RWANDA OPENS CONSULATE AND RDB LIAISON OFFICE IN ISTANBUL
Diplomatic and business ties between Turkey and Rwanda are bound to benefit from the opening of a Consulate in Istanbul earlier in the week.
This was followed by the establishment of a liaison office by the Rwanda Development Board, aimed to promote investment and trade, but also tourism, ahead of the start of direct flights by Turkish Airlines between Istanbul and Kigali next year.
Notably had RwandAir preceded this development by signing an extensive cooperation agreement with Turkish Airlines a few weeks ago, which will cover schedule harmonization and codeshares extending into the respective destination networks, training and maintenance support and other areas of mutual benefit and interests. Turkish, one of the fastest growing members of the worlds leading Star Alliance only this week confirmed another order of 35 B737-800 aircraft, the same now used by RwandAir, to expand their network from Istanbul into Africa, which will from April next year include flights to Kigali.
RwandAir is expecting a second B737-800 in the second half of October, bringing their fleet to 7 aircraft at the time and permitting the introduction of more destinations and frequencies.
Meanwhile though has Rwanda again shown that business and politics can go hand in hand to the benefit of the countrys future development.
Archive for September 17th, 2011
RWANDA OPENS CONSULATE AND RDB LIAISON OFFICE IN ISTANBUL
CURRENCY DEVALUATION AND FLUCTUATIONS MAY FAST TRACK COMMON CURRENCY
The present slide in the currency values of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, though notably not in the more austere Rwanda, has given rise to hope that Central Bank chiefs and economists may be able to persuade their political masters that the time is ripe to make a final push for a common East African currency.
While eyeing the events in Europe, where the precarious situation of countries like Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal have put pressure on the Euro, regional economists privately say that had it not been for the Euro those countries could have gone bust already as the other European countries might not have been under such pressure to arrange for bailout packages.
The same source also said: For East Africa to become one economic zone, to promote free flow of goods within the region, a single currency will make this easier as exchange transactions between our currencies, or worse the use of a foreign hard currency like the Dollar for payments, can then be expired and a lot of savings generated. As more of our citizens work across the region they can also send money home without losing on exchange transactions. Our banks must open up too and stop making transfers from one member country to the next a matter of going via New York or London. They must establish a mechanism that transfers within the region should be as simple as transfers within a member states banking system.
All this will be simplified by the use of a common currency unit which in itself can lead to greater integration with passports looking the same and just showing the issuing country as an identifying feature, driving licenses, kipandes [local word for ID cards] and a lot more. Insurers could follow by offering coverage for cars extending across the region, like in the old days when scheduled territories were on the documents to explain the validity. East Africa has a huge economic potential, and our tourist industries will also benefit from using one common currency, it will attract interest to explore our neighbours attractions also.
The envisaged monetary union is part of already existing protocols between member states and officially due to be in place by the end of 2012, though doubts on the time frame have emerged repeatedly over past years. The current runaway inflation and sliding currency values however may now prompt timely action to bring about a more stable common currency unit for the benefit of the regional economies overall. Watch this space.
ITS ENGLISH OR ELSE
Information was obtained from Arusha that the Council of Ministers had finally discussed the application by Burundi to have French made an official language of the East African Community, and reportedly rejected the suggestion. Official were however swift, when the news broke, to play down the snub as it is perceived in Burundi, by claiming a final decision would still be made some time in the future.
However, there is growing sentiment in the region that only English and Kiswahili should be used across the EAC, English as the language of record and official language while Kiswahili was to be promoted as the language of the people and lingua franca.
If correct therefore the decision will also serve notice to other would be applicants, that English is and will remain the principal language of the EAC.
In contrast to Burundi has Rwanda ditched the French language and elevated English to be the medium of instruction in schools, and the commonly used language in business transactions, though French is still spoken but has been overtaken as second language by Kinyarwanda, the local vernacular also understood in Burundi and parts of neighbouring Uganda.
The language barrier has often been cited as an obstacle for Burundi of doing more business within the East African Community and is also thought to be a contributing factor seen by this correspondent that feedback and information from Burundis tourism sector, to be featured in articles, is extremely slow in coming. Government in Bujumbura has also been told, according to a reliable source in Arusha, to step up the teaching of English in schools and the wider use of the language in the business community to be able to interact with the rest of the region with greater ease.
Next applicant, the Republic of South Sudan, is an English speaking country already, as is potential applicant Ethiopia, but others in the region, like the Comoros Islands have retained French as their main language, giving them some challenges to resolve before they are ready to apply for membership of the EAC. Fodder for thought for sure as other issues like a common currency and further economic and political integration continue to dominate the agenda.
FLY DUBAI SILENCE IS DEAFENING A PLATFORM FOR A COMPLAINT
While in Dubai recently on a flying visit I had contact with some friends but as the events played out we did not meet due to the packed programme. However, knowing what I do and what I mainly write about the friend used the opportunity to share a passenger complaint with me about an experience on Fly Dubai, to which the airline reportedly has not responded.
I had given Fly Dubai some mention in the past, like when they commenced flights to Addis Ababa, but being a low cost airline surely does not preclude having staff dealing with such events as described in Mr. Eisa Abdelgalils email, which is reproduced here so that others too can learn a lesson or else share their trials and tribulations at the hands of airline staff going AWOL at the most inopportune times:
Re. Notorious flight No. FZ 634 from Khartoum to Dubai
I am referring to Fly Dubai flight number FZ 634 Khartoum-Dubai, which was scheduled for Friday 9 September 2011. The flight was supposed to leave Khartoum airport at 12:20 at noon (by Sudan local time) and arrive Dubai airport terminal 2 at 17:25 by UAE local time. After checking in, passing through the immigration and customs procedures at Khartoum airport, boarding the plane, the plane took off a little bit later than the scheduled time. Shortly after the take off, the passengers noticed that the plane was flying unsteadily and moving in a circle and it became clear there was something not OK with the plane. Then the captain told the passengers that the plane had small technical problem and the crew was contacting the head quarter to fix the problem. This was all the information that was given to the passengers who at this point became very worried. The plane continued flying unsteadily at a low altitude and no one knows what is going on since no further information was given to us. After some time, the captain told us that the plane would return to Khartoum airport due to a technical problem and this return journey would take about 15 minutes. Finally, we landed at Khartoum airport and the landing was rough and the passengers felt that bumpy landing. Then all passengers were taken to the waiting hall at Khartoum airport and were told to stay there till further notice. The waiting room had no any facilities except for the seats and the air-conditioning, which was very cold and most passengers were shivering with cold, especially the poor children. After protesting the situation to the airport authorities, they allowed us to go to another waiting hall with some facilities such refreshments and toilet rooms but Fly Dubai did not offer us any food or refreshments. Till this time, no one from Fly Dubai Company has talked to the passengers; it seemed they were deliberately avoiding the angry passengers. The passengers were waiting and no information was forthcoming and every one was tired, exhausted and frustrated. This waiting took around 5 hours and no comfort or refreshments were given to the poor passengers. Finally, and after a long waiting, the passengers were told they could go home and come back to the airport at 10 Oclock in the evening and there would be a flight around 12 in the night. Those who had no home at Khartoum were offered to be taken to a hotel, but since no one has confidence any more on the company most people l preferred to go to friends homes in Khartoum rather than wait to be taken to a hotel which might take long time to be arranged. I am one of those who went to a friends home in Khartoum rather than wait to be taken to a hotel. This was around 6 Oclock in the evening by Sudan local time. Please note that I left my home outside Khartoum around 7 Oclock in the morning so that I could be at Khartoum airport at 9 Oclock in the morning and supposedly fly to Dubai at 12:20 at noon. As we were told, we came back to Khartoum airport around 10 Oclock in the evening hoping that we would fly to Dubai at 12 Oclock midnight. We continued waiting and no one from Fly Dubai had shown up and the passengers were not sure whether they would fly to Dubai or not. At this point, the passengers became very frustrated and angry and they were only calmed down because the securities forces at the airport threatened them that they would be taken to detention!!! After long waiting and a lot of row and chaos, the passengers were allowed to board the plane. Even here, there was chaos because the seating was free and family members had to be separated, though the cabin crew did their best to accommodate the families request to be seated together. Finally, the plane took off at around 2:20 Oclock in the morning of Saturday 10 September 2011. This means that the passengers had to wait for about 14 hours in an uncomfortable environment, even sometime it was hostile!!! Please note that there was a considerable number of children among the passengers. The suffering was unbearable and terrible and only those who went through it can tell you about it. In my case, I spent 25 hours between the time I left my home in Sudan and the time I arrived my home in Dubai!!! To add insult to injury, when we arrived at Dubai airport terminal 2, my checked in bag went missing and I only recovered it after two days with some damage done to it.
Fly Dubai should be sensitive to the fact most its Sudanese customers (i.e. passengers) have the view that Fly Dubai has been offering them the worst service in all its destination routes and its cabin crew (especially those originating from other Arab countries) treat them in a condescending manner and I have personally witnessed such incidents.
The main conclusions, from this is nasty experience with Fly Dubai, are the following:
Fly Dubai has terribly failed its customers and has not lived up to their expectations; and has not lived up to its own promise of offering excellent services to its customers. Fly Dubai staff at Khartoum office have mishandled the situation and they showed poor judgment. Most passengers on that notorious flight will think twice, if not thrice, before buying a ticket from Fly Dubai again. This incident will cost Fly Dubai dearly in terms of customers satisfaction and undoing the damage to its reputation. There should be an investigation on what happened and who will take the responsibility of mishandling the situation. Passengers on that flight should be fairly compensated for the material and psychological damage that was inflicted on them due to the mishandling of the situation. An official apology from the company to the passengers is in order.
Eisa Abdelgalil (Mr.)
Passenger on Flight FZ 634 Khartoum-Dubai
Email: eisaabdelgalil / Dubai, UAE
SEYCHELLES CALENDAR OF EVENTS JUST KEEPS GROWING
The annual calendar of major events in the Seychelles just keeps growing as the archipelagos tourism industry is moving towards having one big thing every month in the future.
2012s calendar is now out and available and the year will kick off with the Eco Healing Marathon in February, alongside which Korean Night will be staged. March 02 04 is the annual Biggie when the second edition of the Seychelles Carnival will be held, with participants for the worlds leading carnival nations coming to Mahe to participate with colourful floats and performances. Last years first ever such celebration continues to draw media attention and the forthcoming second edition is bound to have the global spotlight once more focusing on the Creole Island Paradise, aka Seychelles.
June will see three celebrations, first the Seychelles Regatta from 02nd till 09th followed by two national holidays on 18th and 28th, when the country will mark National Day and Independence Day respectively. The annual regatta is expected to once again attract major international competitors and will be one of the sporting highlights for the year, sponsored by Air Seychelles, the Seychelles Tourist Board and a number of corporate sponsors including the Eden Island Company.
July will be dominated by the Miss Seychelles beauty pageant, for the first time under the auspices of the Seychelles Tourism Board and also in July will the Samoan Circus take place, a tribute to another island nation.
In August The Feast of Assumption on La Digue island will be partnered by STB too for the first time, highlighting an even on this charming though smaller island a short distance from Mahe and Praslin by ferry, which shows how the local community celebrates a traditional event in style.
September, like this year already, is dedicated to World Tourism Day, officially celebrated on the 27th and the nearest weekend to that day will see the next edition of the Seychelles Ball be held where captains of industry, tourism personalities and the media will have a night out to recognized the contributions of the tourism sector to the Seychelles economy.
The Creole Festival in October will highlight the unique culture and history of the country between 25th and 31st and this will be followed just days later in November by long time favourite SUBIOS, held between November 02nd and 04th, which highlights the wonders of the ocean with film and photographic exhibitions and contests showing the underwater marine world for which the archipelago have become so famous. Asia Geographic is partnering this event with STB.
And the years calendar of events will conclude with the annual Christmas Concert on 22nd December, before all the hotels and resorts on 31st December, together with the islands people, will see off the old and welcome the New Year in style.
As the saying goes, Seychelles Another World be part of it and enjoy the Creole hospitality.
Mahe is reached by Air Seychelles from London, Paris, Milan and Rome, but also from Singapore and Johannesburg, by Emirates, presently 12 times a week and soon double daily, Qatar Airways daily flights, Etihad from next month 4 times a week and Kenya Airways via Nairobi 3 times a week.