RWANDAIRS DASH 8 NOW FLIES WB COLOURS
(Picture courtesy of RwandAir)
Already on the RwandAir fleet since early 2010 on a long term wet lease from Kenyas leasing specialist firm ALS, the WB Bombardier Dash 8 100 was during the last maintenance also repainted and is now proudly flying the RwandAir colours across the East African skies.
The aircraft makes periodic calls on Entebbe in Uganda or Bujumbura in Burundi but is now mostly deployed on scheduled domestic services within Rwanda, from Kigali to the border towns of Gisenyi and Kamembe, both located on Lake Kivu and right at the frontiers with the Congo DR.
Gisenyi is presently served 6 times a week while the demand for flights from Kamembe has resulted in operations last year moving from a few times a week to now 11 frequencies. It is from there that a large number of passengers, originating from the Congo, cross the border by land and then fly safely with RwandAir to Kigali and beyond.
It is understood from usually well informed sources close to RwandAir that the airline is studying the acquisition of a second larger turboprop plane to have capacity match the growing demand for seats from in particular Kamembe and a decision on this is expected later this year.
Visit www.rwandair.com for more details on Rwandas national airline, the network now reaching Dubai, West Africa, South Africa and across Eastern Africa, but also for schedules and special offers. Joining RwandAirs frequent flyer programme is also possible on line. Watch this space.
SERENA HOTELS PROFITS RISE BY NEARLY 20 PERCENT
TPS East Africa, the holding company owning Serena Hotels, has just announce a jump in profits for their financial year 2011 by 19.3 percent after revenues rose by nearly a billion Kenya Shillings to 5.46 billion from 2010s 4.48 billion Kenya Shillings. Indications are that a sound dividend will be declared again for shareholders, in the range of about 4 percent, which should give the share price a boost following a slow slide over the past 6 months, as worries over the tourism sectors performance made an impact on private and institutional investors. However, while 2012 is now generally seen as a year of consolidation, following records of arrivals and revenues in 2011, there remains the uncertainty over the elections dates in Kenya, which may be as late as first quarter of 2013 going by recent press reports on comments attributed to politicians. It is this doubt over the dates which also impacts presently on the forecast for the tourism industry and the economy at large. On the upside, the recent formal launch of the LAPSSET project in Lamu is expected to inject some level of growth, which will particularly benefit the Serena Hotel in Nairobi.
The group is present in four of the five East African Community member states with city hotels in Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali and Dar es Salaam, although there have been efforts by the government of Burundi to get East Africas best ruptured and arguably best run hospitality company to come into Bujumbura too.
The respective country circuits are completed by beach resorts in Mombasa and Zanzibar and a number of top rates lodges and tented camps in Kenya and Tanzania. It is understood that the construction of a new lodge outside the Parc de Volcanoes in Rwanda is soon to commence and that plans for at least two lodges in two of Ugandas main national parks are also still being pursued. Further South in Mozambique the hotel group owns and manages the Polana Serena Hotel, arguably the best in the capital Maputo.
Serenas Kenyan flagship property the Nairobi Serena will undergo a major transformation from later this year, when a new wing will be constructed, alongside a new car park while the present building is supposed to get another floor added. The existing rooms will according to reliable information be made bigger by converting three of the present rooms into two larger en suite rooms, similar as already done years ago on the ground floor with the much in demand Garden Suites each of which has its own little enclave of a private garden and a secure gate to the main gardens beyond. A recent visit to the Nairobi Serena Hotel also confirmed that the hotel remains in absolute ship shape, now under Daniel Kangu as General Manager, formerly serving as Deputy GM at the Kampala Serena Hotel.
OFF POWER OFF WATER OFF INTERNET WHAT NEXT
The patience of users of utilities, including electricity, water and internet / international phone services has been sorely tested of late for parts of Eastern Africa and Uganda in particular.
Electricity generation has been a problem in the entire region, but felt most harshly back here in Uganda, where our governments inability to pay contractually agreed dues to independent power producers led to the shutdown of some plants, which operators simply ran out of cash and were unable to put diesel or heavy fuel oil into the machines. Government then went on to explain that the promised subsidies on electricity bills could no longer be sustained, leading to a massive increase in tariffs and likely more power thefts by people unable to pay for electricity from here on and that available resources would be shifted towards gearing up generating capacity. Well, a fair point except for the failure to gradually phase out one policy element and alongside phase in another approach without disrupting the countrys power supply in the process. UMEME, Ugandas monopolist electricity distributor, failed in a media offensive as both parliament and the Electricity Regulatory Authority have asserted themselves and sharpened their claws, and last week the CEO of ESKOM, former owners of UMEME before selling to a British company, was detained by the CID at parliament after failing to give satisfactory answers to the investigators on the committee. Earlier this week she was reportedly too ill to appear for another round of grilling questions.
Talking of ill when one seens the often brown froth coming from our pipes, courtesy of Kampala Water, which if used to boil then has a brownish foam cover emerge on top, one can only say good riddance to their former CEO peacock, who was strutting about singing his own praise while shortages increased and the quality suffered. Mineral water producers now do booming business as many, at least those who can afford the 5 or 6 thousand shillings for the 5 gallon bottles, now use it to cook next step may be to shower with it too to prevent my grey hair taking on a brownish hue
And last to the internet providers a cut in one of the three cables off Djibouti, the owners never did come out to say if it was an accidental cut or sabotage in the pirate infested waters of the Gulf of Aden, was followed by the cut of a second cable off Mombasa, where harbour inefficiencies caused ships to stay on off shore anchorage and on dropped its anchor right on the cable. Repairs for both are still ongoing but the third, still functioning cable, then got cut inside Kenya, again not clear if by accident or sabotage, bringing internet and international calling traffic first to a halt before the much slower satellite backups kicked in. Still, the day was a mess, power disruptions attributed by a senior staffer of UMEME to a daily challenge we have to face due to the state of the network rich considering the obligations by UMEME to modernize the network since they took over under a clouded deal from former state corporation UEB, aka Uganda Electricity Board. It was also revealed yesterday that the company has reportedly written to the local World Bank office complaining about being harassed by parliament and the Electricity Regulatory Authority, prompting public howls of outrage and expressions of intent to refer UMEME to the International Criminal Court for crimes against electricity
On this humorous note I end, to face another day in paradise struggling with our public utility companies and service providers in darkness of course living off batteries, what else.