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Kenya's Patrick Njoroge named Africa's Central Banker of the Year

James Ngunjiri Posted JAMES NGUNJIRI

on  Tuesday, January 16   2018 at  12:45

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) governor Patrick Njoroge has been named the 2018 Central Banker of the Year in Africa by an international UK-based publication.

The Banker Magazine, a publication by the Financial Times Group, which also owns The Financial Times, recognised Dr Njoroge for his role in cleaning up Kenya’s financial sector.

This is the third international award accorded to Dr Njoroge since he took over leadership of the CBK in July 2015.

“Since being appointed as central bank governor in July 2015, he has acted swiftly to clean up the country’s banking sector, improve supervision and guidance measures, and spearhead efforts to position Kenya as a hub for green finance,” the magazine said.

“Monetary policy has remained stable and effective since late 2016 and inflation has generally remained within or close to the banks’ target range,” it added.

Banker Magazine said Dr Njoroge’s prudence and long-term vision for Kenya’s economy and banking sector ensured that he scooped the award.

Feted

In May 2016, he was recognised as the Central Bank Governor of the year at the African Banker Award held during the African Development Bank (AfDB) annual meeting in Lusaka, Zambia.

Later in October same year, he received the Global Markets Central Banker Governor of the Year award for sub-Saharan Africa on the sidelines of the IMF/World Bank meetings in Washington, DC.

The Banker’s Central Banker of the Year 2018 awards celebrate the officials that have best managed to stimulate growth and stabilise their economy.

The Czech Republic's National Bank governor, Jiří Rusnok, was named Central Banker of the Year in Europe for 2018.

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Ethiopian Airlines in plans to set up hubs across Africa

Posted ANDUALEM SISAY

on  Saturday, January 6   2018 at  14:35

Ethiopian Airlines is seeking to set up hubs in southern Africa, Central Africa and the Horn that connect neighbouring countries leading to faster trade, investment and tourism within the continent.

“We are working with Malawi and Zambia as southern Africa hubs. Another hub would be in central Africa, covering the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville and Chad. We are also in talks with neighbouring Djibouti,” said Tewelde Gebremariam, the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Group.

“We have a successful hub in Togo — Asky Airline — in which we hold a 40 per cent share,” Mr Tewelde said.

“Before we established Asky, the only way to travel to travel from Cote d’Ivoire to Benin was first to go to Paris and then from Paris to Benin,” he added.

He made the remark in Addis Ababa on Wednesday at the launch of an Ethiopian Airlines app that enables customers to make transactions including downloading their boarding pass.

Explaining the significance of having multiple hubs in Africa, Mr Tewelde said: “We are not entering a joint venture with these African countries just for the sake of making money. Addis Ababa is a very successful hub. Out of the around 11 million passengers we transport every year, 70 per cent are not entering Addis. They are transit passengers to other African countries and the rest of the world.

"We are connecting Europe with Africa, the Middle East with Africa and Asia with Africa. We want to expand this and be close to the customers. With a very large landmass and around one billion population, Africa has a high growth opportunity. By expanding the hubs, we will be contributing significantly to intra-Africa connectivity,” he said.

Although Africa is reasonably connected with the rest of the world, the continent is not well connected to itself. Internal transport within Africa has been a major challenge especially because there are no open skies.

Due to financial and managerial complications Ethiopian Airlines recently ceased negotiations with Nigerian government to take over the previously private owned Arik Airlines of Nigeria.

A few months ago Mr Tewelde announced that Ethiopian Airlines was working on getting registered as a local Airline in Mozambique.

In 2017, Ethiopian Airlines added 12 new destinations. “We will be launching flights to 10 new destinations between now and June 2018,” Mr Tewelde said.

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Eni and Shell oil firms to stand trial over Nigeria bribes

Posted ELLA IDE in Milan

on  Wednesday, December 20   2017 at  16:58

Italian giant Eni and fellow petroleum company Shell will stand trial in Italy over allegations of bribery and corruption in the 2011 purchase of an offshore oil block in Nigeria.

A judge in Milan ordered Eni, Shell and key figures such as Eni chief Claudio Descalzi and his predecessor Paolo Scaroni to stand trial in proceedings to begin March 5.

The companies are accused of corruption in the 2011 purchase of OPL245, an offshore oil block estimated to hold 9 billion barrels of crude, for $1.3 billion.

"Eni's Board of Directors has reaffirmed its confidence that the company was not involved in alleged corrupt activities in relation to the transaction," the Italian firm said in a statement Wednesday.

Judicial process

"Eni expresses its full confidence in the judicial process and that the trial will ascertain and confirm the correctness and integrity of its conduct," it said.

It insisted in particular that "chief executive Claudio Descalzi was not involved in the alleged illegal conduct".

Both companies are charged with corruption in Nigeria over the accord, which allegedly saw Nigeria's former President Goodluck Jonathan and his Oil minister pocket bribes.

The deal saw the Nigerian government act as an intermediary between the oil majors and Malabu Oil and Gas, a Nigerian company allegedly controlled by former petroleum minister Dan Etete.

The money

Allegations of corruption and bribery have mounted in the years since, forcing Shell and Eni to repeatedly maintain that they acquired the rights to the lucrative block in line with Nigerian law.

But email exchanges between Shell management cited in a report by corruption watchdog Global Witness, and seen by AFP, suggest that Shell was aware the money was likely to be funnelled to individuals, including Mr Etete and Mr Jonathan. Mr Etete was also ordered to stand trial by the Milan court.

Nigeria's anti-graft agency filed corruption charges against Shell and Eni in March, accusing 11 defendants, including Mr Etete, of "official corruption" in connection with the oil block deal.

Mr Jonathan has denied receiving kickbacks, saying in January that he has not been "accused, indicted or charged for corruptly collecting monies" linked to the deal.

A partnership

The OPL245 oil block has been a source of contention for almost two decades.

In 1998, the block was awarded by then-petroleum minister Etete to Malabu Oil and Gas.

Years of legal wrangling between Malabu, the Nigerian government and Shell ensued, with Shell ultimately winning rights to the block in a partnership with Eni.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who has promised to fight corruption in Nigeria's oil sector, has said "mind-boggling" sums have been stolen from the public purse.

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Zambia teams up with Ethiopia to revive airline

Posted MICHAEL CHAWE in Lusaka

on  Wednesday, December 20   2017 at  12:09

Zambia is set to relaunch a national carrier in partnership with the Ethiopian Airlines, government announced.

“Cabinet has approved the re-establishment of the long-awaited national airline at an initial estimated cost of $30 million,” Transport minister Brian Mushimba told journalists.

The long-awaited national airline was finally incorporated and will operate as Zambia Airways 2014 Limited, which will be a successor of the defunct Zambia Airways.

Zambia Airways was liquidated in 1994 and since then, the southern African country has had no national airline.

The Zambian government will be the majority shareholder in the partnership, Mr Mushimba said.

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Zambia Airways ran broke largely due to patronage and abuse by the political establishment.

Zambia Airways was founded in 1964 as a subsidiary of Central African Airways.

Ethiopian Airlines was launched in 1946, and distinguished itself as a pioneer in African aviation industry. It has outlived the various governments that have ruled Ethiopia over the years.

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Kenya promises Uganda better cargo transport deal

Posted PATRICK LANG’AT in Nairobi

on  Tuesday, December 19   2017 at  19:02

Kenya Tuesday sold the reduced cost of clearing and moving goods from the Mombasa Port to Uganda, and its ambitious Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), to revive its bid to extend the line to Uganda.

Uncertainty had hit the Kenya-Uganda SGR project after Uganda said it was considering building a railway through Tanzania.

In a bilateral meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni at State House, Nairobi, Kenya sold its reduced cost of clearing goods at the Mombasa port, the SGR, and its upcoming cargo freight as the answers to its neighbour’s transport needs.

Container terminal

It is estimated that more than 50 per cent of the cargo handled at the Port of Mombasa is destined for markets like Uganda, with 11.2 million tonnes of cargo moved between the two nations annually.

President Kenyatta said the completion of the second container terminal increased the port’s overall capacity to 1.65 million containers, with its capacity expected to hit 2.7 million containers per year once the three-stage project is complete.

“The modernisation programme has resulted in reduced average time to import and export goods through the port of Mombasa - from 11 days to under 3.5 days, and work for even greater efficiency continues,” State House said in a statement.

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And with the commissioning of the Inland Container Depot at Embakasi, President Kenyatta told his Ugandan counterpart, more goods will be transported by train.

“This will further shorten the time of moving goods from Mombasa to Kenya’s hinterland and neighbouring countries as well as the costs for doing so by a further 30 per cent,” the statement added.

President Museveni told President Kenyatta that “Uganda was ready and committed to the SGR project, and would work with Kenya to achieve its commitment.”

Working jointly

President Museveni had in July approved the borrowing of $2.9 billion for the construction of the railway from the Malaba border with Kenya to its capital Kampala, giving the clearest signal yet that the regional infrastructure project was back on track.

“Both Presidents agreed on working jointly on taking the SGR line from Naivasha to Kisumu and onwards to Malaba on the border with Uganda,” a statement from State House said after the joint meeting.

The line to Kisumu, the statement added, will also serve Uganda through the Lake Victoria ports of Jinja, Masaka and Entebbe.

Phase Two of the SGR, Kenya’s most ambitious infrastructure project since independence- a line to extend to Naivasha in the Rift Valley- is on course, and is expected to be completed in 2019.

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Court reinstates sacked Kenya Airways engineers

Posted ABIUD OCHIENG in Nairobi

on  Monday, December 18   2017 at  12:34

A Labour court has directed Kenya Airways to immediately reinstate sacked engineers and technicians pending hearing and determination of the case.

Judge Hellen Wasilwa noted that it would be unsafe for the public to fly in unserviced aircraft, hence the order that they be reinstated as the case is litigated in court.

The engineers and technicians are challenging the airline's decision to sack them on claims they had engaged in unprotected strike.

The airline's lawyer on Monday requested the court to give them up to Tuesday to file a response in the case.

The request was granted by the court.

The national carrier was last Tuesday stopped from replacing the more than 130 technical staff.

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The order was in response to an urgent suit by the workers, filed through lawyer Dismas Wambola, challenging their dismissal.

The workers argued that through a letter dated November 29, Kenya Airways purported to summarily dismiss those who were on duty on November 28 for their alleged participation in an unprotected strike on that day.

The employees claimed they were not accorded an opportunity to be heard prior to the dismissals.

Kenya Airways had advertised positions of the sacked workers in the local dailies on December 1, and invited interested applicants for interviews with a deadline for submission of applications set for December 15.

Hearing resumes on December 20.

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Bad weather hampers flights in Nigeria

Posted MOHAMMED AMIN in Abuja

on  Tuesday, December 12   2017 at  10:48

Several flights have been cancelled in Nigeria for a week, following deteriorating weather conditions.

The cancellations have inconvenienced the huge number of passengers who daily throng the airports.

The routes leading to northern Nigeria have been the most affected.

Hazy mornings

According to sources, more than 120 flights in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Kaduna and Katsina, with more than 17,900, have been cancelled since Thursday.

The bad weather has been characterised by partly sunny and hazy mornings and dust haze conditions in the evenings.

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) confirmed that the bad weather had affected many flights across the country. The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) predicted more dust and hazy conditions that cause poor visibility of two to five kilometres.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) appealed for the understanding of passengers over delays and cancellations of flights due to the adverse weather.

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NCAA spokesman Sam Adurogboye said the agency had earlier issued a Weather Alert Circular to all pilots and airline operators on the impending adverse weather.

The circular forewarned all operators on the danger associated with the dust haze at this time of the year.

“During this period, air-to-ground visibility may be considerably reduced due to dust haze,” the official added.

Limited operations

Meanwhile, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has advised motorists to be cautious due to the change in weather conditions in most parts of the country.

The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has also expressed concern over challenges faced by airlines and passengers in the past few days, due to reduced flight visibility at the airports.

NAMA’s acting Managing Director Emma Anasi said the present weather condition was caused by the dust haze, which had limited operations at most airports.

He, however, said that the primary responsibility of NAMA was to ensure the safety of lives and property.

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NMG boss Joe Muganda to leave in January

Posted BERNARD MWINZI in Nairobi

on  Monday, December 11   2017 at  17:45

Nation Media Group chief executive Joseph Muganda will leave the company at the end of January 2018, the board of directors announced on Monday.

Upon his departure, Mr Muganda will be replaced by the current Group Finance Director, Mr Stephen Gitagama, in an acting capacity as the Board seeks a substantive replacement.

The outgoing CEO joined the company in July 2015 upon the expiry of the term of Mr Linus Gitahi, who was at the helm from November 2006.

NMG’s announcement was immediately followed by a statement from Oil marketer Vivo Energy, which trades in Kenya as Shell, indicating it had appointed Mr Muganda as managing director for its Kenyan operation effective February 1 next year.

Digital disruption

In a short address to staff at Nation Centre in Nairobi on Monday, Mr Muganda said he would be taking up another role after his exit from NMG, and took pride in successfully presiding over a business re-engineering strategy to position the company on a

digital growth path.

His quick wins on the digital front were echoed by NMG Group Chairman Wilfred Kiboro, who said Mr Muganda had “aggressively driven our product portfolio review, presided over a general restructuring and re-oriented the business to seize the opportunities presented by the digital disruption in the media sector”.

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“He will leave a leaner, nimbler organisation whose future commercial success is already evident in the positive trajectory of returns from the investments in digital initiatives,” said Mr Kiboro.

“We wish him well in his future pursuits.”

Mr Kiboro assured all NMG shareholders, stakeholders and the public that corporate leadership changes are normal, and that the transition will be seamless and expeditious.

Regional newspaper

NMG, which is publicly-listed, is the most successful media company in East and Central Africa, and currently boasts the largest digital footprint with visitors reaching more than 30 million monthly.

It publishes the Nation and Taifa Leo newspaper brands in Kenya, The EastAfrican regional newspaper, the Daily Monitor in Uganda, the Mwananchi, The Citizen and Mwanaspoti newspapers in Dar es Salaam and a raft of e-papers and other online content assets.

Also in its stable are NTV in Kenya, and NTV and Spark television stations as well as K-FM and Dembe radios in Uganda. It also owns the Nation FM radio in Kenya.

The company is cross-listed on the Kampala, Dar es Salaam and Kigali securities exchanges.

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Fuel scarcity paralyses activities in Nigeria

Posted MOHAMMED MOMOH in Abuja

on  Thursday, December 7   2017 at  11:47

The scarcity of petrol has paralysed business and commercial activities in Nigeria’s major cities.

The queues that started forming early in the week have become a worse, as motorists sleep at petrol stations hoping to replenish their supplies.

Nigerians woke up Monday to forming queues at petrol stations in Lagos, Abuja, Jos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Kaduna.

The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has promised adequate fuel supply during the Christmas period and beyond, but motorists have not been convinced.

In Abuja, the federal capital, long queues adorned virtually all the petrol stations that opened for business as many others shut their pumps, for lack of supplies.

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A civil servant, Mrs Hannah Mshelia, said: ”I was on my way to work this morning and I saw a little queue at the Conoil opposite NNPC towers.

”I decided to top-up my fuel because you don’t know what may happen later in the day.”

Ms Msheila confirmed that though she had heard of abundant supplies at the depots from the news, she still had to buy ”just in case”.

In the commercial capital Lagos, many commuters had resorted to trekking long distances because of scarcity of commercial vehicle services, due to their inability to access petrol.

In Sokoto metropolis in the north, the queues which started two days ago, became worse on Thursday morning.

Official price

Some of the filling stations belonging to the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) have increased the price of a litre of petrol from $0.4 (N145) to $0.42 (N150).

At the NNPC and other filling stations run by major marketers, the queues were longer, as they maintained the official price of $0.4 per litre.

Some motorists on queue urged the government to act fast to avert a major problem.

“We were happy that fuel scarcity during the yuletide had become history, only for the problem to resurface now,’’ Mr Hakeem Yakubu, said.

“Efforts must be made to curb the problem; especially with the current socio-economic realities in the country,’’ a motorist, Mr Sifawa Ahmad, advised.

Another motorist, Ms Mary Onya, said the situation was a cause for concern and the government must take immediate action.

Panic buying

NNPC spokesperson Ndu Ughamadu advised Abuja residents to stop panic buying and reiterated that there was enough fuel in the nation’s depots.

He said there was no plan whatsoever to increase the prices of petroleum products both at the ex-depot level and pump price.

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Maikanti Kacalla Baru, has cut short his trip to London, as concerns increased over fuel queues nationwide.

Dr Baru, who was billed to receive the Forbes Oil & Gas Man of the Year Award 2017 in the British Capital on Tuesday, flew back home to attend to what he described as a “matter of urgent national importance”.

He also appealed to Nigerians to stop panic buying as the corporation was doing everything within its capacity to address the situation.

The Senate also summoned Dr Baru to explain the circumstances leading to the emergence of queues in spite of efforts to revitalise the four refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna.

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The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) had earlier warned that its members would go on strike from December 11.

IPMAN Lagos Chapter on November 29 threatened to withdraw its services over NNPC’s breach of bulk purchase agreement.

The association chairman, Mr Alanamu Balogun, said it was set for a showdown with NNPC over irregular fuel supply at Ejigbo satellite depot.

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Heineken invests $100m in Mozambique brewery

Posted ARNALDO VIEIRA in Luanda

on  Tuesday, December 5   2017 at  12:46

International brewer Heineken Holding has laid the foundation for its first $100 million brewery in Mozambique, local media confirmed.

Online publication Business Report said the brewery in Maputo Province, would have a production capacity of 0.8 million hectolitres.

“The first bottle of beer is expected to come off the production line in the first half of 2019,” Business Report said.

Direct jobs

The investment in Mozambique is expected to create 200 direct jobs and support additional indirect jobs through its entire value chain.

The Amsterdam-based Heineken Holding is the world’s second-largest brewer.

In Africa, it has units in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d'Ivoire.

Signs of recovery

Heineken has over 170 beer brands, owns over 125 breweries in more than 70 countries and employs approximately 57,557 people worldwide.

Heineken Mozambique started its activities in 2016 through a sales and marketing office, importing international beers, including Heineken, Amstel, Amstel Lite and Sagres to offer more choice to local consumers.

A World Bank Outlook says the Mozambican economy was showing signs of recovery after a difficult 2016, which saw a sharp slowdown in growth and shocks to both the country’s currency and to inflation.