Archive for October, 2011

Kenya news – Kenya Airways commits 290 Million Shillings to Rugby Seven team in record breaking deal

Information was received late yesterday that Kenyas national airline has signed a 2 year record sponsorship deal worth 290 million Kenya Shillings for the Kenyan Rugby Seven national side.
18 players and four coaches and staff will under the new and much improved deal get monthly salaries paid, allowing them all to concentrate fully on team affairs and training, besides improved medical coverage and of course the all important tickets to and from major events, where the Kenyans are now a regular side playing in the 8 country / 9 match series. They are again invited to play in Japan, with other matches played in Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the United States of America.
Brand new kits as well as bonuses for match and series wins too are part of the new deal, which will see Kenya Airways hold all the sponsorship rights for the team, which of course will wear the badge of The Pride of Africa with pride.
Next month will another Kenya Airways sponsored sporting event take place, the Classic Safari Rally, underscoring the fact that KQ is indeed a major force behind Kenyas success in sports and sporting events, drawing international attention to the country overall. Well done indeed, proud of The Pride of Africa.

East Africa news – The unseen enemy from above is now hunting Al Shabab on the ground


In what must have been one of the worst kept secrets, probably not meant to be kept at all, has it finally been made official last weekend by US army sources that a number of UAVs are now operating from Ethiopian territory, deployed against the Al Shabab militias but very likely, and very covertly also looking into hostile Eritrea, which has long been accused to harbour militant camps and arming militias and terrorists, not only in Somalia but inside Ethiopia too. Based in the southern town of Arba-Minch, some 500 kilometres from Addis Ababa, the location allows maximum flying time over Somali territory for the unmanned aerial vehicles, aka drones, which in recent days have already delivered their deadly load on Al Shabab targets, missiles literally coming out of the blue sky with no time to mount defenses nor to hide, inspite of denials by American officials that these drones were not armed. The little used civilian airport was reportedly chosen for being remote to keep prying eyes away as well as near enough to the Somali border and is now home to a number of US army specialists deployed there to maintain and operated the UAVs.

Following the robust forward defense by Kenya, which finally went after Al Shabab and is now aiming to capture their stronghold of Kismayu and other ports nearby ports, some of them also used by pirates in league with the militants, the drones are providing valuable intelligence information, some of which is shared with the AU mission and from unconfirmed reports with Kenyan troops too, while Ethiopia is benefitting to get the latest information about movements by Oromo terrorists and other militants and rebels towards their own border.

The UAVs are a potential game changer in the Somalia as they provide both real time intelligence but can also intervene militarily at a moments notice, just as soon as targets have been identified and cleared for action. They also prevent a direct involvement on the ground by the Americans, who pursue their strategic interests now from the air, giving their allies Ethiopia but also the AMISON and Kenyan troops the details they need to know to mount successful sorties and prepare defenses when needed.

What is however still required is to bring together the Western partners of the naval coalition off the Horn of Africa, where they combat ocean terrorism by Somali pirates, the partners in AMISON, the TFG in Mogadishu and the Ethiopian and Kenyan governments to map out a common strategy to pacify Somali, rid the country of militants, terrorists and Al Qaida affiliates, restore central powers of a federal government and then help Somalia to rebuild the economy to provide jobs and things to do other than becoming pirates or terrorists.

For now however Al Shabab and other militants in Somalia are facing a combined onslaught from the AU force, TFG troops and the Kenyan army, airforce and navy, aided by the unseen strikeforce from the skies over their heads. Needless to say has Al Shabab made threats against Ethiopia, as it has previously against Kenya, Uganda and Burundi leading to stepped up security in all neighbouring countries to prevent their mischief from spreading across the borders, which however, as seen in Kenya and last year in Uganda, does not rule out that they get lucky once in a while. All the more a reason to pursue them until they have no more place to hide and defeat them on the battlefield and the ideological front too. And best wishes to the Ugandan, Burundian and Kenyan troops on the ground defending our freedom and liberties.

Seychelles aviation news – New Air Seychelles livery shown off over Mahe


The first of three B767-300 aircraft has now come back from the paint shop and is for the first time flying in its new livery, a change recently announced with much fanfare and as part of rebranding the Seychelles national airline.
The plane, christened The Creole Spirit on arrival home made several low altitude flybys over Victoria and the island of Mahe, to show off the new logo to the Seychellois people and appropriately so as the archipelago held its Creole Festival, a key cornerstone in the calendar of events of major cultural showcases celebrated in the country.
Air Seychelles, with a new CEO at the helm since early October, is in a period of intense strategizing to map out its future, and this week the second older B767-200 is being returned to ILFC after prematurely ending a lease which was due to last till 2013. It is understood that plans to wait for the eventual delivery of the long ordered B787 Dreamliner may be scrapped as the airline decides in coming weeks which way to go for the replacement of the B767 fleet. Greater attention will also be paid to the domestic network it was learned, no wonder as CEO Bram Stellar was one of the key architects at Kenya Airways to return with a bang into the domestic market last year by re-introducing the shuttle to Mombasa and returning to Malindi and Kisumu after both airports were upgraded and the runway in Kisumu repaired and expanded.
Watch this space for upcoming news about Air Seychelles plans for the future as and when available to this correspondent.

Tanzania news – Tourism Minister tells operators not to cheat the tax man

Tanzanias minister for natural resources and tourism Ezekiel Maige attended a meeting last weekend of the Kilimanjaro Tour Operators Association in Moshi to interact with the private sector and get first hand information on grievances voiced by members. Notably did association members denounce non-member companies, which they claimed were often not even properly registered, for siphoning revenue from government while overpricing services compared to indigenous operators. Accusations were flying high and wild that private homes were used to accommodate overseas visitors who were then taken on safaris or for mountain climbing posing them as friends, and that no tax or license fees were ever paid for such operations. Also accused were foreigners for occupying many well paying jobs while in the words of an official, reported back to this correspondent verbatim leaving majority of Tanzanians working as sweepers a sign how deeply rooted the antipathy against foreigners now is in the country and how often reality for investors changes after their projects are matured. Other contributions at the event blamed marriages of convenience with Tanzanian women for the sake of obtaining legal residency and being able to do business, while yet others demanded that these operators must be stopped from being tour operators and tour guides and they should employ us. The Director of Tourism reportedly present at the meeting then added fuel to the fire when he said that in the absence of the free movement of labour within the East African Community being implemented the sidelining of local labour was not acceptable, a rare open insight into the real thoughts of officials when it comes to regional integration.
More sober minded members however asked the minister to put better training facilities in place to provide skills and competence to Tanzanians aspiring to advance their careers and allow them to move from menial jobs to greater heights. The minister in his response was reported to have assured those present of governments attention to their problems and encourage them to seek dialogue with official bodies and other private sector organizations to resolve pending problems or voice their concerns. He also insisted on compliance with licensing requirements for anyone doing business in the tourism sector and pay taxes on the incomes accrued from such activities.
Then however, either through an inept briefing paper or by his already notorious shooting from the hip the minister grossly misspoke when he was quoted to have said that while Mauritius and Seychelles were lacking the volume of natural resources compared with Tanzania, Seychelles had 4.5 million visitors a year compared to tourists coming to Tanzania numbering only 800.000. To put the fact right, the Seychelles, with a population of just about 87.000 and a country with more than 50 percent of its territory dedicated to conservation, has about 200.000 tourist arrivals per annum.
Tanzania is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Independence from Britain on the 09th of December and hopes to use the celebrations to attract global attention to its tourism attractions, however overshadowed by ongoing controversies over dissecting national parks with highways, by mining and by other development projects incompatible with the concept of conservation. This negative publicity has largely neutralized the promotional efforts to market the country and cast lasting doubts over any assurances by government officials vis a vis conservation when reality on the ground tells a different story. Watch this space.

Tanzania aviation breaking news – Air Tanzania to get airborne again on Tuesday

The Tanzanian national airline, if that attribute at all can apply these days considering that the carrier was grounded for months at end and has a single turboprop plane, is due to return to the skies over Tanzania on Tuesday this week. After a massive bailout from government money which should have been spent to buy shares in Precision Air according to a well placed source in Dar es Salaam which helped to clear long overdue maintenance bills for the Bombardier Q 300 plane, the airline eventually managed to get their AOC restored and will resume flights tomorrow.
Tabora and Kigoma will be the first destinations ATCL will service from Dar es Salaam and their loads will be keenly monitored, by aviation analysts, their competitors and this correspondent to determine if at all the company can make a success out of it or not.
Sources in Tanzania, highly critical of the governments hot and cold attitude towards private enterprise, say the government should have spent their bail out money to acquire a significant share in Precision Air which only last Friday concluded a 3 week IPO to take a stake in a viable and well run airline worthy of flying the Tanzanian flag into the region and beyond, but some of our politicians are still rooted in the mindset of the 70s and the total influence of government over business. And then again, in the past government failed to give ATCL the money they needed when it was needed, leading to its temporary closure. Will that change considering that money is ever more tight? This is a case of political patronage, misguided national pride when there is nothing to be proud about and a mere window dress ahead of our 50 years of Independence. After that, lets wait and see how they manage, if they can get planes and offer a service to make travelers switch over from other airlines back to them.
The airline submitted an ambitious business plan to government last week, the latest in a long line of business plans all of which failed for a variety of reasons and probably a sign how gullible officials can be when they wish something to happen against the flow of reality.
That all said, Happy Landings nevertheless to ATCL, its single plane and their crews and passengers from here onwards.

Rwanda tourism updates – New destination image and brand overhaul set for 2012

While in Kigali recently it could be established that the Rwanda Development Board Tourism and Conservation, was preparing for a complete rebranding of its image abroad, aimed to attract more visitors and offer a greater range of innovative products for tourists, alongside its most visible tourists activity gorilla tracking.
The countrys promotional body will work hand in hand with the private sector, already deeply involved in defining the image and presentation of the New Rwanda.
With more nonstop and direct flights from key producer countries it will be possible to expand tourism arrivals way beyond the current limits imposed by lack of air seats, but will also expand the marketing reach of Rwanda, when such airlines as Turkish will commence flights in April 2012.
Our aim is multifold said a regular source close to RDB. We are working on diversification of our tourist products and the launch next week of the new Congo Nile Trail, which will traverse the continental water shed along Nyungwe and Gishwati forests, is one such measure. This can absorb a lot of added demand, will attract repeat visitors who have seen the gorillas, because that resource if finite, we only have 56 permits available per day. The next step is to break into new markets, emerging markets, where we expect a lot of added interest resulting in our arrival numbers climbing in coming years in double digit figures.
And thirdly, new products help us and the private sector to keep tourist visitors longer in country, spending more money on site for safaris averaging more days than they do now.
Finally, we are aiming at our own domestic market to have Rwandese take advantage of the many top class facilities which are now on the market and learn to appreciate our cultural and natural resources, our history and our traditions. Towards this end we have to give Rwanda Tourism a fresh new look and be certain that we move with the times, because our regional competitors do not sleep either.
Hotel and tour operator associations, but also the guides are participating in the development of the new image and strategy and are said to be fully behind the move, knowing that united they are a force almost impossible to beat, while elsewhere in the region often bickering and festering arguments mark such processes, regularly based on personality clashes and the inability to work for a common good and objective before eating a cake which has not yet been baked.
In closing was it also confirmed that manpower development, training in tertiary and vocational institutions has also been stepped up to inject well trained Rwandan staff into the growing industry, although a bilateral agreement with Kenya does permit Kenyans to work in Rwandas tourism industry, and vice versa, assuring that service levels keep rising and are kept at par with those of other East African countries. Watch this space for the most current updates from the regions key tourist destinations

Tanzania conservation news – Plastic bags to be banned, finally

A total ban for the manufacture and use of plastic bags is in the offing in Tanzania, as government is fine-tuning legislative and regulatory drafts, which in due course are to be submitted to parliament for debate and endorsement.
Previous control measures, introduced in 2006, proved to be insufficient to prevent littering and bags in use now appear not biodegradable contrary to regulations and industry assurances.
When coming into effect the new amended laws will prevent the manufacture and distribution but also the importation of plastic shopping bags, and of course the use of them by shops and consumers. Owners of shopping malls and shops have predictably already cried wolf but have conveniently overlooked the fact that Rwanda already has such measures in place since 2008 and regional retail giants like Nakumatt have found ways to package customers purchases without using the dreaded kaveeras as they are called in Uganda. As a second positive after effect will the sisal industry very likely receive a boost as consumers have to switch to jute based shopping bags, bringing both employment opportunities to the farming of sisal and the manufacturing of the bags. Besides, these alternatives are fully biodegradable and equally cost effective as their lifespan is a great multiple compared to plastic wrappings.
The issue came recently to the forefront in Tanzania when clogged up drainage channels were chocked by discarded plastic bags and livestock and wildlife have died after ingesting the bags.
Watch this space for upcoming announcements while it is also hoped that Kenya, Uganda and Burundi follow Rwandas shining example and move in earnest to ban the menace.

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