in its final stages at the time. Our current mandate is to make sure Africa Travel Magazine's readers and internet viewers in North America and around the world know the true facts about Nigeria's newest treasure of cooperative enterprise. Tinapa is a resort that means business - the business of combing business, pleasure and leisure! Tinapa is the resort that means business - the business of combing business, pleasure and leisure! This will be the first time that anything like this has been experienced in West Africa. No longer will you need to go to Europe, the Far East or America to enjoy the best entertainment, shopping and leisure facilities the world has to offer!

The total Tinapa complex is massive - 80 000 m2 of retail and wholesale emporiums alone. The emporiums feature a borderless, seamless shopping environment - a unique concept that unfolds a new dimension in retailing for the first time in Africa's history! These massive 21st century shopping emporiums will be supported by a vast array of retailers offering everything from exclusive bookshops, specialty CD and DVD outlets, pharmacies to beauty salons, banks and jewellery stores! Plus an incredible entertainment centre including cinemas, food court, internet cafe and games arcade! There will be a dazzling range of six hotels to choose from - accommodation to suit a variety of lifestyles and budgets. The magnificent waterfront development incorporating a Fisherman's Wharf, will showcase even more restaurants, bars and tourist kiosks. Imagine, after an endless night of fun, enjoying a champagne breakfast whilst watching a beautiful sunrise over the azure waters of the Calabar River! And as if that's not enough entertainment there'll be added attractions to indulge in, including a golfer's paradise with driving range and putting green, a jungle carting track, quad biking route, plus a clay pigeon and archery course! Water activities, including water-skiing, parasailing, rowing and canoeing will take place in a luxurious oasis environment! Agri and eco tourism attractions will include a sizeable exotic bird sanctuary, a crocodile farm, a tropical fish farm, a primate rehabilitation centre and much, much more in the sun-drenched waterways of Tinapa! It is the ultimate shop and party till-you-drop leisure centre - a world that is alive twenty-fours a day with a never-ending choice of activities to choose from. Tinapa will provide visitors with a unique tourism experience and the development will fast track growth of the tourism sector in Calabar, Cross River State and Nigeria.


"Tinapa will Regenerate Lost Trading History of Old Calabar, "
President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Governor Donald Duke

We thank our host from the ATA Eco an dcultural Tourism Symposium, Government Donald Duke for a week of surprising and delightful experiences - and for welcoming us to the Governor's mansion for a wind up dinner.

Recent Events: Nigerian Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode (San), invited ATA delegates to participate in the launch of the country's Tourism Master Plan October , 2007 in Abuja, the capital city. The plan aims to position Nigeria as the continent's leading cultural, historical and business tourist destination. Minister Kayode said the plan "was borne out of the Government's firm conviction on the opportunities offered by the sector for sustainable development, especially at the grass roots level, its high potential for enhanced foreign exchange earnings and the environment friendly nature of tourism programmes". He emphasized that tourism provides a variety of new opportunities for improving socio-economic conditions, diversifying the economy, and achieving stability. For more information fax 604 681 6595 or visit our web site:

TINAPA / Obudu Cattle Ranch Resort And Other 5Star Hotels Countdown On Nigerian Tourist Attractions.


 TINAPA And Obudu Ranch Located by the Calabar river and adjacent to the Calabar Free Trade Zone (CFTZ), the "City of TINAPA" project, situated right next to the Calabar Free Port in Adiabo community of Cross River State can simply be described as a 'breath-taking' idea for tourism in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

The eco-tourism project, which is the brainchild of the Cross River State Governor, Mr. Donald Duke, is being developed as an integrated business and leisure resort and is considered to be in the first of its kind in Nigeria and the greater West and Central African sub-regions. Its strategic location in Calabar, in the West African sub-region, and proximity to central Africa, coupled with the huge market potential of the two sub-regions, makes the TINAPA Business Resort an attractive investment.

The complex upon completion is expected to provide international standard wholesale emporiums, integrated shopping complexes and products distribution elements, supported by business tourism and entertainment facilities.

The location of these, in close proximity to a free port on the east-west trading routes provides exciting opportunities for TINAPA to serve as the distribution point into Nigeria for the growing economic hub of West Africa, and also as the ultimate centre for retail and wholesales commercial activities with the ECOWAS sub-region, taking full advantage of the international agreement on free movement.

In addition, TINAPA will incorporate a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for investment opportunities, which will be granted Free Trade Zone status.  The implication of such a move for investors will include among others: exemption from all Federal, State and Local Government taxes, levies and rates; entitlement to approved enterprises to import, free of custom duty, any capital goods, consumer goods, raw materials, components and articles intended to be used with an approved activity; freedom from legislative provision pertaining to taxes, levies, duties and foreign exchange regulation; repatriation of foreign capital on investments in the zone at any time; unrestricted remittance of profits earned by investors, no import or export license, rent free land during the construction stage, there after rent shall be determined by the management of the zone etc.

In a nutshell, through the SPV, TINAPA will provide investors with a robust platform to capture the latent demand in the Nigerian and West African states. It will also provide an unprecedented opportunity for tenants to be part of one of the most exciting retail developments in West Africa (which will cover a vast area exceeding 80,000m2), as trading will take place in state-of-the-art-facilities whilst tax benefits and access to large markets, both in Nigeria and regionally, will create a once-in-a-life time opportunity for tenants to maximize investment returns.

TINAPA, which is modeled after similar resort centres in Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Bombay and Bangkok, is conceptualized as an integrated business and tourism set&endash;up where visitors from within and outside the country would have the opportunity to shop for goods of various kinds of international standard in a friendly environment which offers full leisure, thereby achieving a perfect integration of serious business and leisure.

In order to maximize its potential, the development of TINAPA has been   split into phases. Phase one will consist of the following developments: a warehouse cluster of five warehouses located within the Calabar FTZ; an integrated shopping complex of over 80,000m2 of retail and wholesale emporiums plus an entertainment centre which includes cinemas, food court, games arcade among others; a 150 room two star hotel: a 200 room self&endash;catering apartment hotel; indoor and outdoor leisure facilities including a water park, golf park and go-kart trade; restaurants, big screen cinemas and other entertainments facilities; a cultural village; support services and amenities including sick bay and management offices.

Subsequent phases will include; a hotel and conference complex; two luxury lodges; expanded leisure and entertainment facilities including water sports, quad biking and archery; expanded cultural and educational components including an aviary, aquarium, crocodile farm and primate rehabilitation centre.

Ambitious as the project seems, the idea of TINAPA itself did not come in a day. It had actually been part of a long-held plan by the Cross River State Governor to harness the enormous tourism potentials of the state and translate them into economic benefits for the Government and people of Cross River State.

According to Governor Duke, upon assumption of office in 1999, he was appalled to find that the state was depending almost entirely on the federation account.

As a way of developing the economy of the state, he consequently resolved to focus on two areas of the state's economy namely: agriculture - because of its centrality as employer of over 80 percent of the state's population, and tourism - because of its potentials to launch the state into the comity of fast moving economies of Africa.

Duke's dream to transform Cross River into a tourism wonderland subsequently materialized sometime in 2003, when he appointed a team of experts and consultants to conduct a study on the establishment of an integrated business and tourism resort.

The committee submitted its report in the course of the year, with a strong recommendation of the economic viability of the project.

The adoption of the committee's report led to a firm investment decision by the state government to embark on the project. TINAPA Business Resort was consequently incorporated as a limited liability company with Mr. Chris Anani as Managing Director.

Following its incorporation, a historic ceremony was held in January 2004, during which Gitto Construction Company, an Italian firm, was contracted to kick-start the project especially site surveys and clearance, sand filling and primary access roads.

This was followed by the constitution of a board of directors for the company under the chairmanship of Chief Festus Odimegwu, the Managing Director of Nigeria Breweries Plc. Also on the board are business moguls such as Kunle Elebute, Ahmed Dasuki and Arnold Meg, the Chief Operating Officer of Brawl, one of South Africa's largest facility managers, and the Commissioner for Trade in the State who represents the interest of the state government as project promoters.


The TINAPA dream finally became reality on Thursday January 15, 2005, when the cream of Nigeria's business community gathered at the construction site of the TINAPA Business and Tourism Resort in Adiabo, Calabar Municipality to witness the contract signing ceremony between Cross River State and construction giant, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, for the construction of roads and infrastructural facilities at the complex.

The event which brought together key personalities from corporate Nigeria, state governors, top government functionaries, religious and traditional authorities and professionals of various callings, certainly left no one in doubt as to the strategic importance of the project, as it afforded many the opportunity of having an early feel of the TINAPA action.

Describing the project as one of the best-conceptualized projects he had ever seen in the 17years of his stay in Nigeria, the Managing Director of Julius Berger, Mr. George Marks, remarked that TINAPA had "profound planning, excellent marketing strategies and sound feasibility study".

With the estimated cost put at over $125 billion (N16.6 billion), TINAPA is clearly one of the biggest investments on the African continent. 

Recently, the Federal Government and Cross River State jointly signed a $110 million loan agreement with the ECOWAS Regional Development Fund (ERDF) - a subsidiary of ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID). 

The loan agreement which is equivalent to 6,525,371 units of account was signed by Gov. Duke and the Minister for Cooperation and Integration in Africa, Senator Lawan Gana Guba on behalf of the Cross Rivers Government and the Federal Government, while Mr. Christian Adevolande and Mr. Bathelemy Drabo signed for EBID and ERDF.

Speaking during the signing of the loan agreement, Gov. Duke said that TINAPA has brought meaning to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) noting that the sub region has achieved crucial milestones in integration, free movement and trade.

He also said President Obasanjo had assured that the project would be made a New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) project for economic integration in the continent.


In his remarks, the EBID President, Mr. Christian Adevolande said the TINAPA project was an example of the support for trade by the bank in the sub-region, adding that the development will enhance the position of ECOWAS in world trade.

Back home, the TINAPA project has also been receiving financial support. The Central Bank has approved a number of banks to make a total investment of N5.3 billion into the project and Standard Trust Bank Plc has provided a N5 billion bridge financing facility to ensure a steady progression of construction work at the site. Private placement offers have also been made and arrangements concluded to list the TINAPA Business Resort Limited (TBRL) on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). 


The economic prospects of TINAPA are undoubtedly bright. At the project signing ceremony, Gov. Duke disclosed that the state was targeting at least N300 billion annually from the economic and commercial activities that would be generated at the TINAPA. Hinging his optimism on the feasibility report that at least 3 million people were expected to visit TINAPA annually, the Governor reckoned that if each of those visitors were to carry a minimum of N100, 000 for shopping and leisure (which is by all accounts modest), that would translate into about N300 billion annual inflows into the state.

If the multiplier effect of 3.5 percent was to be applied, then the inflows, according to Gov. Duke, would run into trillions of naira in the first few years after the scheduled launching of the project in September, 2006 - a development the Governor feels the natives of Cross River State should be able to take economic advantage of.


Jim Plannery, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) delegate, who was on President Olusegun Obasanjo's entourage that toured the TINAPA project site in Calabar, recently, also shares Governor Duke's views on the economic viability of TINAPA.

"TINAPA is like giving a message to potential investors to come and multiply," he said. While describing the project as a great vision, which is capable of transforming Nigeria, Plannery said the United Nations had always given endorsement to projects geared towards sustainable development, observing that the tourism resort presents great potentials and business value for investors from across the globe who would want to put their money in a place with a promise. 


Although TINAPA is the "largest single investment on eco-tourism in West Africa" according to Governor Duke, it is only a part of the Governor's dream to make Cross River State a tourism haven. The other aspects of the big dream is the tourism circuit, which entails the development of the Ranch and Leisure Resort at Obudu, the forest canopy walkway, the cable car project at the Obudu Ranch as well as the water front, also in the Ranch.

The Ranch itself has been transformed from a small tourist scene to a Presidential holiday resort with accommodating rooms increased from 80 to over 200. An airstrip has also been constructed to enable landing of big aircrafts, the facilities of which are being managed by Protea Hotels Group

The cable car has already been commissioned by President Olusegun Obasanjo and is expected to convey passengers from the bottom drive stations to the top drive stations. Statistics of the Obudu Cattle Ranch Resort Cable Car, which was constructed by Ponet Nigeria Limited, show that it ascends 1,600 metres high and covers a distance of 4 kilometers. It also drives a speed of 5.00 metres per second, carries 8 passengers per car, with an elevation of twelve towers, 50.00 metres of rope diameter of rope diameter and has 34 transparent cars.


The forest canopy walk way is another project which aims to bring tourists in direct contact with the wild life package the state has to offer. There is also a waterfront being built at the base of the mountain to add to the leisure package of the Obudu Ranch.

The commitment of the Governor to these projects is underscored by the N1 billion budgetary provisions he made this year for completion of work.

On the future of the Ranch, Governor Duke made it clear that it would be privatized to avoid Government interference. "When I go to the Ranch I pay, otherwise, my Commissioners and other top Government functionaries would take advantage," he stated.


He equally gives assurances about the sustainability of the TINAPA project. TINAPA he explains, was conceived to be a classic example of private-public partnership (PPP) whereby the State Government would promote and drive the initiative, but the ownership would be shared by other equity holders, adding that the project will survive regardless of whoever takes over in 2007 because of its relevance to the state and national economy.

He restated that all the projects he is putting in place would outlive his tenure as measures have been put in place to ensure that the emerging governments after him promote and sustain the investments.


The countdown towards the scheduled launching of the TINAPA Business Resort Limited in September 2006 has already begun and preparations are in top gear to usher in the event. One thing stands clear in the midst of the excitement &endash; Calabar and the Nigerian tourism industry will definitely be given a new lease of life through the TINAPA project