NEAR MONOPOLY EARNS SWISSPORT RECORD PROFITS
While officially at least the monopoly of Swissport as the sole handling agent at key Tanzanian airports has been lifted, when a few more licenses were granted last year, the reality is that it remains a quasi monopoly, which is bringing huge profits and benefits to the shareholders, all of whom are known to overtly or covertly work on maintaining the status quo and keeping the competition at arms length.
Information from Dar es Salaam suggests that that the annual dividend per share will be over 157 Tanzania Shillings, compared to just over 97 a year ago.
Airlines though are said to be unhappy with the continuously high charges, compared to what is commonly now being quoted in Nairobi, where some 10 handling companies have brought rates down and improved services, as it should be in an open market economy. Flights in and out of Tanzanias two main airports, Julius Nyerere International in Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro International outside Arusha, have last year grown by nearly a quarter, with cargo volumes still up by a remarkable 17 percent, all contributing to an increase in handling income for Swissport and the subsequent rise in profits.
This is a similar trend to Entebbe, where a dominant handling company pulls the strings and keeps charges way above Nairobi too, prompting Air Uganda last year to seek the coveted selfhandling status which save that company nearly a million US Dollars in fees and charges with the saving invested in their own equipment besides creating more jobs at U7. Here too have airlines complained about the level of charges, citing time and again comparable figures from Nairobi, something which has also given the regulators fodder for thought, as they actively seek to invite an international bidder to come and invest in ground handling in Entebbe to make the airport overall more competitive. Watch this space.
Archive for March 16th, 2012
NEAR MONOPOLY EARNS SWISSPORT RECORD PROFITS
True to the words of the Seychelles Tourism Board was the 2012 Second Edition of the Carnaval de Carnivals, the mother of all carnivals in Victoria / Seychelles, bigger, better, more colourful and under an unprecedented media spotlight, bringing the Seychelles once again to the global TV screens, into radio broadcasts on all continents and into the global print media. Over 80 media organizations had been invited, nearly as many attended and continue to keep the Seychelles in the global spotlight. Attracting participation, after the traditional Ash Wednesday brought the carnival seasons in German, Brazil, the UK, Trinidad and Tobago and elsewhere to an end, was not easy but still, groups from these countries made their long way to the Seychelles, courtesy of the massive sponsorships by airlines like Emirates and Etihad, who flew the groups via their respective home hubs in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to the archipelago, equipment included. A lot more visitors came this year from Africa as it is after all an African festival as much as a Seychellois festival, the only significant one in fact on the African continent, and with Visa not an issue, none are required to visit the archipelago, more carnival pilgrims than ever before made their way to Victoria.
The opening of the 3 day Carnival International de Victoria in itself was a show worth coming to the Seychelles for, with glitz, glamour and scanty outfits of the Notting Hill samba group bringing the crowds to their feet. The speeches were short and to the point and left plenty of time for song, dance and the captivating interludes by the MCs who were on top of their game too.
Festivities across the city broke out just as soon as the formal opening was concluded and bands played, food stalls offered Creole cuisine delicacies as well as the traditional and more conventional hot dogs and burgers and the three day party was underway.
The weather was kind on the day of the big parade and led by none other than Alain St. Ange, now of course the newly sworn in Minister for Tourism and Culture, the big do started to gather pace and rolled like a juggernaut through the streets of Victoria.
It may be the smallest capital in the world but it laid claim to become a big carnival city in its own right brining together local, regional and international participants. Local floats interspersed with the international displays, which included a fire eater from India, and troupes and groups came from as far as China, Korea, Indonesia, South Africa, Zimbabwe but also from Trinidad, the UK and Germany. Notably their float captured my attention and gave me fodder for thought. Carnival German style is some very serious business indeed, as the parades in Duesseldorf, Cologne, Mainz or across Baden Wuerttembergs Alemannen Fastnacht amply demonstrate.
In my old country there have to be Karnevalsvereine, clubs dedicated to promoting the carnival traditions, holding festive and celebratory events, gala nights and of course organize the parades.
Every year, on the 11th November at 11.11 hrs a.m. does the annual season kick off, then lasting depending on the annual date of Easter, longer or shorter, as Ash Wednesday concludes the craze of in particular the last few days from Thursday till Tuesday.
(Duesseldorfs Carnivals Prince and Princess)
At that stage in November the outgoing Prince and Princess are being replaced with the pair for the new season and the Prinzengarde are shaking their shapely legs and do their dance performances on stage to the delight of the onlookers. Now in typical German fashion, even fun and laughter has to be highly organized, not a concept I wish to see imposed on my Creole friends who are so free spirited and happy to start with, but perhaps one or two good elements could be incorporated for future events, like the #SeychellesCarnvial2013.
Maybe the election of a Royal Couple for the season, maybe the establishment of a Prinzengarde, maybe have the formal official countdown start on the 11th of the 11th at 11.11 with a grand press conference and a preview of the exciting things to come when the parade goes underway in February next year. Lots of maybes and lots of fond memories of the 2012 event, which proved that after just two years the carnival has taken roots, has established itself as one of the key annual events on the Seychellois tourism calendar and has attracted co- hosts, this year La Reunion and next year probably three, four or more co-hosts, all now willing to jump on the juggernaut bandwagon which Alain St. Ange and his now former team of carnival inspired staff at the STB have created. With him at the helm now of the newly created Ministry of Tourism and Culture, and his expanded reach as a result, the Carnival International de Victoria is bound to grow more, incorporate more ideas and bring more participation from Africa to the Seychelles, as well as from around the world. Success breeds success, and success in this endeavour is what the the Creole Island Paradise has created within just a year and a half. Well done and while for now The Carnival is over there will be another edition in just under a year. Watch this space.
Tanzania conservation breaking news – EACJ rules against Tanzania government, Serengeti Highway case to go ahead to full hearing
ANTI SERENGETI HIGHWAY COALITION CELEBRATES LEGAL VICTORY
The appellate division of the East African Court of Justice has dismissed an attempt by the Government of Tanzania to question the jurisdiction of the East African Court of Justice, to which environmentalists and the conservation fraternity had taken their case, trying to block it from building a highway across the park.
The long awaited decision now firmly gives the EACJ the liberty to not just hear the principal case but also rule on it, a situation the government in Dar es Salaam feared as the justices of the EACJ are not subject to the usual pressures governments apply to their own legal systems to get their way.
The ruling stated that being a member of the East African Community, Tanzania had to subject herself to the rules and regulations in place, including recognizing the jurisdiction of the court itself and that the case raised by the plaintiffs had merit and should be heard. A total of 6 specific objections filed by the Attorney General of Tanzania were thrown out in the judgment, leaving the political establishment keen to build a road across Lake Natron and through the Serengeti to new mining areas reeling.
The main case is now expected to take off in full session just as soon as the court administration will set a date, giving friends of the Serengeti and the global group Stop the Serengeti Highway new momentum and hope that the plans to build a highway, albeit not tarmacked as conceded already by government, may now never be built at all. The plaintiffs had cited EAC treaty provisions on environmental issues touching on transboundary ecosystems, as the Serengeti / Masai Mara qualify under, and the case is all the more interesting as Tanzania has dilly dallied over other environmental laws the East African Legislative Assembly has been proposing to pass, again aimed to wrest jurisdiction from the East African Community and its more balanced views on development as opposed to the environmental havoc predicted over some of Tanzanias hair brained schemes in search of either quick money or else out of political obligations over promises made ahead of the last elections to mining companies and mega corporations vis a vis Uranium mining inside the Selous Game Reserve and generally about the Corridor of Destruction planned with highways, harbours, railways, mining and logging, as amply written about here in the past.
Notably was the Stop the Serengeti Highway movement, now turned into a proper NGO, started following breaking news stories here on eTurboNews, back in May 2010, that the Tanzanian government had internally decided to build a highway across the Serengetis most fragile parts, cutting the annual migration off from their grazing grounds in the neighbouring Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya, before bedevelling the conservation fraternity and green lobby as enemies of Tanzania and enemies of progress as perceived by the beneficiaries of the mega deals. Visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/STOP-THE-SERENGETI-HIGHWAY/125601617471610 for more information on the opposition towards the highway construction, and the constructive proposals for a more southerly routing around the park.
For now though it is joy and satisfaction that the East African Court of Justice has upheld the law and will in due course hear the principal case, reports about which will as usual appear right here. Watch this space.
SECTIONS OF MT. KENYA NATIONAL PARK ABLAZE
Information was confirmed overnight from sources in Nanyuki that indeed sections of the Mt. Kenya National Park, high up on the mountain, are ablaze with forest and moorland fires.
Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service have mounted joint fire fighting operations assisted by personnel drafted in from various fire brigades but the high elevation, lack of helicopters to douse the flames with water or anti fire chemicals and difficult access is rendering these genuinely serious efforts almost in vain.
Sources from within KWS blamed individuals seeking to extract honey from natural bee hives for having started the fires, when attempting to smoke out the bees before recovering the highly valued and prized honey, although there have been suggestions in the local Kenya media that it could have been poachers whose campfire may have burnt out of control.
Some routes for hikes and access to climbs on Mt. Kenya have already been closed for tourists to prevent any visitors and their guides to get trapped and it is understood that some climbers had to abandon their plans and return to base as a result of the fires. A regular source from Nanyuki told this correspondent that the smoke was visible from the Laikipia plains and that according to information they received from KWS at least 60 hectares have already been completely burned down. The alpine vegetation up Mt. Kenya is fragile at best and following a lack of sufficient rains been dry like cinder. This sort of fire damage can take years or maybe even decades to repair itself. Such fires also displace birds which lose their habitat and grazing for some of the game reaching the higher altitudes. Already the glaciers have reduced by a lot since I was a boy and this second fire in a year is not good for the biodiversity and not good for tourism also said the source in the course of the email exchanges before adding KWS are doing all they can and they even drafted in people from other parks. But the location is not good, not easy to reach and it takes half a day to even walk up there because no vehicles can reach. And when they reach they have to manually try to create fire breaks or extinguish flames without the help of water. The only real hope is a lot of rain to douse the fires which shows how difficult it is for KWS to put the fire out. No injuries to firefighters have yet been reported though, the one bit of good news in this sad story.
PRECISION AIR EYES LILONGWE AND HARARE
Information was confirmed that Tanzanias premier private airline, Precision Air, will be commencing flights to Harare, via Lilongwe, from 02nd of June onwards. This new combination will open up Zimbabwe as well as Malawi as new destinations from Tanzania, offering tourists and business travelers direct links instead of travelling via Nairobi or Johannesburg.
The airline intends to use a B737-300 for the flights which will operate initially three times a week every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Precisions home hub is in Dar es Salaam from where it serves currently some 16 destinations in Tanzania and across Eastern Africa but has made announcements already that a number of new destinations will come on line as new aircraft join the fleet of predominantly ATR turboprops as well as a growing number of B737s. Watch this space for upcoming announcements by Precision Air of additional aircraft orders, new destinations and frequency increases in particular for domestic flights within Tanzania and across the East African Community member states.