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Has Egypt Succeeded In Wooing US And Other Western Powers?

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Egyptian diplomatic breakthrough to Western Powers over Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam(GERD) that tilted the balance of power regarding Blue Nile Waters in Ethiopian favour–,was highlighted by US suspension of $234m development aid to Ethiopia in October. However, for Ethiopia, the main theatre is Africa, whose diplomatic results are still mixed…

Egypt has succeeded in wooing US and other Western powers, by portraying herself as victim of Ethiopian maneuvers. London based, Nature Magazine dated October 16 2020 laid out how GERD with installed capacity could suck in 74 billion cubic meters(bcm).This is the annual flow of  Blue Nile that supplies 85% of Egypt Water requirement.GERD is also capable of reducing Aswan High Dam reservoir from 76bcm to 47bcm,according to the magazine.

Another western agency; Manchester University projected that GERD can cause escalation of Egyptian water deficit from the current 35 bcm to 45bcm.The already water stressed nation of 80m,drastically reduced acreage devoted on rice-a highly water consuming crop-from 1.76m to 750,000 to save 3bcm.Consequently,the mood of this increasingly thirsty nation, borders to water panic, a potentially destabilizing factor.

The Egyptian Establishment considers GERD dam as an existential security threat for which Egypt cannot sit gentlemanly. Muhammed Nasr Eldin Allam,Professor,Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University, and ex-minister of water resources and irrigations explains..

“GERD constitutes an intolerable infringement on Egyptian national security, where Egypt cannot standby as Ethiopia empowers itself to control the destiny of Egyptian people”

Egypt was caught off-guard by Ethiopia that began constructing a dam in 2011 when this 80 million state was engulfed in political upheavals that brought down President Hosni Mubarak. Ethiopia redesigned the project so that its reservoir can hold between 76 and 81 billion cubic meters, according to media reports..

The coming of Al-sisi government found the project going full throttle.

In July 2020 Ethiopia began to fill the reservoir that now holds 3bcm and has expressed desire to fill it as soon as possible..

Egyptian diplomatic focus on Western powers was partly to have Western powers use their financial and political leverage to bear down on Ethiopia. Institutions like the World Bank,IMF and EU take Egyptian concerns seriously. Besides the West put at premium Egyptian strategic importance in Middle East region.

However, Ethiopia is less concerned about what West thinks. After all Ethiopian diplomats in Kampala say GERD was built largely from domestic savings.Morever,Ethiopia regards Africa as crucial in her calcurus.Nile Basin states can also be roused to fight for equity in water sharing and to regard any development aid from Egypt as means of entrapping them…

So Egypt has to debunk the Ethiopian conspiracy theory regarding motivation of Egyptian development aid. Hence Egyptian diplomatic thrust is to approach African states individually,prioritizing those that target those that can have an axe to grind with Ethiopia.

Take Kenya for instance that endured disaster of Ethiopian unilateralism in constructing Gibe Hi Dam across Omo river.

Egypt has also focused on DRC and fully backed President Felix Tshisekedi to become next AU Chairman in January 2021. DRC has the potential to generate power and can become counterweight to Ethiopia in exporting power to regional states.

And Egyptian diplomatic effort has ensured that the 2010 Entebbe Agreement does not become a binding document. Though six states of the 11 agreed in principle the issue of water equity among the NBI states, only four have ratified the treaty. It requires six for it to become a binding document. This is where the Agreement has stalled.

Egypt, thus is giving diplomatic effort a chance, and whose results are increasingly becoming visible.

So far issues of common agreement between Ethiopia and Egypt are emerging. Ethiopia has agreed to Egyptian position of extending filling of reservoir from three years to seven. Ethiopia also agreed not to use GERD reservoir for consumptive purposes.

Both sides are also approaching the methodology in tackling sticking issues in a cautious manner.

Whilst Egypt prefers to resolve all issues related to the Dam like water sharing modalities and conflict resolution mechanism resolved in a single agreement,. Ethiopia wants on a case by case basis.

Lifestyle

The Rwandan Architect Who Works Like No Other

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The rebirth of Rwanda, 27 years after the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, is partly through the contribution of artistic works of architects; who conceive concepts which embellish the country’s cities, model landscapes; creative interior spaces. 

In Kigali, alike other cities of the country, glass towers of different shapes are erected on commercial and residential areas, similar arteries light up; wooded and flowery urban landscapes replace old neighborhoods; monuments take place in public spaces, in short; the city is changing and so are Rwandans. 

These works are conceived, designed, supervised by tireless architects. 

Taarifa traced one of them. A retired Lieutenant, Vedaste Ngarambe, is a solitary architect with no urban works who transforms and models landscapes and expresses himself by the absolute use of local materials that he values through the execution of his projects. 

This solitary artist is absent from the luxurious cafes and restaurants of Kigali and is also absent from the circle of his fellow architects. His extraordinary concepts speak for themselves.

It is the precursor of the ecotourism projects in Rwanda. In Kinigi, at the footsteps of the Virunga Mountain, in 2002 with the execution of Gorillas Nest hotel, and the development of the ecology and cultural park of Buhanga, the 1st residence of Gihanga, the founding king of Rwanda, 10 centuries ago.

Today, this park is one of the heritages being exploited by Rwanda Development Board (RDB). In the same region, Ngarambe developed caves of more than 3 km for an underground experience for tourists.

He also developed Mount Rubavu in the city of Gisenyi, Western Rwanda, where 2300 households were resettled from the steep slopes of this mountain on behalf of Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA). 

For genocide memorials, Ngarambe has no equivalent. He has conceived and developed more than ten memorial sites beginning with the Bisesero Genocide Memorial in 1998 which he designed and executed in the first phase.

Bisesero genocide memorial

He not only designed the memorials; but also designed their interior space, for the display of the memory of the victims and the exhibition of the evidence of the Genocide against the Tutsis.

Notably, he collcted and displayed the dark memory of the perpetrators illustrating their role of the genocide. Their images hang on walls in the banker of the memorials of Ngoma, Mubuga and Gatwaro.

The memorials designed and supervised voluntarily by him have allowed the burial with honor of more than 100,000 victims in some region. 

Karongi district is Ngarambe’s home village.

He is passionate about contributing to efforts of healing the souls of the survivors and creating economic opportunities through developing ecotourism concepts.

Kivu Lodge rests on an island in the middle of the lake. It’s construction created multiple opportunities for the local community until today.

He moves the dynamics of tourism development stretching along the Kivu Belt along Lake Kivu; introducing eco-tourism in Mubuga and Gishyita along the lake with eco-hotels that he designed and supervised the construction of Kivu Ressort, Kivu Lodge, and Mpembe Safari Park.

The promotion of these touristic sites has attracted several investors in tourism with an investment cost of more than US$4 million. 

Speaking of museums, the man is an architect of these special concepts. He oversaw the study and implementation of the Campaign against Genocide museum for over eight years and participated in the training of tour guides. 

Construction of a luxurious eco-lodge along the shore of Lake Kivu has created jobs, helped conserve the environment and boosted local tourism

He designed the National Liberation Museum in Mulindi and is supervising continuous renovations. He also designed “U Rwanda rwa Gasabo Museum in Rutunga/Gasabo on behalf of Gasabo District. 

When architecture contributes to the rebirth of a region severely devastated by genocide: an almost crazy bet 

We wind our way along a dilapidated road and passed by the Mugonero hospital through the rolling hills of the Congo-Nile ridge; in search of this isolated architect. It seems that he has taken up residence in the peaks of these high hills of Bisesero. 

We meander into the rough road to reach the heights of Rulonzi; a high region at more than 1900m of altitude near Busesero. 

These hills were once home to thousands of Tutsis.

The region is almost uninhabited; only the ruins of the destroyed houses of the perished Tutsi families are still visible on the slopes of these silent, forest-covered hills. It is in this untouched, inhospitable world where the artist of the unique works resides.

Our journey is blocked by a wooden barrier; and a young man in civilian clothes. He offers us passage with all the honors of a military quarter-guard. We penetrate into his wild domicile and at the end of 200m, in an open space serving as parking lot, a man with a cane in the hand; beckons us to follow him.

We enter a building, spacious; artistically braided; reflecting the traditional decor and art; with a jungle inside. He explains to us that we are at the reception of a mountain tourist information center. 

“I am Mr. Vedaste Ngarambe, the architect you are looking for,” the tall handsome and muscular gentleman says. And he continued to explain that this space serves as a starting point for the exploration and adventure into the mountains. He showed us some diagrams of ecotourism exploitation and revealed his plans for the regeneration of a whole region bruised by the genocide: that of Bisesero and its surroundings, the domain of the Basesero resistance fighters who fiercely resisted the thousands of militias armed with machetes and guns. 

Ngarambe’s home is magical.

We continue our discovery into his home; a greenhouse-museum and inside is a lush vegetation and giant rocks on which flows a cascading stream; wild plants, ferns, banana trees in a setting of paved alleys in flat rubble and brick wall with a very modest arrangement under a woven ceiling in reeds and that is the living space of this architect, a little crazy, as often described by his friends. 

He finds no one alive

Meanwhile, Ngarambe has another mission to accomplish, but it has painful dimension. As a teenager, his father sent him to Zaire, now Dr. Congo to study. He had an assignment; to study architecture and return home to help build houses in his home village. He never made it back, instead, he joined the Rwanda Patriotic Army in 1991 to help liberate the country from the genocidal regime.

At 27, in 1994, after the genocide, a Lieutenant, he travelled back to his home village in Karongi district, then Kibuye. He had hope his family had survived. He found no one. The whole region was littered by dead bodies decomposing on the hills. His parents, relatives and friends lay in the genocide memorials he has designed and supervised their construction. For him, that is the legacy in memory of his beloved father who is no more.

He had to retired from the army, gracefully, but with unimaginable agony. His projects are a form of healing.

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Special Report

U$43M Public Money Disappeared As False Loan To Company Linked To Kabila

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Dominating the headlines in Congolese Press is an inquiry into the disappearance of U$43 million as a fake loan signed to Entreprise Générale d’Alimentation et de Logistique (Egal SARL) a company linked to former President Joseph Kabange Kabila.

The Belgian newspaper LE SOIR published On October 29, 2016, an exclusive dossier of the revelations known as “Lumumba Papers”.

The Lumumba Papers, reveal the suspicious activities of the bank BGFI RDC, a subsidiary of the Gabonese and French International Bank (BGFI) in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as its involvement in corruption and embezzlement of public funds.

Largely based on internal documents disclosed by the former bank employee Jean-Jacques Lumumba, the case also reveals, in one of its components, the alleged affair of the Congolese company Egal SARL, presented at the time as close to former president Joseph Kabika.

According to these surveys, the company specializing in the agrifood trade benefited, in 2013, from four payments for a total of U$ 43 million into an account housed at the BGFI.

“These payments came from the Central Bank of Congo, a public institution headed by Deogratias Mutombo Nyembo. A direct loan to a business is normally prohibited. Especially since, according to the Belgian daily, the sum was never reimbursed, “explains the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.

In July 2020, Félix Tshisekedi, who succeeded Joseph Kabila as President, embarked on an anti-corruption race.

President Tshisekedi appointed Jules Alingete as the head of the General Inspectorate of Finances, a service placed under the direct authority of the Congolese President with a mission of controlling the financial authorities, state enterprises, public administrations, State accountants, Provincial Governments and all State expenditure including the Central Bank of Congo.

Alingete is familiar with the workings of public finance in the DRC. He has been a Financial Inspector since January 1989, also being a chartered accountant, tax specialist and business climate expert. As soon as he took office, he embarked on a real quest to flush out cases of embezzlement. This is how he then came across the contours of Lumumba Papers.

The Inspector General and his team first took a shot at media reports widely alleging that EGAL SARL would then have benefited from U$43 million coming directly from the Central Bank to finance its activities.

In a letter of February 8, 2021, Alingete wrote to the CEO of EGAL to ask for an explanation of this alleged loan.

“It emerges from the discussions that we had with the BGFI Bank, that you benefited from the latter, in December 2013, from a payment of U$42,999,699.05, payment charged to the account opened for the benefit of the Central Bank of Congo, with the same bank,” said the Chief Inspector in his letter. By law, such a “loan” which would come directly from the central bank, is illegal.

In this file, there are explanations of the BGFI bank in 2016. In a press release, the Congolese bank affirms that the company Egal SARL “has regularly benefited, from the Bank, of an investment loan to long term guaranteed by the revenues generated by the operation of its activity.

BGFI Bank also affirms that the accusations according to which the Central Bank of Congo would have financed this activity, by payments through BGFI Bank RDC, are therefore false and without foundation.

“On the other hand, the Central Bank of Congo regularly holds a bank account in the books of the Bank which carries out its international banking operations as do several other banks of the place”, said this press release.

Alingete and his IGF investigators would end up coming to the same conclusions, to some extent. The IGF discovers that over the period from July 18, 2013 to November 6, 2013, a total amount of U$ 42,999,699.05, was transferred from Rawbank to BGFI Bank, by the Central Bank of Congo, to be accommodated in the account 70010285011-72 entitled “Banque Centrale du Congo Equipements” opened in the books of the BGFI Bank.

The IGF adds, this money, was subsequently transferred from the account “Central Bank of Congo Equipments” to the credit of the escrow account n ° 45191026110-13 USD opened in the name of the company EGAL SARL, transfer executed in four installments, by agents Kusombi Hervé and Diop Abdel Kader.

If the account was opened in the name of EGAL, the IGF confirms that the latter has never had access to it. For the IGF, the “escrow account” into which the U$42,999,699.05 was paid could only be activated by the BGFI Bank itself and, in no way, the company EGAL SA.

“This is why the latter was exonerated in the charge of financing on the basis of public funds which had been brought against her.”

“At the current stage of things, it emerges that the Congolese State has lost the amount U$ 42,999,699.05 withdrawn from the + Central Bank of Congo Equipments account + and the responsibility lies with the BGFI-BANK DRC”, notes Alingete in this letter addressed this time to the Director-General Manager of this bank.

In a letter dated March 16, 2021, the IGF Inspector General finally reconsidered his initial accusations and confirmed the exoneration of Egal SARL.

“Following the various working sessions that we had, in the presence of representatives of the BGFI Bank, on the allocation in favour of your company, in an amount of forty-three million US dollars, amount coming from a escrow account opened by the Central Bank of Congo in the books of the BGFI Bank, I have the honour to communicate to you the position, at this stage, of the General Inspectorate of Finances which consists in that no proof could be produced by the BGFI Bank, attesting that this sum was never made available to you ”, says Alingete in this letter addressed to the Director General of the IGF.

“At this stage, it follows on the contrary from the various elements of this file that you had benefited from this bank, from a line of credit in guarantee of which a comfort account had been opened, account fed by withdrawals made on your figure of ‘business and that this credit line was cleared following a compromise between parties, compromise that involved the liquidation of this comfort account, ” the letter adds, the authenticity of which has been confirmed on the side of the IGF and the company EGAL .

But Jules Alingete does not come out but empty-handed in this case, which ultimately hides another. Indeed, if EGAL SARL is out of the question for not having received funding from the Central Bank, U$43 million from the Public Treasury are still missing. In another correspondence, this time dated April 5, 2021, the Inspectorate now indexes BGFI Bank.

At the end of its working sessions with the heads of these companies, the IGF says that BGFI Bank “could not conclusively establish the destination” of U$ 42,999,699.05. Exit from the “Central Bank of Congo Equipment” account, this large sum escaped the Congolese public treasury after 4 transfers to an “escrow account” bearing several numbers “to confuse the issue”.

According to investigators around the case at the IGF, the leads currently lead to the principals, new to the Government and the central bank at the time.

U$43 million left the accounts of the Central Bank from the Rawbank to land in an escrow account at the BGFI BANK, to then disappear. Egal SARL, whose funds were supposed to be destined, never touched them.

Alingete, who does not give up on the matter, has summoned the Managing Director of BGFI Bank more than 8 times to hear from him on several subjects.

According to sources quoted by congolese press, the central bank authorities, in particular Governor Déogratias Mutombo, and the former Minister Delegate to the Prime Minister and in charge of Finance Patrice Kitebi, are the basis of disbursement orders, both at the level of the Rawbank and ‘where the money and gone, that at the level of the BGFI Bank from where the money would have disappeared.

“There were people who gave orders to get the money out of the Rawbank Central Bank accounts and put it in an obscure escrow account, using the company Egal as a pretext. It is now proven that this money was never loaned to the company and is gone. They have to answer for this huge amount of money, “according to a source familiar with the matter.

“At the time, it was Patrice Kitebi who was in charge of finances. He and the Governor of the BCC, Deogratias Mutombo, must know where this money disappeared to, “added a source, who requested anonymity.

Patrice Kitebi, is now Managing Director of the Industry Promotion Fund; Déogratias Mutombo, Governor of the Central Bank.

According to reliable information, the IGF has completed its investigations and has sent the file to Adler Kisula, of the National Financial Intelligence Unit (CENAREF).

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Understanding ex-President Habyarimana’s Falcon 50 Jet

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On April 6, 1994, ex-President of Rwanda Maj. Gen. Juvenal Habyarimana was flying back from Arusha, Tanzania where he had gone for Peace Talks with Rwanda Patriotic Front.

However, as he approached Gregoire Kayibanda International Airport later renamed Kigali International Airport, his Jet was suddenly blown up by a rocket propelled grenade. Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira and other occupants in the Jet died instantly.

One may not talk about Rwanda’s turbulent past without mentioning the Dassault Falcon 50 – a French manufactured super-midsize, long-range business jet.

Habyarimana had acquired this Dassault Falcon 50 to facilitate him in flying to various destinations across the globe for an assortment of engagements.

The Falcon 50 became the world’s first civil aircraft featuring supercritical wings, and secured certification on February 27, 1979. The wing choice brought about a formidable technological breakthrough.

According to its specifications, this Jet could fly to a nonstop range of up to : 6,480 km. It has a Wingspan: 19 m, Top speed: 915 km/h Cruise speed: 888 km/h, Weight: 9,163 kg, and Engine type: Garrett TFE731.

The Falcon 50 was later updated as the Falcon 50EX, the first of which flew in 1996, and the last of which was delivered in 2008.

The Falcon 50EX features improved engines and other enhancements to give further range improvements to an already long-range jet.

The Falcon 50EX designation applies to serial numbers 253–352, which marks the end of the production line for the Falcon 50/50EX. The last Falcon 50EX was built in late 2007 and delivered in early 2008.

By 2018, Falcon 50s from the mid-late 1980s were priced at $0.879 to $1.6 million while 1998-2003 Falcon 50EXs can be had for $2.95 to $3.95 million.

Interior of Falcon 50 Jet

Explaining the Physics Of Falcon 50 Wings

The falcon 50 is fitted with what experts term as supercritical wings (SCW). They are flatter on the top, rounded on the bottom, and the upper trailing edge is accented with a downward curve to restore lift lost by flattening the upper surface.

In comparison, conventional wings are rounded on top and flat on the bottom.  

At speeds in the transonic range — just below and just above the speed of sound. The SCW delays the formation of the supersonic shock wave on the upper wing surface and reduces its strength, allowing the aircraft to fly faster with less effort.

The US government agency NASA responsible for civilian space program conducted a test program validating the SCW concept at the Dryden Flight Research Center from March 1971 to May 1973 and showed that the SCW installed on an F-8 Crusader test aircraft increased transonic efficiency by as much as 15%.

Ex-President Habyarimana Greets Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni after disembarking from his Falcon 50

 Supercritical Benefits

When an aircraft with a conventional wing nears a speed of sound (Mach 1), air flowing across the top of the wing moves faster and becomes supersonic. This creates a shock wave on the wing’s upper surface even though the aircraft, as a whole, has not exceeded Mach 1. The aircraft, at this point, is flying at what is called the critical speed.

The shockwave causes the smooth flow of air hugging the wing’s upper surface (the boundary layer) to separate from the wing and create turbulence.

Separated boundary layers are like wakes behind a boat — the air is unsteady and churning, and drag increases. This increases fuel consumption and it can also lead to a decrease in speed and cause vibrations.

In rare cases, aircraft have also become uncontrollable due to boundary layer separation. Supercritical wings have a flat-on-top “upside down” look.

As air moves across the top of a SCW it does not speed up nearly as much as over a curved upper surface.

This delays the onset of the shock wave and also reduces aerodynamic drag associated with boundary layer separation.

Lift that is lost with less curvature on the upper surface of the wing is regained by adding more curvature to the upper trailing edge.

Now the aircraft can cruise at a higher subsonic speed and easily fly up into the supercritical range. And with less drag, the aircraft is using less fuel than it would otherwise consume.

Higher subsonic cruise speeds and less drag translates into airliners and business jets getting to their destinations faster on less fuel, and they can fly farther — factors that help keep the cost of passenger tickets and air freight down.

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