Archive for March, 2011

SKAL Kampala elects new board, brings hope for better days ahead

SKAL KAMPALA GETS NEW ‘OLD’ PRESIDENT

Ms. Kainembabazi Sabiti, in her professional life General Manager of Amadeus Uganda, was elected to another term of office as president of the Skal Club of Kampala yesterday evening, bringing an uneventful year to a close and giving renewed hope to the Skalleagues for better times ahead. Club vice president for the new Skal year is former president Mohit Advani, himself a proven ‘performer’ when he was leading the club for several years in the past and the committee members and other office bearers too bring with them maturity, experience and the right attitude to get the job done, starting with programme director Marinka Sanc George.

Congratulations to the new ‘old’ team who have my assurance, as well as assurances from many other club members, to make a lot more appearances this year again.

Seychelles news update – The MAIA takes Conde Nast honours again

THE MAIA GETS ANOTHER JEWEL IN THEIR CROWN

Information was received during the week that Conde Nast has once again put this unique luxury resort in their ‘hot list’ for 2011, after already last year honouring them in 2010 as ‘best hotel for food’.

Three renowned chefs are on call to create the most amazing and personalised menus for the MAIA’s clientele, specialised in Asian cuisine, ‘Fish and Seafood’ – of course fresh from the ocean – and also in Creole creations to pay homage to the spices and ingredients of the archipelago’s own line of dishes.

The chefs are available to serve the resort’s guests in their private villas or else arrange beach barbeques for them, besides the ‘regular’ setting at the main restaurant, indoors and outdoors.

Guests are often seen travelling to the main market with the chefs to see how meticulously the fresh ingredients are being selected by them every morning, probably salivating on the way back to the resort in expectation of another gourmet meal.

The food at the MAIA is of course complemented by a selection of nearly 300 wines and champagnes, all stored carefully in the ‘cellar’ to ensure the right temperature and attention for some of the world’s best vintages.

Look up The MAIA on TripAdvisor to see guest’s comments and reactions to their extraordinary hospitality and take advantage of a 25 percent rebate for certain times of the year, upon pre-booking and pre-payment or visit them directly via www.maia.com.sc but best in person – says someone who knows!

Regional economic news update – Inflation creeping towards double digits

INFLATION MOVING TOWARDS DOUBLE DIGIT TERRITORY

The recent slide of the Uganda Shilling and subsequent rise in fuel prices and prices of imported goods in general, combined with lesser supplies of food to the main consumer markets due to drought effects, has driven inflation to a decade long high, as across the region the ‘magic threshold’ of a double digit figure is coming ever nearer. Regional Central Banks are reportedly in constant contact with each other to devise ways and means to stabilise the respective currencies and introduce measures to combat inflation trends but to little avail so far. A source from Bank of Uganda pointed to the UK however, saying they are expecting a 5 percent inflation trend this year and claiming that ‘7 or 8 percent is not unusual in our region’ while claiming that ‘we shall not reach the 10 percent’.

Reassuring or not, the next round of data releases of inflationary figures in the region will tell.

Conservation breaking news – Tanzanian president cancels UNESCO WHS application

TANZANIAN PRESIDENT CANCELS APPLICATION FOR ANOTHER UNESCO SITE

True to his form of putting reckless exploitation before careful conservation has Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete reportedly cancelled an application filed by his own ministry of natural resources and tourism, to have the area comprising two more recently established forest national parks – Mkomazi and Udzungwa – recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

Clearly stung by the growing opposition around the world over Kikwete’s plans to have a highway constructed across the main migration route of the wildebeest and zebra in the Serengeti, and more recent developments in the Zanzibar Stone Town and the Stiegler’s Gorge / Selous, it seems clear that the Tanzanian president is loath to have more UNESCO World Heritage Sites to deal with when they threaten his plans for floating valuable concessions and exploration rights to the highest bidders.

Only recently did a GEF – Global Environmental Facility – sponsored project conclude which according to reports from usually reliable conservation sources helped to safeguard thousands of hectares of prime tropical mountain forests, a prospect which obviously did not please the president and prompted him to cancel the UNESCO application before kindling another raging conservation firestorm, yet by doing so achieving exactly this.

Kikwete has been accused by his political opponents to having formed close alliances with mining groups where promises of mining concessions for gold and other valuable minerals, including a hugely controversial soda ash plant at Lake Natron, were to be awarded and roads to be build to the areas ‘in consideration’ – a phrase normally used to describe less than kosher practice in politics.

His obstinate refusal to entertain an alternative route for the Serengeti highway has earned him the title ‘Serengeti Killer’ from amongst lobbyists and the conservation fraternity and his latest slap in the face of more conservation measures by directing the cancellation of the application for World Heritage Status reveals a frame of mind hell bent to make the most out of his final five year term as president, even if it means to trample the principles and ideals of Tanzania’s founding father Mwalimu Julius Nyerere into the dust.

Sources close to UNESCO expressed their surprise over the move, calling it ‘most unusual’ that a pending application from a government ministry would be cancelled by presidential decree, suggesting the media should delve into the background of this action and unearth the true reasons behind Kikwete’s change of mind.

Tanzania is getting increasingly into the bad books of global conservation efforts, considering their official stand a year ago at the CITES meeting, when the country broke rank with her East African neighbours by applying for permission to sell ivory stocks, and when being denied attempting a blatant scheme to ‘auction’ confiscated ‘processed and semiprocessed’ ivory by the customs department, claiming such was not subject to a CITES ban on sale of ivory. Increased poaching and trafficking of birds and blood ivory through Tanzania too have cast doubts on the government’s true intent to promote wildlife based tourism, where nature and biodiversity could be sustained for generations instead of advocating the reckless exploitation in the short term of resources, which when gone will arguably have left not much behind for the people of Tanzania.

Only re-elected last year for a final 5 year term of office, this term already reeks of wanton destruction and one can only wait and see what else Kikwete will do to further discredit himself and expose his machinations against conservation.

Conservation news update – Female gorilla dies after sustained attacks by two ‘suitors’

GORILLAS NOT IMMUNE TO SEXUAL VIOLENCE

News have emerged that a female gorilla of the Nkuringo group has recently died, after her body was found a considerable distance away from the ‘normal’ habitat of the group. It was reported that she has been subject to ‘beatings’ and attacks by two male gorillas, vying for her ‘favours’ and responding violently after being rejected time and again.

A veterinary surgeon from the Uganda Wildlife Authority administered first aid, when the situation became known and was reported back by trackers and rangers, but as the group kept moving around their ‘territory’ the situation grew worse for the female, who eventually succumbed to her wounds sustained in several attacks, inspite of additional treatment by vets as and when possible.

Sadly, in the animal world there is no legal punishment for attempted rape and gorillacide although such cases of real violence against females rejecting advances by males other than the dominant silverback are rare. Chimpanzee males killing each other is however a much more common situation, but again, even amongst chimps violence against females is reported to be rare.

A sad loss for the gorilla community in Bwindi and a loss of a valued individual in the Nkuringo group.

Aviation news update – Kenya Airways funds new dining hall for special needs school

KENYA AIRWAYS IN SUPPORT OF SPECIAL NEEDS SCHOOL

The Ikuu Special School in Eastern Kenya had a new dining hall constructed by the Pride of Africa recently as part of the airline’s annual social responsibility programme. The school, which educates special needs children, including many suffering of autism, for which purpose the facility was initially built some 15 years ago. However, the growing demand for such a special school has outstripped the available facilities and with about 120 pupils now on site – the school does provide full boarding facilities – a generous sponsor was sought and found in Kenya Airways.

Commercial Director Mohan Chandra handed over the new dining hall earlier this week in the presence of school governors and parents, before enjoying a performance by the children, who included the Gold Medal winner of the 2008 Beijing Paralympics Arnold Mugendi, showing ample evidence that being disabled does not prevent children from performing to the best of their individual abilities, given the right educational and social environment.

Well done Pride of Africa and now for some more!

Aviation news update – Air Uganda cuts Mombasa / Zanzibar flights during low season

 

AIR UGANDA’S MOMBASA / ZANZIBAR FLIGHTS TO BE ‘SEASONAL’

Information from Uganda’s quasi national airline indicates that the airline will be exploring new ways to maintain their route from Entebbe to Zanzibar via Mombasa.

Effective 01st of May there will be NO FLIGHTS until the 30th June, before resuming again for the period of 01st July until 30th August only. There will again be NO FLIGHTS between 01st September and 30th November, before once more resuming for the ‘high season’ travel period.

The shift in policy is attributed to the lack of sufficient passenger loads, as the airline a while ago already had reduced from three to two flights per week. It appears that the expatriate passenger potential would not fully take to the route over the need to get Visa to Kenya and Zanzibar, something several expats known to this correspondents with ‘healthy travel appetite’ confirmed. Already duly registered in Uganda, for many it is a constant bone of contention and they are asking to streamline the Visa regime for Eastern Africa and finally recognise registered expatriates in one of the member countries and not asking them to pay for Visa when travelling in the region to visit another member state on holiday.

The airline recently also adopted the new slogan ‘The Wings of East Africa’ and Air Uganda flies daily between Entebbe and Juba, 6 times a week between Entebbe and Dar es Salaam, 3 times daily between Entebbe and Nairobi and in code share with RwandAir twice a day to Kigali, one flight operated each by U7 and RwandAir.

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