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Uganda’s Airbus Rolls Off Assembly Line, Begins Test Flights

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Airbus has rolled off the assembly line Uganda’s A330-800neo which has already taken to the skies for multiple testing before it can be handed to the East African country soon in December.

With this as another addition to Uganda’s young national carrier revived recently after three decades is expected to trigger competition among the regional airline industry.

The aircraft will be one of the first A330-800neo aircraft to enter service, Airbus’ latest A330 variant to date. Uganda has made orders for two airbuses.

Uganda’s nation carrier which launched operations in August of 2019 has been relying only on a fleet of just four Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft flying to nearby destinations including flights to Tanzania, Burundi and Kenya.

The A330-800neo aircraft could be lined up for long haul destinations especially to Dubai, Mumbai, Guangzhou and London. The first route to launch will be Entebbe (EBB) to London Heathrow (LHR), which will begin in early 2021. Mumbai will be added as the second neo arrives in Uganda.

According to the Uganda government, the carrier is scheduled to configure its new planes with three classes, including 20 business class, 28 premium economy and 213 economy class seats, for a total of 261.

Last month, Airbus delivered two aircrafts with similar specifications to Kuwait. The two planes with space for 235 passengers each were flown from Airbus’ production site in Toulouse, France, to Kuwait City.

Airbus has only 10 orders of the A330-800neo variant- two orders from Uganda and Kuwait Airways holds orders for the remaining eight aircraft, and hopes to enter them into service in the near future.

This the A330-800neo variant joins a fleet of Airbus A320, A320neo, A330-200 and Boeing 777-300ER.

However, this A330-800 is the smaller of the two A330neo versions on offer. It performed its first flight back in November 2018 and was certified by the EASA and FAA in February this year.

Airbus has struggled to find a decent amount of orders for it, as most airlines have so far opted for the slightly larger A330-900, which has gained a total of 318 orders as of September, compared to just 14 for the -800.

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Mozambique Scandal: Credit Suisse & U.S. Conclude Deal

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Credit Suisse Group AG is nearing an agreement with the U.S. government that would resolve a criminal probe regarding its role in a U$2 billion Mozambique bond scandal, according to people familiar with the matter.

The discussions with the U.S. Justice Department involve a deferred prosecution agreement that would include a fine, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are confidential. An agreement is expected to be announced Tuesday.

Any deal with U.S. prosecutors would be the latest action in a multi-year, international legal saga arising out of the 2013-14 deals that were supposed to fund a new coastal patrol force and tuna fishing fleet in Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries.

In a 2018 indictment, the U.S. Justice Department alleged the contracts were a front for government officials and bankers to enrich themselves.

Three former Credit Suisse bankers have pleaded guilty to U.S. charges stemming from the scheme.

Credit Suisse declined to comment on any agreement, as did the U.S. Justice Department.

A deal could help put to bed one scandal, even as the bank has been punished this year by investors for its stumbles with Archegos Capital Management and Greensill Capital, which have spurred broad management shakeups.

Mozambique has filed suit against Credit Suisse and shipbuilder Privinvest, one of several cases in U.K. courts that involve the bond deal.

Unlawful Conduct’

In defending its London lawsuit, Credit Suisse has insisted that it was deceived by rogue bankers and couldn’t be held responsible for their “unlawful conduct” when it arranged the loans in early 2013.

The Swiss bank has said it carried out its usual due diligence before the transactions and was aware of the risk of bribery and corruption.

Andrew Pearse, who led the global financing group in the bank’s London office, testified at a federal trial in Brooklyn, New York that he’d pocketed at least U$45 million in illicit payments for his role in the arrangement of the loans.

The Credit Suisse loans were for three separate maritime projects including a tuna fishing fleet, the building of a shipyard and surveillance operation to protect Mozambique’s coastline and protect against pirates, according to Pearse.

Mozambican government officials, corporate executives and investment bankers stole about U$200 million, prosecutors said.

Both Pearse and his successor at the bank, Surjan Singh, who also pleaded guilty, testified at the 2019 trial of Jean Boustani, a Privinvest Group executive accused by the U.S. of being behind the plan to get Mozambique to borrow billions of dollars and overpay for dubious maritime projects.

A third banker, Datelina Subeva, Pearse’s subordinate, also pleaded guilty but didn’t testify.

All three bankers await sentencing. After a six-week trial in late 2019, a federal jury cleared Boustani of all charges.

Bloomberg

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DRC Opposition Protests Against Phone Tax

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Martin Fayulu, DRCs leader of opposition coalition LAMUKA has called upon all citizens to take to the streets and demand for the abolition of a controversial mobile phone tax.

In June 2020, the DRC government set up – through the ICT, Post and Telecoms Ministry – a CEIR system (Central Equipment Identification Register), with the aim to fight fake devices and the theft of mobile devices.

However, Telephony mobile users claim the Mobile Device Registry (RAM), a controversial new tax is robbing them of their units and making them poorer.

In terms of RAM, mobile operators are cutting a big chunk of units monthly from their customers’ mobile devices, which many users believe is too high and unnecessary.

“We are calling for the immediate withdrawal of RAM. Because it’s theft, a scam. That no one is demobilized. Let’s march and denounce it because it is outright  theft. Once withdrawn, all money collected must be returned, ”said Martin Fayulu.

During a meeting this Saturday, October 16, 2021 in Kinshasa, Martin Fayulu called for the outright abolition of this fee.

During the rally, the leader of Lamuka pinpointed other topical issues, including the issue of appointing the leaders of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

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Tanzania’s Economy Records 4.3% Expansion in 2nd Quarter

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Tanzania’s economic outlook seems very impressive as the country registered a 4.3% expansion between April and June according to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Compared to the country’s economic performance in the same period last year, there has been a 0.3% upward expansion.

Briefing the media on Friday, Daniel Masolwa NBS Director of Economics Statistics, said, “Real GDP increased to Shs 33.4trillion from Shs 32trillion in the corresponding period in 2020, an equivalent to a 4.3% growth,” he said.

During the second Quarter of 2020, Tanzania’s economy registered the lowest growth rate of 4.0% since 2017 mainly due to the devastating effects of Covid-19 pandemic following the introduction of lockdowns and many countries to mitigate spread of this pandemic.

However, Masolwa tried to cool down any skepticism saying, the annual economic growth in 2021 is projected at a 5.0% rate. In terms of economic activities, he  said, during the period under review, information and communication attained the highest growth of 12.3%, followed by electricity generation at 12.1%.

Meanwhile, other services include arts and entertainment and households as employers (10.8%), accommodation and food services (10.1%), water (8.4%), and mining and quarrying (7.3%).

According to Masolwa, the expansion of economy by 4.3% during the second Quarter of 2021 was spearheaded by key drivers of growth which include Agriculture (13%), transport and storage (8.4%), trade and maintenance (8.1%), manufacturing (7.6%) and construction (7.1%).

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