NYUNGWE FOREST BUFFER ZONE ALLOCATED TO ‘NEW FORESTS COMPANY’
Conservationists in Rwanda and the region were both pleased as well as surprised, when the Government of Rwanda through the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Rwanda Development Board earlier in the week signed a long term agreement with UK based ‘New Forests Company’, represented by their CEO Julian Ozanne.
NFC is no stranger to East Africa, having established itself 5 years ago already in Uganda, where the track record of the company, in a sector otherwise riddled with irregularities and controversies, is totally above board (refer to earlier articles on the woes of the National Forest Authority, forest encroachments and ill considered forest give aways impacting on the substance of forest conservation in Uganda).
The New Forests Company will take charge of the buffer zone immediately following the signing of the long term contract by the Minister for Natural Resources Hon. Stanislas Kamanzi.
The extensive ‘buffer zone’ comprises over 11.000 hectares of land and through re-forestation and targeted harvesting some over 1.000 jobs will be created for Rwandans.
Sections of the buffer zone are presently under tea plantations while other areas are bare of trees and will be re-planted with a mix of seedlings to avoid monocultures and promote the growth of indigenous hardwood trees alongside the commercial types of pine trees which will support, when mature, the growing demand for timber. Conservation policies turned into meaningful action with partners who can and will deliver on the country’s aim and declared objective to reach a 30 percent forest again cover by 2020.
Well done Rwanda!
SPECULATION GROWS OVER KEMPINSKI SUCCESSION
When the owning company of the Kilimanjaro Hotel in Dar es Salaam and the Bilila Lodge in the Serengeti announced that they were parting company with Kempinski, only weeks after this global hospitality giant lost the management of their Zanzibar property, both sides played down the effects it would have on their operations. While the owners left it open who would come in to manage the Kilimanjaro in Dar es Salaam and the Bilila Serengeti Lodge – there is intense speculation that another hospitality giant may come in to replace Kempinski, it is the latter which has to go back to the drawing board on their intended presence in East Africa.
While reportedly on course to enter the Nairobi hotel market, the loss of three properties in quick succession in Tanzania is certainly not good news and makes poor reading on the company’s ‘CV’, as it tries to find answers to what went wrong and where it went wrong and how to make an impression of the group’s true pedigree in Eastern Africa.
As Mariott is due to open in Kigali next year, they are also expected to seek expansion opportunities for more hotels in the wider region, including Kenya and Tanzania while in contrast Kindom Hotel’s brands like Fairmont have taken a more defensive role of late, after selling the Aberdare Country Club and The Ark to the Uganda based Madhvani Group.
Whichever or whoever it will be, taking control of the Kilimanjaro and the Bilila on 01st of August this year, be sure to read it right here.
TEA MOVES AHEAD OF TOURISM IN KENYA’S FOREX EARNINGS
Tourism stakeholders will wake up to a shock today when they read headlines announcing that their darling sector has been dislodged from the top of the foreign exchange earners list by the tea sector, which came just short of 100 billion Kenya Shillings last financial year according to data now available.
The tourism industry in Kenya, posting an all time arrival and revenue record last year, is presently between 15 to 20 percent ahead of last year’s performance and will, according to a regular contributing source in Nairobi, ‘reclaim our place on top very soon’.
Efforts to increase arrivals yet more however now depend on the country’s ability to attract more airlines to open routes from new and emerging market places to Nairobi, while also encouraging airlines already flying to Nairobi to come more often or use larger aircraft on the route to satisfy growing demand. This however put the spotlight on the Kenya Airports Authority which has been ‘dilly-dallying’ over the expansion of Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for too long according to a frequent source from JKIA. ‘We need that second runway now now’ he said in a telephone conversation while discussing KAA and KQ issues overnight, ‘but they keep messing up what we have right now with powercuts which ground all traffic and then the explosion of a water boiler recently. It shows we are not dealing with real professionals at KAA but bureaucrats. They need people from the airline industry in their ranks to finally understand our needs and respond to them in a timely manner’.
As Kenya’s tourism sector, booming as it is, depends to nearly 100 percent on arrivals of visitors by air, the aviation infrastructure is seen as a crucial component in ensuring long term growth and meeting the intermediate target of 2 million tourists coming to Kenya.
Watch this space.
KENYA AIRWAYS ON EXPANSION PATH
No sooner had news broken yesterday afternoon about the ambitions of Kenya Airways to break into the profitable cargo market by acquiring one B747-400F and two B737F, came more information out of their Embakasi headquarters that they have signed a deal with global aircraft leasing giant GECAS for the delivery of two additional B777-300ER in late 2012 and early 2013.
The long delay in getting their ordered B787 on line made intercontinental growth for Kenya Airways very difficult, a source in Nairobi conceded, affecting the airline’s ability to add frequencies and new destinations due to lack of aircraft. The source was however not willing to speculate on further delays in the delivery of their ‘Dreamliners’ and was only ready to admit that the addition of the two B777’s was ‘necessary in view of the circumstances’. The two aircraft will feature KQ’s ‘classic’ C and Y configuration with true ‘flat beds’ in the business class section of the aircraft and a ‘comfortable but not over the top’ economy class configuration.
Kenya Airways is on course to add their planned 7 new destinations this year and has confirmed the addition of a further at least 7 new destinations next year, most expected to be in Africa where KQ will by the end of 2013 connect all African capitals or key commercial cities with Nairobi. A few weeks ago the airline announced their financial results for the 2010/11 financial year, showing a firm return into the profit margins inspite of rising fuel prices, a strong competitive environment in Kenya, the wider East African region and on their international routes where in particular Gulf based airlines continue to siphon off Kenya Airways’ connecting traffic from West Africa to the Near, Far and South East. ‘The Pride of Africa’ also recently surprised the public, though not aviation analysts, when they placed an order for a further 10 Embraer E190 jets with options for 10 more Embraer aircraft, which will all be used on domestic, regional and select African routes where the airline’s B737-800 is considered too large.
Watch this space for the most up to date aviation news from East Africa and the Indian Ocean region.
KANYEIHAMBA COMMISSION CALLS FORMER MINISTER ‘INCOMPETENT’
‘Your submission indicates that you were incompetent as a minister’ were the words used by controversial retired Supreme Court Justice George Kanyeihamba, after the immediate past Minister of State for Tourism Serapio Rukundo gave his testimony, having been summoned too by the Commission of Enquiry.
Often called ‘Otafire’s kangaroo court’, going by public comments and social network contributions, the commission has been delving into the PAMSU project undertaken by UWA and financed largely by World Bank loans. Often quoted in the media for complaining about uncooperative witnesses, alleged office break ins and lack of funds, the commission is seen as the long end of ‘Otafire’s misrule’ at the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry and few expect to see anyone who was ever mentioned or appeared before the commission to escape without at least some mud thrown at them.
Local media too made a mess when publishing allegations made before the commission about the Rhino Fund Uganda and the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, and only most reluctantly published the statement of fact submitted to them by RFU’s Executive Director Angie Genade, with their ‘journalists’ present at the enquiry’s sittings often frankly lacking the capacity to correctly reflect and interpret of what is the truth and what is fiction.
That said, former state minister Rukundo is also awaiting details from the office of the Inspector General of Government, which is investigating allegation of misuse of CHOGM funds from back in 2007, if he is to be prosecuted over his alleged involvement.
Rukundo lost his re-election bid during the general elections earlier this year and was subsequently dropped from his ministerial position.
NO FOUL PLAY IN CAA TENDER AWARD
‘That was pure malice from complainants and frankly incompetence from the PPDA for falling into that trap in the first place’ was the tenor of comments made off the record by sources close to the Civil Aviation Authority, when news broke yesterday that the tender award for the design of the aerodromes in Kasese and Gulu was finally cleared of any wrongdoings and misconduct.
Gauff Consulting had won the tender with the lowest quotations, upsetting a competing firm which according to the source had offered the highest prices for the services, only to cry foul when not being considered.
Sadly, the much needed redress of complaints, to the Inspector General of Government or to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority is now habitually being used to vent individual or collective envy and greed symptoms when not successfully bidding for projects under public procurement rules, and has often been cited as a major cause for delays, in this case the long overdue improvements of two crucial aerodromes in border regions of Uganda, Kasese in the West along the border with Congo and Gulu in the North along the border with the now independent Republic of South Sudan.
According to the same source Gauff is now going ahead to prepare the design proposals ‘after they were punished for giving the best quotation through the bad use of provisions to complain’.
Expect further updates here on progress about the upcoming work and expansion of Uganda’s aviation infrastructure.
PARLIAMENTS EGO TRIP ENDS IN DARKNESS TOO
The Ugandan public wasted no time in jubilating when word spread yesterday that Parliament, the source of much of the country sitting in darkness at present night after night, was finally given a dose of their own medicine when ‘loadshedding’ reached the chambers of the house. MP’s reportedly slowly filed out of the main chamber, after the generator also failed to work, with some hard heads immediately blaming UMEME for ‘retaliation’, which if at all true – though definitely not expected to be – would only increase the ‘Schadenfreude’ of ordinary Ugandans. Social media networks in Kampala were immediately teeming with acid comments, some demanding that power remains cut until parliament votes to release the required funds to government to clear subsidies backlogs and get production of electricity in full swing again, while yet others demanded that the houses of MP’s be cut off too until the relent and get down from their high horses and stop antagonizing the country with their eccentric ego trips.
Business on previous days too had reportedly been interrupted several times by powercuts, driving the message home loud and clear that parliament does not work in isolation from reality and should equally suffer from such problems as normal Ugandans do too.
And as this story is filed, what else, there is no electricity and light provided again via an inverter battery back up system.