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East Africa Tourism

Wolfgang's East Africa Tourism Report

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa  Sep 26, 2008

Oxfam, an internationally acclaimed NGO, in conjunction with the Kasese district council, has last week released a detailed study on climate change, as experienced in the Rwenzori region of Uganda. The report deals with such issues as degradation of the environment, caused by human activities and changes in the regional climatic conditions. In conclusion the report called upon the developed nations, Russia, India and China to compensate developing countries for the disproportionate carbon emissions produced by them, which were identified as a major cause of climate change in Africa to the detriment of African populations, whose own “contributions: towards global warming in comparison with industrialized and industrializing nations are “minute.”

Following sustained complaints from the business community and consumers, fuel companies have slowly – some in fact say reluctantly – started to reduce their record prices at the pumps, which had rocketed when global crude oil prices touched the US$150 per barrel. Meanwhile however these prices have reduced by over US$40 per barrel but consumers continued to pay a high price, filling the pockets of the fuel companies. The volatility in recent days in the global crude oil trade however is something to watch out for in coming weeks, and is certainly going to be a factor for fuel companies to drag their feet in making further reductions in the cost of aviation fuel, petrol and diesel in Uganda. Again, no comments were received from several fuel companies contacted by the time of going to press.

The annual international trade show, hosted by the Uganda Manufacturers Association at their Lugogo show ground, will kick off in a week’s time. Over 850 exhibitors from 31 countries are expected to showcase their products and services and more than 170,000 visitors are expected to come to the show ground during the exhibition days. The information was revealed during a briefing by UMA’s Executive Director Gideon Badagawa for members of the Diplomatic Corps and business leaders.

The go-slow strike action by KQ’s engineering staff is now taking its toll, with flights being consolidated or even cancelled due to aircraft not coming out of maintenance fast enough or being signed back into service by engineering staff. The staff in question, as presented by their union, is demanding salary and benefit increases of some 400 percent, besides other work related demands, something the airline is unlikely to afford in view of the global upheavals in the aviation industry, which has also affected Kenya’s aviation sector.

Sources in Nairobi close to this correspondent are also suggesting that [in their own words] “vultures,” i.e. recruiters from airlines in the Gulf region, are already circulating in Nairobi with the aim of luring some of the engineering staff with better offers to join Gulf based airlines, most of which are on a massive expansion course, requiring more trained engineering staff for their fast expanding fleets of aircraft and the route expansion carriers like Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia and others are pursuing at the moment. Watch this space.

Retired South African Justice Kriegler late last week delivered the commission of enquiry report to the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who arbitrated the coalition government power sharing deal after the post election violence rocked the very foundations of Kenya’s society. The report was also handed over to the Kenyan government, notably President Kibaki. The diplomatic corps in Kenya already pledged to support the implementation of the findings and recommendations made in the report, which includes changes to the electoral laws and a total overhaul of Kenya’s tainted electoral commission, which was widely blamed for the post election mess. A portion of the report, absolving the electoral commission of rigging at the national tallying centre in Nairobi’s Kenyatta International Conference Centre however also drew criticism from sections of the political spectrum. Church groups and labor unions were equally divided over whether to accept or reject the findings of the commission.

Related reports partly published last week also fingered at least four of the ODM ministers now in cabinet for allegedly having had a hand in the planning of violence, which cost over 1,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of innocent Kenyans from their homesteads. One minister from President Kibaki’s PNU was also alleged in those reports to have been behind the subsequent counter violence which spread in reaction to President Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe being targeted and hunted by the opposition at the time. The formation of a coalition government however has put an end to the violence across the country and efforts are now underway to repatriate the last internally displaced people from their camps to their homes.

Reports reached during the week that work commissioned by the Tanzania Airports Authority to modernize the aerodrome at Mpanda is well on track. The improvements, made by the Tanzanian government under an East African Community scheme to improve aviation infrastructure, is not only aimed to improve connectivity for the local populations but will allow tourists easier access to the nearby national park of Katavi, the Gombe conservation area and other sites near and at Lake Tanganyika. Once work on the aerodrome is completed by early November the runway will then be able to cater for large twin-engined turboprop aircraft like the Bombardier Q300 used by Air Tanzania and ATR 42 and ATR 72 used by Precision Air, paving the way for the introduction of scheduled services.

The Gishwati Forest Reserve in Western Rwanda is on the way to become a national conservation park, if government’s plans materialize to upgrade the status of the forest. Rwanda is partnering with and American NGO supporting the survival of great apes and other international organizations. The forest is home to chimpanzees and upgrading the forest’s status will support Rwanda’s aim to diversify its tourism industry. The project also seeks to restore additional degraded areas of the forest with newly planted indigenous trees. Through related environmental protection effort in recent years these areas have already regrown some 2,500 acres of forest. At one time the forest size stood at over 100,000 hectares but has since reduced to less than a quarter of its original acreage.

The Rwanda Tourism University College reportedly signed a Memorandum of Understanding last week with the Mount Kenya University, permitting students from both institutions course credit transfer and study opportunities in specialized courses, not available at one campus but taught at the other. Sadly, the integration of Uganda’s national Hotel and Tourism Training Institute ‘HTTI’ into the new public Busitema University has been delayed due to budgetary constraints, denying Ugandan institutions and students similar opportunities at this stage.

A long standing feud and battle for supremacy in South African’s ruling ANC has come to a head last weekend, when an ANC party organ convened and after a relatively short discussion decided to demand from President Thabo Mbeki that he resigns. The president was accused of having masterminded the prosecution of ANC party leader Jacob Zuma and it is notable that no formal commission of enquiry was held nor was the president impeached, allowing for due process of the law.

President Mbeki only a week earlier triumphed over his critics of handling the Zimbabwe crisis, when he witnessed a power sharing deal, but even that is now standing on knife’s edge, as dictatorial Mugabe continues his dirty tricks campaign and is trying to torpedo the agreement he called in recent days “humiliating” by making outrageous demands over the composition of the cabinet.

President Mbeki has reportedly agreed to step aside, having lost the confidence of his party and a successor until the next election is due to be elected by parliament in Pretoria, once President Mbeki has formally stood down.

Mbeki had during the last ANC convention tried to be re-elected as party leader for another term of office but lost to Jacob Zuma, who in all likelihood will lead the ANC into the general elections next year and is then expected to take over from an interim president, whoever may succeed Mbeki until the next general elections are due.

It is hoped that the thriving tourism industry in South Africa and the preparations for the FIFA World Cup 2010 will not be affected by the political developments of the past week, as a shaky South Africa would immediately have a profound impact on the entire region and in particular the SADC economic grouping.

Wolfgang's East Africa Tourism Report

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