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ATLAS regional sections
Africa

 

Coordinator

The contact person for this group is:

  Wilber M. Ahebwa
  Makerere University
  Uganda
 

ahebwawilber@gmail.com

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Annual review of activities 2019


ATLAS-Africa has a membership of around 20 institutions spread over Eastern and Southern Africa. Since its inception in 2000, ATLAS-Africa has managed to organise 11 successful conferences that were held in different countries in Africa. The conferences have attracted participants from different parts of the world, with the majority of the participants coming from Africa. The latest conference organised by ATLAS Africa was held in Kampala, Uganda from 11 to 14 June, 2019. The theme of that conference was Tourism and Innovation. Makerere University organised for the 3th time an ATLAS Africa conference, now in close cooperation with Makerere University Business School.

During the conference it was acknowledged that the growth and development of the travel and tourism industry has been characterised by countless innovations. During the conference a large number of product and service, managerial, marketing and institutional innovations were discussed, as well as ways to improve our understanding of innovativeness in this sector, not the least because innovative capability is a critical factor for industry evolution and survival in light of tight competition, rapid market change and the “contest for the tourist dollar”.

During a meeting of the ATLAS Africa Steering Committee it was agreed to actively look into the possibilities of Horizon 2020 or other sources of research funding, to work early 2020 on a book proposal on tourism in Africa, and to look for better ways to involve students in the ATLAS Africa conferences. The ATLAS secretariat will send out a call for the next conference in September 2019. African institutes interested in hosting the 2021 conference are asked to get in touch with the ATLAS secretariat.
 

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Annual review of activities 2017

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Annual review of activities 2017


In June 2017 we organised the 10th ATLAS Africa conference at Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya, focusing on ‘Africa's Tourism and Travel Competitiveness: Opportunities and challenges’. The theme was selected on the premise that despite exponential growth of tourism in terms of earnings and visitor numbers, Africa still trails other continents in terms of tourist arrivals and receipts. More than 100 participants from Africa and abroad celebrated the fact that ATLAS Africa, founded in 2000, is still a vibrant community of scholars promoting leisure and tourism studies on the African continent. The 11th conference will be hosted by Makerere University and Makerere University Business School, both based in Kampala (Uganda) in June 2019.

The Steering Committee of ATLAS Africa welcomed Joseph Mbaiwa (University of Botswana), Aggie Weighill (Vancouver Island University) and Geoffrey Bakunda (Makerere University Business School) as new members. During their meeting it was decided to actively look for funding for joint research projects and to promote scientific publications based on conference presentations. Marina Novelli (University of Brighton) offered delegates of the ATLAS Africa conference to submit their papers to two journals of which she is Editor in Chief and Co-editor.

 

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Annual review of activities 2015


2015 Dar-es-Salaam conference

The theme of the 9th ATLAS Africa conference focused on the relation between tourism and inclusive growth. Although inclusive growth as a concept is increasingly discussed by academics, international agencies and politicians, linking inclusive growth explicitly to tourism is a relatively new development. Some of the key issues addressed by the concept of inclusive growth are the inclusion of low and middle income groups in the workforce, the creation of productive employment, the promotion of equal opportunities and the reduction of the distribution of inequality as economic growth continues. Although inclusive growth is centred on economic growth, mechanisms driving inclusive growth are not primarily economic, but social, environmental and political as well. Keynotes by Richard Rugimbana (Tanzania), Hannah R. Messerli (USA) and Susan Snyman (South Africa) gave a very good overview of current state of knowledge on inclusive growth. We wish to thank the staff of the University of Dar es Salaam Business School for organising this conference and their hospitality.

Top twenty” (in no specific order) key challenges and opportunities

At the conclusion of the conference, conference participants and a panel chaired by Ernie Heath identified a “top twenty” (in no specific order) key challenges and opportunities that could impact on tourism and inclusive growth in developing economies in Africa (that could be placed on the future tourism research agenda):


1. The perception and reality of tourism safety, security and health issues (e.g. Ebola) should be addressed as strategic priority at all levels for destinations that are serious about enhancing their tourism competitiveness. This should also be a future research priority.

2. The current composition of the tourism value chain in many developing destinations is not conducive to inclusive growth. A strategic evaluation is required to identify and pro-actively address key weak linkages and enhance and leverage those that can add value to Africa’s tourism competitiveness.

3. In various instances, appropriate infrastructure development presents both a major challenge and an opportunity. Convenient and affordable accessibility by air, sea and road is often an impediment. The ability to “seamlessly” travel in and between countries and regions requires strategic research and if appropriately addressed can become a unique selling proposition (USP) for destinations in Africa.

4. In many instances the tourism product range is too limited (often the focus is too much on the wildlife experience) and therefore only appeals to limited market segments. Given Africa’s rich diversity of natural, cultural and adventure offerings, which could appeal to a wide spectrum of global special interest “experience seeker” segments, appropriate research is required to explore innovative ways to broaden the product offering (particularly special-interest experiences) in an imaginative and creative way and to explore ways in which these experiences can be packaged and themed to appeal to a broader base of local, regional and international tourist market segments.

5. Sustainability will increasingly have to be addressed as a non-negotiable cross- cutter by both public and private sector stakeholders and importantly, across the entire value chain. Appropriate research will increasingly be required regarding, for example, the impact of climate change, the responsible management of scarce natural resources, etc.

6. In some instances unfavourable policies, strategies and institutional frameworks are in place, resulting in “planning and analysis paralysis” and unnecessary red tape, which hampers inclusive growth and competitiveness. Appropriate research is required regarding relevant “best-practice” policies, strategies and effective institutional frameworks, which can serve a frame of reference for developing destinations.

7. In many instances tourism is not appropriately “balanced”, resulting in an inequitable distribution of tourism benefits and revenues. Strategic research is required to identify the key issues and provide guidelines for balancing community, industry, tourist and environmental interests and beneficiation in a responsible and future-orientated manner.

8. On a global basis there appears to be a trend away from pure economic growth to responsible and inclusive development. Research is required to determine the challenges and opportunities and possible guidelines for public and private sector tourism stakeholders to focus on responsible and inclusive tourism development in Africa.

9. Appropriate human resources development and capacity building remains a key challenge and priority in developing economies. Appropriate research is required regarding current and future tourism human resources needs, priorities, strategies and best practices, to ensure optimal inclusive growth and sustainable competitiveness.

10. The exponential growth of mobile technology, the World Wide Web and the social media provides major windows of opportunity for developing economies, particularly from a tourism marketing and communications perspective. Relevant research is required to evaluate the key opportunities in the technological sphere and to provide strategic and implementation guidelines for tourism stakeholders to optimally leverage these opportunities.

11. The traditional “tour operator” and “package tourism” situation results in considerable “leakages”, with insufficient benefits and revenue accruing to local stakeholders. Research is required to determine the nature and impact of current distribution channels and to explore innovative and future-oriented ways to ensure that local communities and industry stakeholders equitably share in the benefits and impacts of tourism.

12. The perception and reality of political instability and continuity in various developing economies is a major inhibitor to tourism investment, development and marketing. Research is required regarding the impacts and implications of the political environment and possible strategies to develop and marketing tourism in spite of the political challenges.

13. In many instances, politicians and public and private sector opinion leaders and stakeholders do not understand and appreciate the actual impacts and benefits of tourism to a destination. Research is required to quantify the role and socio-economic impacts of tourism on developing economies, as well as the economic value of sustainable tourism relative to other sectors.

14. The dynamically changing macro, competitive and market environments are posing many new challenges and opportunities to developing economies and requires a culture of fresh, innovative and entrepreneurial thinking and action. Research is required regarding the key lessons from successful leading innovative and entrepreneurial destinations that can be appropriately applied to developing tourism destinations.

15. As the tourism marketplace is becoming increasingly competitive, developing destinations will increasingly have to resort to distinctive branding and clear competitive positioning in the markets that they target. Research is required regarding the latest trends, developments and best-practices regarding destination branding and competitive positioning that can serve as a frame of reference for developing destinations.

16. The traditional tourism marketing approaches and tools are increasingly being complemented and in many instances replaced by innovative and cost-effective web-based marketing tools, with an increasing power-shift to the consumer (e.g. through the social media). Research is required regarding the relevance and cost-effectiveness of the traditional versus the new media and possible strategic guidelines on how to effectively market developing destinations in the future.

17. In some developing destinations, there is increasing concern that very fragile and valuable natural and historical-cultural tourism attractions and resources are being neglected or destroyed. Urgent research and a strategic “audit” is required of current and potential attractions and resources, as well as guidelines on how to ensure that they are protected and where possible further enhanced in a sustainable manner.

18. In many developing economies there are comprehensive and often outdated tourism policies, master plans and strategies in place with insufficient focus on implementation. The need to balance comprehensive policies, plans and strategies with realistic action and actual implementation plans needs to be researched.

19. In many developing economies population growth has a major impact on destination competitiveness. Research is required regarding the relationship between population growth and sustainable tourism development, with a view to ensuring the most balanced and appropriate approaches and strategies for the future.
20. Academic tourism researchers will increasingly be challenged to undertake research that is relevant and future-orientated. The challenge will increasingly be to create knowledge that can contribute to appropriate planning, development, management and marketing of tourism on the part of both public and private sector stakeholders, so as to enhance sustainable tourism competitiveness and inclusive growth. In this regard political and funding issues related to academic research should also be addressed as a priority.

New publications

In 2014-2015 also a number of new publications were issued. First of all again a thematic proceeding of ATLAS Africa conferences (Volume 9), titled Sustainability, Tourism and Africa: A natural link, was published. A 10th Volume will be issued later this year. Two other publications which discuss the current state of tourism in Africa, in which also contributions of ATLAS Africa members can be found, are:

 

 

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Annual review of activities 2014


The best news this year is the publication of a special issue, which emerges from the ATLAS Africa Conference held in Kigali Rwanda.

African tourism & hospitality in global society: Central or peripheral?
Tourism and Hospitality Research (Sage)
Special Double Issue 2014; Vol. 14, No. 1-2
http://thr.sagepub.com/content/14/1-2?etoc

Edited by:
Dr Wilber Manyisa Ahebwa (Makerere University, Uganda) – Chair of ATLAS Africa
Dr Marina Novelli (University of Brighton, UK)




Tourism in Africa and particularly, in the Sub-Saharan Africa is growing at a rate faster than the global tourism industry growth rate (Katongore et al., 2014). The International Monetary Fund (2013) viewpoint for the region remains broadly positive as a gross domestic product growth at 4.75% was registered in 2012, with projected increases to 5.5% for 2013 and 6% for 2014. This implies that Africa is gaining popularity as a long haul destination.

According to a recent World Bank (2013) publication, tourism can be a powerful and meaningful development path for Africa. In fact, a welcome key finding of new research suggests that with effective planning and development, Africa’s tourism industry could create 3.8 million jobs over the next 10 years, with already, one in every 20 jobs in Africa involves the tourism, travel hospitality industry.

Despite this seemingly impressive picture and percentage growth rate, while in the year 2012, the international tourist arrivals totalled to over 1.035 billion, Africa’s market share was only 52 million which is 5% of the global figure (United Nations World Tourism Organisation, 2012).

This gloomy percentage raises a question whether African tourism and hospitality sector is actually central or peripheral in the global context, a question, which we attempt to address in this special issue, which emerges from the ATLAS Africa Conference held in Kigali Rwanda (3-5 June 2013) and includes the following papers:

Editorial

African tourism and hospitality in global society: Central or peripheral?
http://thr.sagepub.com/content/14/1-2/3?etoc
Wilber Manyisa Ahebwa and Marina Novelli

Articles

Spatial analysis of tourism income distribution in the accommodation sector in western Uganda
http://thr.sagepub.com/content/14/1-2/8?etoc
Bright Adiyia, Dominique Vanneste, Anton Van Rompaey, and Wilber Manyisa Ahebwa

Negotiating gender and tourism work: Women’s lived experiences in Uganda
http://thr.sagepub.com/content/14/1-2/27?etoc
Brenda Boonabaana

The impact of ecotourism employment on rural household incomes and social welfare in six southern African countries
http://thr.sagepub.com/content/14/1-2/37?etoc>
Susan Snyman

Tourism in the East African Community (EAC): Challenges, opportunities, and ways forward
http://thr.sagepub.com/content/14/1-2/53?etoc
Moses M Okello and Marina Novelli

Proud to be Dogon: An exploration of the local perspective on cultural tourism and cultural heritage management in Dogon country, Mali
http://thr.sagepub.com/content/14/1-2/67?etoc
Rosalie E van Deursen and Wendy F Raaphorst

The potential for coffee tourism development in Rwanda – Neither black nor white
http://thr.sagepub.com/content/14/1-2/81?etoc
Karthick Anbalagan and Brent Lovelock

Publish or perish: African scholarship in the field of tourism and hospitality studies
http://thr.sagepub.com/content/14/1-2/97?etoc
Aaron KB Yankholmes

Fair Trade Learning: Ethical standards for community-engaged international volunteer tourism
http://thr.sagepub.com/content/14/1-2/108?etoc
Eric Hartman, Cody Morris Paris, and Brandon Blache-Cohen

Book review

Walter van Beek and Annette Schmidt (eds.), African hosts and their guests: Cultural dynamics of tourism.
http://thr.sagepub.com/content/14/1-2/117?etoc
Claudia Dolezal

Tourism and Hospitality Research THR (Sage Journal) is firmly established as an influential and authoritative journal for tourism and hospitality researchers and professionals. THR covers applied research in the context of Tourism and Hospitality in areas such as policy, planning, performance, development, management, strategy, operations, marketing and consumer behavior. We accept papers in other areas within the context of tourism and hospitality provided the paper delivers research with significant implications for tourism and hospitality. Each issue of Tourism and Hospitality Research publishes: detailed, authoritative applied research papers from researchers and practitioners worldwide. We also accept industry Case Studies; Research Notes; Conference Reports; Practitioner Briefings; and Book Reviews that are addressing key issues, challenges and innovative aspects of tourism and hospitality. For more information about Tourism and Hospitality Research, please visit http://thr.sagepub.com/. We look forward to receiving your valuable contribution to THR.

The Editorial Team
Dr Marina Novelli, Dr Clare Weeden and Ioannis Pantelidis, Merz Hoare

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Annual review of activities 2013


Whereas the economic situation in Europe negatively influences numbers of members and conference participants, in Africa the situation seems more favourable. The recent ATLAS Africa conference in Rwanda attracted 158 participants, mainly from Eastern and Southern Africa and Europe. It reflects the importance of tourism for economic development in Africa. Increasing tourist arrivals and spending, even during the recent economic crisis, shows tourism’s significant potential for growth. Between 2009 and 2010, despite the global financial slowdown, international tourists arrivals in Africa jumped by almost 8 percent, making the region the second fastest growing in the world after East Asia and the Pacific. According to a recent World Bank report 1, tourism can be a powerful development path for Africa. In fact, a welcome key finding of new research suggests that with effective planning and development, Africa’s tourism industry could create 3.8 million jobs over the next 10 years. Already, one in every 20 jobs in Africa involves tourism and the travel industry.

Rwanda clearly illustrates these potentials 2. During 2010, Rwanda hosted 666,000 visitors. Comparing 2009 to 2010, international visitors increased by 10% . Obviously the great majority still came from the neighbouring countries with 80% of all visitors. However, in the Non-African markets visitors from Europe increased by 15%, while visitors from Americas increased by 18% compared to 2009. Visitors from the rest of the world including Asia and pacific increased by 27%. It was therefore timely that the newly established Rwanda Tourism University College (RTUC) organized the 8th ATLAS Africa conference, titled African Tourism in Global Society: Central or Peripheral?, which took place from 3-5 June 2013 in Kigali, Rwanda. This conference turned out to be one of the most successful conference ever organized by ATLAS Africa. The large number of participant reflects the increase of tourism scholars in Africa. But the conference also illustrated the ever-increasing quality of tourism research in Africa now that educational and research programmes in universities in countries like Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have found solid ground. A very interesting feature of the Kigali 2013 ATLAS Africa conference was the high number of postgraduate students from especially Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and South-Africa whose various researches covered pertinent issues on sustainable tourism, biodiversity conservation and local community participation. The students presented their research findings in panel presentations. The conference also assisted RTUC to put itself on the map of not only Rwanda, but also the rest of Eastern Africa. Keynote presentations were delivered by Ms. Rica Rwigama, Head of Tourism and Conservation at the Rwanda Development Board, Prof. Richard Sharpley of the University of Central Lancashire and Prof. Moses Makonjio Okello, senior Director of the SFS Centre for Wildlife Management Studies. The conference was officially closed by the Minister of Education, Dr. Vincent Biruta, and the Dutch Ambassador. We would like to thank Callixte Kabera, Rector of the Rwanda Tourism University College (RTUC), his entire staff and staff members of InHolland University of Applied Sciences for organizing this successful event in Kigali.



Publications

During the conference the Board of ATLAS Africa also discussed the publication strategy. So far the proceedings of the 7 conferences were published in 7 different Volumes (please see website of ATLAS). . Volume 8 and 9, consisting of the proceedings of the conference in Kampala, will be published soon. For the Kigali conference it was decided that papers will be published in a special issue in the Tourism and Hospitality Research, the newly established African Journal of Tourism and Hospitality of MOI University Press, and - if necessary – in a new Volume of the ATLAS Africa series.

Forthcoming ATLAS Africa Conference

One of the key roles of ATLAS Africa and indeed the whole network of ATLAS is to promote education and research in tourism and leisure related studies through the holding of conferences, symposia and workshops. Towards that end, ATLAS Africa has over the years held 8 successful conferences in different African countries. In the meeting of the ATLAS Africa Board during this year’s ATLAS conference it was decided to organize the next conference in 2015 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

 1 See: http://www.worldbank.org/afr/tourism
 2 See: http://www.rdb.rw/welcome-to-rwanda/tourism-research-and-statistics.html

 

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Annual review of activities 2011


Introduction
 

Currently, ATLAS Africa has a membership of over 40 institutions spread all over the world. However, due to geographic proximity, most of the ATLAS Africa membership is drawn from various African countries, especially, Eastern, Southern and Central Africa. ATLAS Africa has over the years achieved several accomplishments in the promotion of research initiatives in the field of tourism and leisure studies, curricula development, sharing of information through conference, symposia and workshops, students and staff exchange.
The following is a report on ATLAS Africa. The report is sub-divided into three sections, namely: Kampala 2011 Conference, Projects and forthcoming conference.

Kampala Conference

The bi-annual ATLAS–Africa conference was held in the Picturesque Capital City of Uganda, Kampala from 6th to 8th June, 2011. The theme of the conference was, “Sustainable Tourism and Environmental Education: A natural link”.
This conference turned out to be one of the most successful conference ever organized by ATLAS Africa with about 140 delegates in attendance. The delegates were drawn from different regions of the world including North America, Europe, China, South Asia and Australia with the majority of delegates coming from Africa. Moi University, Kent State and Makerere University had the largest number of delegates with each of this institution represented by over 10 individuals.
The conference was officially opened by Dr. Andrew Seguya, the Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), a quasi-governmental national organization mandated to manage wildlife parks and reserves in Uganda. The Director noted that the conference was being held at the appropriate time when UWA is initiating innovative wildlife conservation and management policies and plans that are aimed at establishing partnerships amongst diverse stakeholders in the public, private sector and local communities.
A very interesting feature of the Kampala 2011 ATLAS Africa conference was the number of postgraduate students from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania whose various researches covered pertinent issues on sustainable tourism, biodiversity conservation and local community participation. The students presented their unique research findings in panel presentations. In the overall, the researches were in concurrence that for biodiversity conservation to succeed, it should be based on local people’s cultural values and socio-economic interests. For instance, it was noted that in many parts of Africa, local people started conservation initiative when they linked it to their existing cultural and/or spiritual values.
However, on the negative side, it was noted that although people from academic and government institutions are usually well represented in most ATLAS Africa conferences, there is poor representation of people from the private sector and local community representatives.
It was agreed that in future ATLAS Africa conferences, concerted effort should be made to attract people from these sectors.
The conference was officially closed by the Executive Director of Uganda Tourist Board, Mr. Cuthbert Baguma who emphasized the role played by the tourism industry in Uganda’s economy. Mr. Baguma particularly praised Makerere University for producing quality graduates in the field of tourism, wildlife management and hospitality management who are currently working in various capacities in the Ugandan tourism industry and conservation organizations.
As is the tradition of ATLAS Africa, at the end of the conference, delegates were taken in pre-arranged tours to Jinja and Entebe in Eastern Uganda. Here, the delegates had a life-time opportunity to participate in various recreational and sight-seeing activities in the serene environment such as boat-riding and water-rafting along the River Nile, and sampling the diverse cultural attractions of Eastern Uganda.

ATLAS Africa Projects
 

The membership of ATLAS Africa has been involved in a number of research related projects. One of the projects is the Delphe project which is funded by the British Council. The project involved research collaboration involving several Universities drawn from Africa and Europe. These institutions included the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Makerere University in Uganda, Moi University in Kenya, Sheffield Hallam University in the UK and Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
The main goal of the Delphe project was to develop capacity in research on Pro-poor Tourism initiatives in East Africa, information sharing and influencing tourism policy in Eastern Africa and the world at large.
Most of the research initiatives have been centred on the famous Bwindi National Park in Western Uganda focusing on the relation between tourism, nature conservation, and poverty alleviation in areas adjacent to the park. One of the field trips also focused on Laikipia in Kenya. Also, most of the research work is being undertaken by PhD students drawn from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.
Furthermore, the Delphe project was closely linked to joint activities of the Universities, the public and private sector organizations in Eastern Africa with an aim of developing a sustainable platform for continuous dialogue, educational and professional development. Through these initiative issues of employability and entrepreneurship for the tourism industry in East Africa were addressed.
Another project that has been undertaken by the ATLAS Africa membership is the ACP-EU Education (EDULINK) supported project. The project involved seven African and three European Universities. In addition, to the Universities that were participating in the Delphe project; the other Universities included Pretoria (South Africa), Gaborone (Botswana), Windhoek (Namibia) and Oulu (Finland). This African-European Academic Alliance for Sustainable Tourism Development, Environmental Sustainability and Poverty Reduction (3A-STEP) project aimed at increasing competitiveness and excellence of Southern and Eastern Africa Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in research and education as relates to sustainable tourism development, environmental sustainability and poverty reduction.
The 3A-STEP project established a research network consisting of 20 researchers drawn from 10 Universities and a team of 12 postgraduate students. Both Delphe and 3a-STEP projects have been concluded in July 2011. In the overall, these projects have strengthened research and educational capacities in Africa.


Forthcoming ATLAS Africa Conference
 

One of the key roles of ATLAS Africa and indeed the whole network of ATLAS is to promote education and research in tourism and leisure related studies through the holding of conferences, symposia and workshops. Towards that end, ATLAS Africa has over the years held 7 successful conferences in different African countries. Apart from this year’s conference in Kampala, Uganda, ATLAS Africa has also held conferences in Mombasa in Kenya, Arusha in Tanzania, Pretoria in South Africa and Kampala. The proceeding of these well attended conferences have been published is several volumes under various titles.
In the meeting of the ATLAS Africa Board during this year’s ATLAS conference several options were put forth as avenues for the next ATLAS Africa conference. These options including, Accra (Ghana), Kigali (Rwanda), Lagos (Nigeria) and the Gambia. It was agreed that the next ATLAS Africa conference will be organized in close cooperation with the Rwanda Tourism University College (RTUC) and held in 2013 in Kigali, Rwanda. Already the ATLAS Africa Board in collaboration with the ATLAS Secretariat have started looking for sponsors for the conference. In this regard, we hereby request members of the ATLAS fraternity willing to assist us in getting possible sponsorship for the Kigali conference to contact us via Email: info@atlas-euro.org.

Prof. John S. Akama, PhD
COORDINATOR, ATLAS AFRICA
 

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mail: info@atlas-euro.org
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