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Singapore, Australia ground Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 as concerns mount

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Singapore, Australia, China, Indonesia ground Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 as concerns mount

A SilkAir Boeing 737 MAX aircraft (background C) is parked on the tarmac of Changi International Airport in Singapore on March 12, 2019. PHOTO | AFP 

Singapore and Australia suspended operations of all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in and out of their airports on Tuesday, and Indonesia and China grounded their fleets of the US planemaker’ s latest model after it suffered a second fatal crash in less than five months.

The scare has wiped billions of dollars off the market value of the world’s biggest planemaker, as the Boeing Co share closed 5 percent down on Monday having fallen by as much as 13.5 percent at one point.

Nearly 40 percent of the in-service fleet of 371 Boeing 737 MAX jets globally is grounded, according to industry publication Flightglobal, including 97 jets in the biggest market, China.

A day after a Ethiopian Airlines passenger jet plunged to the ground, killing all 157 people aboard, the United States stressed it was safe to fly the planes.

But a statement issued by Singapore’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAAS) showed question-marks hanging over the aircraft after Sunday’s disaster could not be dispelled so fast.

“During the temporary suspension, CAAS will gather more information and review the safety risk associated with the continued operation of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into and out of Singapore,” the regulator said in a statement.

It was the first major regulator to order such an action, but the anxiety was also evident among air travellers, who rushed to find out from social media whether they were booked to fly on 737 MAX planes – the same model involved in the Lion Air crash off Indonesia that killed 189 people in October.

There has been no information yet to link the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines incidents.

Hours later, Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority followed Singapore’s lead with a temporary suspension to review the risks, citing the best interests of safety.

Investigators in Ethiopia found two black box recorders that will provide information about what happened before the plane plunged into farmland minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa.

So long as the recordings are undamaged, the cause of the crash could be identified quickly, although it typically takes a year to fully complete an investigation.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a “continued airworthiness notification” for the 737 MAX late on Monday to assure operators, and detailed a series of design changes mandated by Boeing.

Boeing issued a statement as well, saying it had been working with the FAA in the aftermath of a Lion Air crash to develop enhancements to flight control software that will be deployed across the 737 MAX fleet in coming weeks.

The new MAX 8 variant of the 737, the world’s best-selling modern passenger aircraft, has bigger engines designed to use less fuel. It entered service in 2017.

With another 4,661 on order, 737 Max 8s could become the workhorses for airlines around the globe for decades.

Ethiopian Airlines, which has four other 737 MAX 8 jets, said it was grounding them as a precaution.

Gol in Brazil temporarily suspended MAX 8 flights, as did Argentina’s state airline Aerolineas Argentinas and Mexico’s Aeromexico.

Singapore Airlines, whose SilkAir brand operates 6 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, said it has temporarily withdrawn its fleet and would re-accommodate affected customers.

Other airlines that operate Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to Singapore – China Southern Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Shandong Airlines and Thai Lion Air – are also affected.

Australia said Fiji Airways and SilkAir would be affected by its temporary suspension.

China on Monday ordered its airlines to suspend the use of their 737 MAX 8 jets.

A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that it was hard to predict a detailed timetable for when the suspension would be lifted, emphasising that passenger safety was paramount.

The current scare could jeopardise a potential commitment by China to buy more Boeing-made aircraft as part of a deal being negotiated to end a trade war with the United States.

Indonesia on Monday said it would temporarily ground 737 MAX 8 jets operating in the country for inspections.

South Korean budget carrier Eastar Jet will temporarily ground its two 737 MAX 8s from Wednesday to better cooperate with the government’s required emergency safety inspections, an airline spokesman said on Tuesday.

India’s regulator ordered additional maintenance checks on 737 MAX 8 aircraft operating in the country and said a review found “no significant concern”.

Vietnam state media reported the aviation regulator will not issue licences to local airlines to operate the 737 MAX until the cause of the Ethiopian crash is determined.

Still, major airlines from North America to the Middle East kept flying the 737 MAX, though Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he would not hesitate to take action once the cause of the crash is known.

Southwest Airlines Co, which operates the largest fleet of 737 MAX 8s, said it remained confident in the safety of all its Boeing planes even as it fielded queries from customers.

“Our customer relations team is responding to these customers individually, emphasizing our friendly, no-change fee policy,” the fourth largest US airline said in a statement.

Flydubai said it had received the FAA’s continued airworthiness notification and no further action was required at this time, while Turkish Airlines said it was closely monitoring developments.

Former FAA accident investigator Mike Daniel said he believed the decision by regulators to ground the planes was premature.

“To me it almost surreal how quickly some of the regulators are just grounding the aircraft without any factual information yet as a result of the investigation,” he told Reuters.

However, he said more groundings were now likely due to a “snowball effect” unless Boeing or the FAA released more information.

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Second-round M-Akiba bond issue a letdown again

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By JAMES ANYANZWA
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The Kenya government’s attempts to boost national savings through its retail market bond dubbed M-Akiba failed to excite the market for the second time in a row posting a 21 per cent undersubscription.

The government reopened the mobile-based infrastructure bond hoping to raise Ksh250 million but only managed Ksh197 million ($1.97 million), accounting for a 79 per cent subscription rate.

The bond, which was listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange on March 12, has a duration to maturity of 18 months and will be redeemed on September 7, 2020.

The proceeds of the bond issue were meant to settle total interest payments valued at Ksh12.38 million ($123,800) for investors who bought into the initial tranche of Ksh150 million in March 2017.

The Central Depository and Settlement Corporation Ltd has so far paid out, on behalf of the government, a total of Ksh59.67 million ($596,700) in interest to M-Akiba bondholders since the first issue.

The government is targeting investors with as little as Ksh3,000 ($30) in investment capital to purchase the bond and benefit from an annual rate of return of 10 per cent paid after every six months, implying that such an investor would receive Ksh150 ($1.5) through his phone after six months and a total of Ksh300 ($3) in a year.

But according to Financial Sector Deepening Kenya, some investors feel that the Ksh3,000 would be better allocated to alternative savings groups or investment opportunities that could provide quick returns or access to credit.

Although the M-Akiba bond was launched with the aim of promoting a national savings culture and reducing the government borrowing costs, this is yet to happen. The government had set a target to raise Ksh1 billion ($10 million) through the M-Akiba bond but last year the issue failed after a successful pilot project.

The government had put M-Akiba bond worth Ksh1 billion ($10 million) on offer, with hopes that the issue would sell out and even allowed a green-shoe option of Ksh2.8 billion ($28 million), that in case of oversubscription it could take up a massive Ksh3.8 billion ($38 million.

However, the government managed to raise only Ksh247 million ($2.47 million) of the targeted Ksh1 billion ($10 million).

Over 300,000 people registered on the M-Akiba platform but only 5,988 purchased the M-Akiba $2.47 million, less than a quarter of the Ksh 1 billion ($10 million) on offer.

It was a three-year bond with a coupon rate of 10 per cent paid semi-annually and a tax-free status in line with other infrastructure bonds.



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Uhuru visits Africa’s biggest fish freezing factory, says Kenya will copy Namibia’s example

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He said African nations should work together and learn from the examples of countries like Namibia, which has implemented progressive measures to develop its fisheries sector/PSCU

, WALVIS BAY, NAMIBIA, Mar 23 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has said African countries must take stronger steps to benefit from their immense marine resources.

He said many nations including Kenya gain almost nothing from their sea resources including fish.

The President said it was disappointing that foreign nations are benefiting more from the abundant fish in the territorial waters of many African countries.

He said African nations should work together and learn from the examples of countries like Namibia, which has implemented progressive measures to develop its fisheries sector.

The Kenyan leader spoke when he toured Seaflower Pelagic Processing factory in Walvis Bay, Namibia, which has the distinction of being the biggest fish-freezing factory in Africa.

The factory was set up recently at the cost of $40 million (about Sh4 billion) through a partnership between the Namibian Government and a private investor.

The factory freezes 600 tonnes of fish on a daily basis and has created jobs for 700 people.

President Kenyatta instructed Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and Trade and Industry CS Peter Munya to immediately take steps to learn from the Namibian experience so that Kenya can have a similar factory.

Namibia’s Vice President Dr Nangolo Mbumba and Fisheries Minister Bernhardt Esau said the Government embarked on strengthening fishing in order to give Namibia a food security guarantee.

Vice President Mbumba said Namibia and Kenya are united by true friendship that started when Namibians were fighting for freedom.

“When SWAPO was fighting for freedom, the first vehicle it ever owned was bought by Kenya. We will also never forget the role played by the Kenyan contingent of UNTAG which remained behind at the cost of Kenya to protect Namibians until the country was stable,” said Vice President Mbumba.

President Kenyatta toured the fish factory after visiting the headquarters of Namibia port authority, Namport, also in Walvis Bay.

“We are here to learn from how Namibia is benefiting from its blue economy even as we continue to support and partner with them in various other fields,” said President Kenyatta.

The port of Mombasa and Walvis Bay are similar because they serve many nations in the interior of Africa.

The President was taken on a tour of the port and shown how the Government is reclaiming land from the sea to enable the port to handle ships with bigger capacity.

To enhance its efficiency in serving neighbouring landlocked countries, Namport has assigned dry ports to the different nations so that they can manage their own cargo.

President Kenyatta said Kenya would study the idea of dry ports for neighbouring countries that depend on the Port of Mombasa for their imports and exports.

“That kind of arrangement can let them manage their own cargo and our job will be to be efficient port owners,” said President Kenyatta.

He said the port of Mombasa and Namport would partner in the areas of efficiency enhancement, and the bridging of management and administration gaps that lead to corruption with the aim of improving service delivery.

The President said mismanagement and other malpractices at the ports create inefficiencies, which in turn affect economies of many countries that depend on these ports as gateways into their countries.

The Namibian Government has already requested guidance from Kenya in the setting up of a single window system for processing and clearing transit cargo across many borders. The system allows importers to input data once which is then used by all countries through which the goods pass on their way to their destinations.

President Kenyatta said Africa would only succeed when all nations agree to collaborate to achieve progress.

“If Africa succeeds Namibia has succeeded and if Africa succeeds Kenya will also have succeeded,” said President Kenyatta.

President Kenyatta is on a State Visit to Namibia and was Friday hosted at State House, Windhoek, where he held bilateral talks with President Hage Geingob.





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Transfast upgrade to facilitate inter-Africa transfers : The Standard

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The firm is set to unveil new modes of money transfer that seek to guarantee users much convenience at lower cost.

Global money transfer and payment firm Transfast has revealed plans to re-engineer its platforms to allow Kenyans and other East Africans to send money both across and outside Africa.

This is even as transaction times are set to be radically adjusted to allow for much efficiency and further cost reductions.
The far-reaching changes were announced as Transfast recently met with East African business partners to build its network strength in Africa by partnering with a number of banks and other institutions.
New on the list of 18 partners was Postbank Uganda and Tanzania’s NMB Bank. Others were Ecobank Rwanda, Safaricom, Commercial Bank of Africa, as well as Guaranty Trust Bank Kenya.
Gulf African Bank and Kenya’s payment solutions provider PI Consulting, also came on board as Transfast agents.
“As we seek to be a leader giving the best service across the globe, we are looking to invest heavily is upgrading our systems to facilitate transactions at very affordable rates,” said Transfast Eastern Africa Regional Manager Daniel Muchika.
Further, he said the firm is set to unveil new modes of money transfer that seek to guarantee users much convenience at lower cost.
“We are also working at supporting freelance work around the world through integration partnerships with as many job platforms,” he said.
Transfast is a growing international money transfer and cross-border payments company headquartered in New York with additional offices in the UAE and the Philippines.
Founded in 1988, the company is a provider of multi-currency, cross-border payments solutions for consumers and businesses around the world.
Remittances are processed through its direct-to-bank network, and the company offers over 350, 000 cash payout points across 130 countries.
In Africa, Transfast operates in over 30 countries where the company’s bank network covers up to 90 per cent of adult bank account holders in those nations.
Transfast has crossed the 45,000-location mark in India with more than four million customers globally.
To date, the platform is on record for having processed about $8.5 billion worth of transactions.

TransfastMoney transfer





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