RWANDA FORMALLY LAUNCHES AUTOMATED IMMIGRATION CONTROL FOR NATIONALS
The test phase successfully concluded saw the automated passenger arrival system for Rwandese nationals now formally launched at Kigalis Kanombe International Airport. Four years of developments and a significant investment in technology, and a trial phase reported her a few months ago, have now yielded the wanted results and the process of returning home can now be accomplished by Rwandans with simply swiping their passport through the reader, provide a thumbprint and the gate and within 17 seconds the process is completed without stamps or having to fill immigration cards.
The groundbreaking new technology is the first of its kind across the East African Community and in fact thought to be a first for Africa too, once again putting Rwanda on top of the leaderboard.
Present at the launch was the Minister in the Presidents office and notably RwandAir CEO John Mirenge, who reportedly took the opportunity to say: This new technology will enable passengers move swiftly through immigration procedures and it is important that all the other services within the airport follow suit in quickening their services a reminder to constantly improve the quality of handling and customer service at all levels. It is understood from a regular aviation source in Kigali that RwandAir, which is also the only handling company at the airport, is working hand in hand with other partners to improve the service delivery at the airport, also making heavy investments while at the same time waiting for the decision to award the contract for the construction of the new, state of the art, Bugesera International Airport, to which operations will shift when complete some time in 2016.
Watch this space.
Archive for May 20th, 2012
RWANDA FORMALLY LAUNCHES AUTOMATED IMMIGRATION CONTROL FOR NATIONALS
The month of April ended in a new visitor arrival record for the Seychelles, when 20.049 visitors arrived through the international airport, a figure never reached before. This constitutes a 5 percent increase over April 2011, which too at the time had set a new record, while the accumulative figures for 2012 year to date show an increase of arrivals of 5 percent, ahead of forecasts.
This comes amid reports that the French market is experiencing a drop of nearly 20 percent, enough cause for concern to have a high powered delegation led by ministers Alain St. Ange, Tourism and Culture and Joel Morgan, Internal Affairs and Transport head for Paris next week to engage with the tourism trade.
The end of nonstop flights by Air Seychelles in January this year led to a drop in visitor from France and plans by Air Austral of La Reunion, to fly a service from Paris to Mahe were also shelved, leaving the Etihad connection from France, now code shared with Air Seychelles, offering 8 flights a week via Abu Dhabi to the archipelago.
Said a source from Victoria: The tourist board is fighting back to recapture the French market. Other new markets have made up for the loss of arrivals from France and continue good growth but France has always been our biggest foreign market. We will not leave it to others but need to promote the use of flights via Abu Dhabi, or via Doha or Dubai. The airlines are helping and when the delegation leaves on Monday they will meet the key trade partners from France and discuss with them how Seychelles can help to sell better, how the airlines can help to sell better. We now have 28 flights a week through the Gulf and there is enough seat capacity to make this work. It is not nonstop any longer but one stop but we think the appeal of Seychelles as the best Indian Ocean destination will override the issues of the halt of Air Seychelles flights in January if only we explain it well enough.
The Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St. Ange, was quoted in a media release sent to this correspondent overnight as having said: Our presence [in France] will help reinforce the work being done by our Paris Office in the market and it is our hope that the tourism trade meeting we are holding in Paris will help to regain back our market share.
While in France the meetings with tour operators and travel agents will be complemented by meeting airline officials from France or working in France and, almost needless to mention, meeting the media as the Seychellois tourism marketing juggernaut relentlessly marches on.
UNESCO DECISOIN ON SELOUS MINING DUE NEXT MONTH
A periodic source close to UNESCO in Paris has confirmed that the Tanzanian government was undertaking a last minute goodwill initiative to lobby UNESCO ahead of the expected decision over the application to permit Uranium mining in the Selous Game Reserve, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It was not lost on UNESCO decision makers that the former tourism minister made very negative, derogatory remarks about the organization, when he last year called them an inconsequential entity. It was also not lost on them that he wrote a letter assuring them about no highway would be built across the Serengeti and within days publicly declared the project would go ahead anyway. Many politicians in Tanzania have voiced that same determination, so was UNESCO misled with the letter to gain time? Only this week did a senior administration official for the Arusha region declare the soda ash project would also still go ahead and the planned road across the Serengeti is also for that project. Feeding officials of UNESCO and decision makers with lunches and private dinners is one thing and the Tanzanian officials are trying hard but their credibility is really shaky. For that country there are too many things happening to or around UNESCO WHS locations. Serengeti, Selous where in fact they have not even applied about the planned power plant, the Stone Town in Zanzibar where UNESCO is following efforts to have the building or zoning code changed. They are making a brave effort but this will not influence the decision makers because they look at facts, at evidence they collect themselves, at the impact of mining in a reserve and the pollution which will extend into the water sources. A decision is due next month and we will be in touch to discuss the outcome then did the source communicate overnight following several days of mail exchanges on the subject.
Plans for Uranium mining, within Tanzania belittled and the risks made seen insignificant by officials, met with stiff resistance by the global conservation community and hasty plans to then change the boundaries of the Selous Game Reserve were floated, to carve out the mining areas, said to be about 1 percent in size of the entire reserve, to circumnavigate the need for approvals. Experts however say that this will not solve the principle problem of pollution and once poisonous substances have entered the water table, and more important the streams flowing through the Selous towards the Indian Ocean, downstream pollution will sooner or later have a significant impact on the flora and fauna of the reserve.
What is really under the spotlight when the UNESCO officials meet next month is Tanzania as a country, our commitment to conservation and the many lies officials have told until now. They will look at us if we are reliable partners in conservation and will uphold commitments or otherwise break those when it suits a few individuals who stand to gain massively. They are misleading Tanzanians that the country will benefit but the financial returns from the mining for instance are really minimal in the bigger picture. Tourism can generate sustainable income for generations upon generations. Mining will extract a resource, finish it and then leave a poisonous hole in the ground. We will be judged, and other related issues, like the countrys stubborn insistence to apply again to CITES to sell ivory on the open market will in the back of their minds also feature. The conservation lobby feels aggrieved by Tanzania. People around the world rally to raise funds, pay for conservation and research projects and then they are told they are a fifth column, they are enemies of progress and development and enemies of the Tanzanian people. You cannot have it both ways. Conservationists abroad speak out because they can while our own internal dissent is being stifled and we all know what government is capable of to deal with internal opposition an Arusha based conservation source added to the topic.
Tanzanias deputy minister for natural resources and tourism, only appointed to this office two weeks ago, is reportedly in Paris to lead the lobbying efforts when he hosted a number of Ambassadors for a formal luncheon a few days ago before continuing one on one efforts according to reports.
However, these efforts were not helped at all when in a related development the Arusha Regional Commissioner was widely quoted to have called the conservation and green lobby names over their opposition to the planned soda ash factory at Lake Natron, where the only habitat for breeding of the millions of flamingos of East Africa exists. He all but accused them to be allies of Kenya, where soda ash mining at Lake Magadi has been ongoing since before independence, suggesting that they were merely stooges to protect Kenyas ability to produce and sell soda ash while keeping Tanzanians rooted in poverty. However, there are no flamingo breeding grounds in or near Magadi, a fact conveniently forgotten or deliberately concealed by Mr. Mulongo in his outburst.
It could also be established that a further and more detailed environmental and social impact study has never been submitted to NEMC, making any progress in the project unlikely, as even TATA, the initial project promoters, puled away from it some years ago when it became clear that this would cause huge controversy and likely impact on their global standing, should they become a willing party to trample on environmental protection on such a scale.
Other government officials, like the Director of Environment Dr. Julius Ningu, were however quoted in a more sober approach, acknowledging the crucial importance of the Lake Natron lake flats for flamingo breeding, vowing to protect such resources at all cost, Government at loggerhead within and with the outside world it seems, as the controversies over the sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of Tanzanias wildlife heritage rages on. Watch this space.