UMEME STRIKES BACK WITH A #TEAPARTYUG
Embattled Ugandan electricity distributor UMEME, under harsh criticism in recent weeks for the massive powercuts across the country, often lasting 24 hours at a go and more, has changed tack and in a new strategy is now attempting to engage with Kampalas leading social media gurus and opinion leaders, by organizing a Twitter TweetMeet, hashtagged as #TeaPartyUG.
Held at the Sheraton Kampalas Lion Centre the media blitz was clearly masterminded by PR movers and shakers Simon Kaheru and the recently returned Henry Rugamba, whose past experience as Corporate Communications Director at British American Tobacco (Uganda) came in handy, when dealing with a hostile environment.
Major breakdowns, in some quarters interpreted as sabotaged equipment, also led to lengthy repairs and outages in parts of the city, with the mood decisively turning against UMEME, though it is of course clear that they can only distribute what they get from the power producers. Technical problems on the network apart, the top executives and senior staff present at the #TeaPartyUG were well prepared and could answer most questions to the satisfaction of the tweeps and media representatives present, making it abundantly clear that electricity production was reduced for reasons well beyond their own control, as well as the control of the independent power producers, over the lack of timely and contractually agreed payments by government, to keep operations going. Wide screens showed ongoing Twitter feeds which alternated with statistics on power production, distribution, peak and off peak demands, billings and collections while the Q&A session soon moved on to individual problems encountered and narrated by those present.
Overall this first was clearly a successful media and charm offensive, including both the conventional media houses and also the increasingly ever more powerful and certainly often noisy social media where opinion leaders had in past weeks created their own hash tag campaigns, copied then across the region as in Kenya and Tanzania similar problems exist and persist.
Umeme is now also visible on Twitter, Facebook and even Google+, where they are incidentally following this correspondent on all three, monitoring my every move and output I said to their staff tongue in cheek, to be able to counteract and respond, all taken though in good humour. These responses and exchanges take place presently during office hours only but is soon to expand for on a full 24 / 7 basis, which is the ONLY way to successfully engage through the new social media outlets.
Happy Holiday Season then with less power outages? Time will tell and you can read it all through my Twitter feed via @whthome or my crossloaded feed to Facebook, on LinkedIn and even to my Blog.
Archive for December 9th, 2011
UMEME STRIKES BACK WITH A #TEAPARTYUG
50 YEARS FOR TANGANYIKA, NOT YET FOR THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA
Today, Friday the 09th December, is a big day in what is today the United Republic of Tanzania, as the country marks 50 years of Independence from colonial masters Britain for what was then to become Tanganyika. Pomp and glamour will mark the important day as the nation celebrates and looks back at 5 decades of ruling its own affairs.
Tourism operators are cashing in on the celebrations and today a few will be lucky to celebrate the day break on top of Africas highest mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro, raising the flag as a symbol of Uhuru as was done 50 years ago at the same spot.
And there will be another 50th anniversary in the making not too long in the future, when the merging of Tanganyika, today called the mainland and of Zanzibar will be marked on the 26th of April in 2014, after the two independent countries joined hands under the leadership of founding father Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
But for today, it is heartfelt congratulations to the people of Tanzania, who will hopefully enjoy a weekend of peaceful celebrations.
SPECULATION GROWING OVER EASYJETS STELIOS INVOLVEMENT ON AFRICAN LCC
Over the past weeks was speculation growing in Eastern Africa about a potential involvement by former EasyJets top executive Stelios Iannou, said to consider joining hands with Lonrho to develop and implement a viable low cost carrier model for Africa, using jet aircraft to connect major cities on the continent.
While some efforts have been made in recent years to establish local LCCs, this concept has not taken root as was expected and the financial strength of such Pan African airlines like Ethiopian or Kenya Airways have successfully held against such competition by setting fare levels on key routes to not just match their competitors but actually offer lower fares, while at the same time using their frequent flyer programmes to ensure brand loyalty through reward schemes the LCCs do either not have or do not as effectively use.
Information obtained points to a possible signing of a deal next week, which could be held either in the UK or a select location in Africa, possibly Nairobi, as the East African aviation market could be the first to be targeted by a new airline set up.
Regional aviation stakeholders expressed surprise when contacted over this potential development and were swift to point to the cut throat operating environment which exists in the East African skies claiming almost in unison this is not Europe, any newcomer will find the going here very tough, very competitive and very challenging. Adds this correspondent in closing that this will indeed be the case, as past failures amply demonstrate, though Stelios and Lonrho combined will undoubtedly try to re-write aviation history and duplicate European successes in Africa, supported by deep pockets and a vision backed up by long experience. Watch this space.
EMIRATES ADDS FLIGHTS, SUPPORTS TOURISM AUTHORITY IN MARKETING DRIVE
Tourism stakeholders clearly got their way, after demanding for long that the aviation regulators grant more flights to foreign airlines, when it was confirmed that Emirates, Dubais national airline, will add an 11th weekly flight between the UAE and Mauritius.
The added frequency, ahead of the upcoming high season over Christmas and New Year, will be celebrated by bringing in a group of travel agents and tour operators from as far as Russia, but also from several Gulf countries, to promote travel to Mauritius, which is part of the Indian Ocean cooperation under the tag line vanilla islands.
The Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, though looking overall at greater visitors numbers in comparison to neighbouring Seychelles, has nevertheless paled in comparison in regard of global visibility and media impact and has been trying hard to get back into the limelight themselves, seeking help from airlines and stakeholders to achieve this goal. Leading resorts on Mauritius are participating in the visit, as are destination management companies, to show Mauritius and its tourism attractions from their sunniest side, while tapping into Emirates global network to attract visitors from new and emerging markets. Watch this space for regular news updates from the Indian Ocean islands.
AIR BURUNDI ORDERS CHINESE BUILT MA60 TURBOPROPS
According to a source in Bujumbura has national airline Air Burundi now ordered two Chinese built turboprop aircraft of MA60 types, in an apparent effort to boost capacity and allow the flag carrier to fly to key neighbouring countries, like Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and even Congo under their own schedules, rather than, as is presently the case, depend almost entirely on airlines from those countries to fly into Bujumbura. While it could not be confirmed outright it is thought that China has made favourable credit terms available to Air Burundi, with the government in Bujumbura reportedly ready to guarantee any loans, in an effort to bring Chinese built aircraft into the Great Lakes region where hitherto the turboprop market is dominated by ATR, Bombardier and for the smaller types Czech built LETs and the traditional Cessna and the Beechcraft 1900.
The purchase will be a boost not only to the airlines operational capabilities but could also be a precursor to at least in part privatise the airline when the financial performance makes it possible. Watch this space.