Archive for July, 2011

Seychelles election update – Constitutional Court goes into vacation mode, elections to go ahead?


Unlike after the first dissolution of parliament, when the Seychelles Constitutional Court almost immediately sat and passed judgment on the suit brought  by the opposition SNP, ordering parliament to be restored as the resolution for dissolution had lacked in format, the same court no longer saw the urgency of the second case brought, after parliament in observing the required notice format again dissolved itself.

While clearly no indicator of what the court after the summer vacation will eventually decide, it is still a dead giveaway that, instead of considering the matter as equally urgent court went ahead with the planned summer break, letting the process of holding elections go ahead until it will eventually hear the new case in September. Under relevant laws the Seychelles must hold parliamentary elections within 90 days following a vote to dissolve parliament and it will be some time in October that a general elections must now be held, subject to the Constitutional Courts final decision that is. However, political observers from the archipelago are convinced that having decided to take the scheduled vacation the court has knowingly let the preparations for elections go ahead and is now not considered likely to stand in the way when deciding the case before them in September.

That spells almost doom for the SNP opposition which following the re-election of President Michel in the May Presidential election had decided to abrogate their duties and boycott parliament and political cooperation, eventually resulting in their leader throwing in the towel and declaring he would no longer seek nomination for any election, presidential or otherwise. SNP is now under considerable pressure to elect a successor for Mr. Wavel, whose glaring absence already from the announcement of the presidential election results had set him on collision course with his own electorate, many of whom in fact complained to this correspondent the morning after the results were announced, why their own candidate had chosen to go AWOL.

Follow this column for updates towards the forthcoming general election in the Seychelles, which in line with recent political developments is expected to be peaceful and without incidents, considering that a new dawn has broken for the country through President Michel’s inclusive leadership style – not reciprocated though by the opposition MP’s who will now have a fight for their political life at hand to regain their seats.

Watch this space. 

Tanzania news update – Power shortage bites, wipes out hotel profits


A high level meeting yesterday in Dar es Salaam by officials of the Hotel Association of Tanzania resulted in government being told to allow immediate tax and excise relief of at least 20 percent on fuel used to run generators or else risk condemning the sector to massive losses.

The ongoing power crisis in Tanzania, often reported about here, has reached new levels earlier in the week prompting the hoteliers to use their own generators as back up when the main electricity supply is switched off for rationing, but at a cost, going by claims made yesterday by a top association executive, which were wiping out any profits member hotels were making. HAT has nearly 100 members from amongst hotel operators across Tanzania and is the industry’s principal organ to voice concerns to government, which has been accused to ignore the dire situation TANESCO has put the country in. Tourists and business visitors, considering the hot and humid climate in Dar es Salaam, expect services in hotels to be fully functional or else demand major refunds should elevators and air conditioners fail, hence the need for hotels to run generators.

Beach resorts too are said to be equally affected similar to the city’s business hotels.

Added a regular contributor of information from Dar: ‘this makes promoting tourism even harder now. Our government does not seem to understand what is going on under their noses. Tanzania has a lot of negative publicity over the Serengeti highway plans, where people abroad claim the government has lied to UNESCO and still plans to build a highway, then the Lake Natron issue, the Eastern Arc Mountains, the Selous and the Tanga Marine National Park, and now this! The tourists coming here read it in papers, see it with their own eyes that there is no power, so will any of them send their friends to visit when we are full of so many problems? Tour guides and drivers tell them exactly what is going on in Tanzania when they are on safari for a week or longer. If government does not listen now and come to the aid of the hotels and give better commitments on conservation, our 50th independence anniversary will be a reminder of how badly we manage our own affairs. And let us stop kidding each other, blaming the colonialists after half a century is no longer believable. Government has to wake up to reality or get out and make space for those who can improve our living conditions’.

As always, watch this space as dissent appears to spread in Tanzania. 


Kenya aviation news – KAA is misleading public over vandalism claims


The Kenya Airport Authority only managed to pour more fuel into the fire of discontent over their dismal performance of late, when their Managing Director yesterday blamed vandals for the power outages.

‘The man is not only incompetent, and his staff responsible are incompetent too, now they are also lying to us. How can they blame vandalism of cables in a secured area. Has anyone heard of intrusion into the airport perimeter, cutting of fences or climbing them? Had police got any evidence that there was in fact vandalism or that the power substation was broken into? Has KAA filed a case with police? That cable is underground so who can access it from above? And if anyone intruded into the secure area, what does that mean for KAA’s security measures in place? This is pure hogwash and they know it. They are trying to absolve themselves from blame and by lying make it worse. They must resign or be fired for negligence and incompetence. And no, you cannot use my name because these people are very vindictive and can cause our airline a lot of problems’ said a regular source to this correspondent yesterday evening when discussing KAA’s latest attempt to shift blame from themselves to ‘others’ who remain unnamed.

Airlines are demanding huge compensation from KAA for flight diversions and the resulting costs of passengers missing flights and having to be accommodated, the extra fuel to reach diversion airports and related cost caused by a string of recent power outages at East Africa’s most important international aviation gateway. Meanwhile is a crippling electricity deficit of up to 200 MW causing power rationing across Kenya, following suit to Tanzania’s perennial power shortages and of late similar problems in Uganda, leaving businesses, in particular the hotel industry and manufacturing reeling from the added cost of doing business by using in house generators which at present prices of diesel and petrol are eating deep into their bottom line.

Watch this space. 


East Africa / Gulf aviation news – Kuala Lumpur next for Emirates A 380


The Kampala office of Emirates has confirmed that come December the route to Kuala Lumpur will be served with the A 380 sky giant from Dubai. Many Ugandans, and in fact East Africans are studying in Malaysia in one of their many universities and lots of them will have the opportunity when coming home for the Christmas holidays to travel on the double decker aircraft, which has added a new dimension to the comfort of air travel in all classes of the aircraft.

Emirates presently already operates 21 weekly nonstop flights between Dubai and Kuala Lumpur and continuously growing demand has now caused the decision to be made that the A380 will be deployed on this route. Malaysia is one of the UAE’s leading trade partners and traffic volumes of passengers and cargo have been rising above average.

Emirates is the world’s largest A 380 customer and is following in the footsteps of Lufthansa and Air France, both of which are already flying this aircraft to Johannesburg, when adding JNB to their A380 destination on October 01st this year. Entebbe, as was recently reported her, has been designated as an emergency diversion airport enroute.

Watch this space.


South Sudan news – EAC and Nile Basin membership quest supported by Rwanda



Rwanda officially went on record yesterday when expressing their support to the new Republic of South Sudan in their bid to join the Nile Basin Commission and the East African Community, amongst other bodies the new country is set to apply to for membership.

Egypt and the rump state of North Sudan ruled by a regime under ICC wanted Gen. Bashir, are thought to be most opposed to this development, as they loath the idea of another ‘water producer’ joining up with Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Congo DR., Burundi, Tanzania and Ethiopia, pushing the two sole ‘water consumer countries’ into an even more significant minority.

The signing on to the treaty recently by Burundi has made the new Nile Treaty a legal reality and replaces the 1929 and 1959 treaties the British colonialist forced upon their newly independent former colonies and protectorates in East Africa.

Long disputed and eventually ignored, first by Tanzania and then by others too, Egypt had under the old treaties a veto right on projects involving contributory rivers and the lakes Victoria, Kyoga and Albert for the ‘White Nile’ while equally demanding the same rights over Ethiopia’s sovereignity over the ‘Blue Nile’, something more recently firmly rejected by Addis Ababa and put into the ‘realm of myths’.

Predictably will in particular the regime in Khartoum fear that the South Sudan will be siding with their friends in East Africa when it comes to deciding on the portion of Nile water the South will claim as its own, then leaving Khartoum and Cairo to slug it out over the balance of the water left.

Juba is also expected to soon make a formal application for membership in the East African Community, something Khartoum also tried to push on the agenda with little success, as the EAC will remember Khartoum’s obstinate behaviour and foolish interference and oppression inflicted on fellow Africans in the South Sudan, which now controls the majority of the oil produced. Kenya in particular is said to be keen to offer railway and pipeline links to the South Sudan and will push for even closer cooperation between the two countries, already linked with the most flights from anywhere between Nairobi and Juba.

While the EAC is still ‘digesting’ the ascension of Rwanda and Burundi it is quite keen to see the South Sudan apply next, which will then set of a process of between 2 and 4 years to harmonize laws, regulations and economic cooperation on a wide scale before officially admitting RoSS as a full member.

South Sudan’s most important trading partner Uganda is also said to be in full support of upcoming joining applications and like Kenya set to take full advantage of the excellent bilateral relations between the two countries to advance travel and trade.

Watch this space. 

Rwanda aviation news – Turkish announces April 2012 flights to Kigali


Turkish Airlines has yesterday announced their intention to begin flights between Istanbul and Kigali by April next year. The information was given in Kigali by the THY Chief Executive Dr. Temel Kotil when he met with President Paul Kagame.

It was also announced that cooperation between RwandAir and Turkish will be stepped up, with codeshare arrangements being put into place under which the two partners can choose a range of ‘beyond’ destinations from the hubs in Istanbul and Kigali. Fleet maintenance and capacity building support was also discussed between RwandAir – due to get their first ever B737-800 in less than a month from now – and Turkish with the latter going to provide technical support and training opportunities.

It could not be ascertained however if the flights between Kigali and Istanbul would be nonstop or route either via or on to another African destination of Turkish, which has in recent years been aggressively expanding to now 142 destinations via their Istanbul hub, including 17 cities in Africa.

Watch this space. 


East Africa news update – Power companies blamed for lack of foresight / planning


As the East African region continues to suffer from unacceptable and entirely avoidable power cuts business and civil society leaders are ganging up against power companies and government oversight bodies and ministries, demanding answers why such outages should hit the region with a regularity, stemming from negligence and lack of planning.

While Rwanda seems to manage their power shortages in the best possible fashion, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania have again fallen victim to wide spread ‘load shedding’ a word creation by the electricity companies to explain away their failures.

There is light on the horizon only in Uganda, where the IPS promoted Bujagali Energy will start producing at the very latest by early November, starting with 50 MW and progressively moving to 250 MW by April 2012.

That will allow the country to phase out expensive diesel powered thermal plants, for which contractual subsidies must be paid by government, a crippling burden considering the cost of fuel right now. Still, having no power is more expensive in the long run as industrialists are now vocally protesting against electricity rationing with some threatening to move their businesses to a country where power is assured around the clock and not subject  on / off / on / off schedules.

In Tanzania the problem has been gradually worsening in recent months, are frequently referred to in articles here, but again is attributed to the lack of preventive and scheduled maintenance of power plants, causing breakdowns of equipment and, as recently during a major football cup match, power cuts extending across the entire country.

Even in Kenya were warnings sounded earlier in the week that the country should brace for ‘load shedding’, but the gentle words cannot mask the fact that extended parts of Nairobi and other cities and towns will begin to sit in darkness from tomorrow onwards, as here too hydro generating capacity has suffered from the drought while thermal plants are not operating at full capacity again due to the current cost of fuels.

Kenya presently has 650 MW of wind power under development in two approved plants in the Turkana area and is hastening, belatedly it must be said, the exploration for geothermal power sources, where in particular in the Menengai crater area of Nakuru drilling is ongoing and added generation, on a 10MW at a time feed, is being pursued.

However, the crucial words are belated and unprepared, as power distributors and power producers were long aware of medium term weather and rain forecasts and had experience from their colleagues in the region of breakdowns of equipment caused by lack of maintenance, or shutdown of thermal plants due to lack of fuel.

For sure one thing across the region is a constant, that in times of economic hardship governments and regulators better not mess with the private sector, which is the only source able to improve the immediate outlook and that is exactly what is being done right now. ‘Lack of electricity has shot back to the top of the business associations agendas in all of East Africa. But that is being chased by demands from business leaders for more prudent spending of our tax money, cutting out waste in government and bringing corruption under control. When business confidence suffers as it does right now, governments cannot ignore justifiable demands by the business community and think it will not be forgotten. If the business community turns their support and allegiance away from government, how can they sustain themselves beyond the next elections? We are tired of hearing their songs about private sector being the engine of growth and yet they starve that very engine of fuel. Let them know they are being closely watched’ said one leading association head in Kampala to this correspondent, serving notice of discontent on behalf of his membership.

Meanwhile though the region is struggling to continue live as ‘normal’ albeit without power every second night in Uganda and more irregular power cuts in Kenya and Tanzania. Businesses and those domestic households which can afford the expense are also investing where possible in solar panels and inverter systems or else pay through the proverbial nose for diesel or petrol to power their inhouse generators.

Watch this space. 

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