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Despite Concerns, Kenya Airways Plans To Purchase Boeing 737 Max 8 Aircraft

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Flag carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) has reportedly ruled out cancellation of orders it had made to America-headquartered Boeing company to supply it with Boeing 737-800 Max jets.

This is despite the concerns that had been raised following fatal crashes of two Boeing 737 Max 8 jets; the crash of Indonesian airline Lion Air flight 610 on October 29, 2018, and the Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 tragedy on March 10, 2019.

Kenya Airways chairman Michael Joseph was quoted saying the airline would not cancel its order for Boeing 737 Max 8 jets. The carrier had ordered for 10 B737-800 Max jets. Photo: Kenya Airways.

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In an interview with Business Daily (BD), KQ’s chairman, Michael Joseph, disclosed the carrier had no intention to take off the table the deal it had with Boeing even as other airlines across the world revoked orders they had placed for B737-800 Max jets for safety reasons.

“The only option we have planned for is the Boeing 737-800 Max. This will make it easier for us to conduct training and maintenance of the aircraft,” the former Safaricom CEO said as quoted on Monday, March 25.

The loss-making Kenyan national carrier is reportedly planning to acquire a fleet of 10 new Boeing 737-800 Max jets which are expected to cost the taxpayers an estimated KSh 120 billion (US$ 1.2 billion) in total.

“We are hoping that between now and the time when we will be ready to acquire the new fleet, Boeing will have sorted out the current issues,” Joseph said.

The issues he was referring to include a software problem that is widely believed to be responsible for the crash of both Lion Air flight 610 which went down with 189 people and Ethiopian flight 302 which claimed 157 lives.

The revelation by the KQ chairman comes a few days after Indonesia’s flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia, announced it had revoked its order for 49 Boeing 737 Max 8 jets, becoming the first airline to cancel a contract with Boeing.

Garuda Indonesia, headquartered in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang city, clarified it resolved to cancel the KSh 600 billion (US$ 6 billion) deal with Boeing after passengers started losing trust in the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

Several countries across the world had banned Boeing 737 Max 8 jets from flying in their airspaces including the United States where the troubled jets are made.

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Africa

African cinema could create 20 million jobs: UN

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Nigeria’s film industry is the continent’s biggest, churning out 2,500 movies per year.

Africa’s film industry is thriving and could create many millions of extra jobs if its potential was fully exploited, the United Nations said Tuesday.

In a report, the UN cultural organization UNESCO said that an estimated five million people currently work in Africa’s film industry, which contributes 5 billion U.S. dollars to the continent’s GDP.

Nigeria’s film industry is the continent’s biggest, churning out 2,500 movies per year.

Despite the numbers, UNESCO said the industry has much potential that remains largely untapped.

Affordable digital film equipment and new online distribution platforms have given new opportunities to content creators, but the report said that Africa has fewer screens per capita than any other continent.

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Piracy is another big issue, with the report estimating “that piracy waylays 50 percent to over 75 percent of the film and audiovisual industries’ revenue”.

Only 19 African countries out of 54 offer any financial support to filmmakers, the report also found.

If all these challenges were fully addressed, the sector could create over 20 million jobs and contribute 20 billion U.S. dollars to the continent’s combined GDP, UNESCO said.

The report also identified a lack of freedom of expression as hindering the film industry’s progress, with professionals in 47 countries reporting limitations on the issues that they are able to handle in their creative work.

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In a statement, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay called for a strengthening of international cooperation “to enable all countries, in particular developing countries, to develop cultural and creative industries that are viable and competitive both nationally and internationally”.

Films are public goods “that require public support and investment”, Azoulay said.

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Rwandan YouTuber jailed for 15 years after anti-Kagame posts

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Idamange had accused the court of bias and boycotted proceedings in June after her request for the trial to be broadcast online was rejected by the court.

A Rwandan court on Thursday sentenced a prominent YouTube commentator and genocide survivor to 15 years in prison for “inciting violence” after she hit out at President Paul Kagame on her channel.

Yvonne Idamange is one of a number of people who have fallen foul of the authorities after turning to the video-sharing platform to publish content critical of the Kagame government, raising concern among international rights groups.

The 42-year-old mother of four, who was not in court for the verdict, was convicted of six charges, sentenced to 15 years behind bars and fined the equivalent of $2,000 — less than the 30 years and $6,000 sought by the prosecution.

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Idamange, who survived the 1994 genocide, was arrested in February for “exhibiting behaviour that mixes politics, criminality, and madness”, police said at the time.

The Kigali High Court found her guilty of inciting violence and public uprising, denigrating genocide artefacts, spreading rumours and violent assault, among other charges.

The accusations were based on comments on her popular YouTube channel “Idamange” in which she accused Kagame and his government of dictatorship, and of exploiting the genocide without giving enough welfare to the survivors.

Her YouTube channel boasts 18,900 subscribers and an average of 100,000 views per video.

Idamange had accused the court of bias and boycotted proceedings in June after her request for the trial to be broadcast online was rejected by the court.

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Rwanda, ruled by Kagame since the end of a genocide which left some 800,000 mainly ethnic Tutsi dead, has often come under fire for rights abuses and a crackdown on freedom of speech, critics and the opposition.

In March, Human Rights Watch voiced alarm over Kigali’s crackdown on people using YouTube or blogs to speak out about sometimes controversial issues in Rwanda.

HRW said then that at least eight people reporting or commenting on current affairs — notably the impact of strict anti-Covid measures which have hit the poor hard — have been threatened, arrested, or prosecuted in the past year.

It pointed to a 2019 statement by Kagame to highlight the dangers faced by those using online platforms: “Those that you hear speak on the internet, whether they are in America, in South Africa, or in France, they think they are far.

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“They are far, but they are close to the fire. The day they get closer, the fire will burn them.”

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Separatists threaten to shutdown Nigeria’s eastern region for a month

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“If by October 21, Kanu is not brought to court, Nigeria will know that Kanu commands the unflinching loyalty of over 60 million Biafrans home and in Diaspora.”

The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, have threatened to shut down Nigeria’s eastern region for a month if the government fails to produce in court, its detained leader Nnamdi Kanu.

Kanu, still in prison, was seized in Kenya in July 2021 and illegally repatriated to Nigeria.

He faces charges of treason and other baseless crimes for calling for a referendum on the independent state of Biafra in the east of the country.

“If the Federal Government refuses to bring Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to court in his next court appearance on October 21, 2021, the entire Biafra land will be on total lock down for one month. Nigeria cannot incarcerate our leader illegally and expect things to be normal again,” said Emma Powerful, spokesperson for the separatist group.

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“If by October 21, Kanu is not brought to court, Nigeria will know that Kanu commands the unflinching loyalty of over 60 million Biafrans home and in Diaspora.”

The previous round of shutdowns of economic activities and movements in the south-eastern region of Nigeria affected the country’s economy.

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