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Items filtered by date: Monday, 30 October 2017

British oil explorer Tullow has reported a barren oil search from its latest drilling expedition in Turkana, ending its success streak for the first time this year.

The firm had struck two fresh oil finds in January and May, something that emboldened it to widen its search and raised prospects of increasing the country’s proven reserves. So far the country has discovered oil reserves estimated at 750 million barrels – which experts say are commercially viable for production and exports.

“The Araku-1 exploration well in Suriname has been drilled to a total depth of 2,685 metres and penetrated the objectives of the Araku prospect. No significant reservoir quality rocks were encountered although logging and sampling proved the presence of gas condensate,” Tullow said in its update.

“The well is now being plugged and abandoned”, the firm said adding that “geological insights gained from this well offer significant future exploration potential in the Group’s acreage.”

The Araku well was drilled in Block 54 which Tullow Oil operates jointly with partners Statoil and Noble Energy. Tullow in May announced it had struck 75 metres of oil in two zones at the Emekuya-1 well in Block 13T of the Lokichar basin, Turkana.

In Summary
  • So far the country has discovered oil reserves estimated at 750 million barrels – which experts say are commercially viable for production and exports.
  • Tullow in May announced it had struck 75 metres of oil in two zones at the Emekuya-1 well in Block 13T of the Lokichar basin, Turkana.
  • Kenya has announced it will resume plans for small-scale oil exports in December after suspending it in June.

The find came four months after the exploration company discovered another 25 metres of oil at Erut-1 well in the same block in January.

However, the firm reported a different experience, “The Araku-1 well was an ambitious wildcat exploration well that was drilled efficiently and at very low cost. While we have not made a commercial discovery, we are encouraged by recovering gas condensate from the well and remain fully committed to exploration in Suriname and Guyana,” Mr Angus McCoss, Tullow’s exploration director said in the statement

Kenya has announced it will resume plans for small-scale oil exports in December after suspending it in June. The country expects to move between 2,000 and 4,000 barrels of oil daily by trucks to be stored at the defunct Kenya Petroleum Refinery’s storage tanks in Mombasa port city, pending shipment. Tullow had by June already pumped out and stored 60,000 barrels of crude in Lokichar in readiness for transportation to Mombasa port by trucks.

 

Source: Daily Nation

Published in Engineering

In Nigeria, commercial aircraft fly fewer times than the recommended hours due to the infrastructure deficit. This results in huge revenue losses for airlines.

When airline operators describe Nigeria's air operating environment as harsh, they are actually referring to the lack of and obsolete essential facilities, double taxation, scarcity and high cost of aviation fuel as well as the dearth of indigenous personnel, especially in the technical department of the industry.

Airfield Lighting

One of the major limitations to the optimum utilisation of commercial aircraft in Nigeria is the lack of airfield lighting or runway lighting. These are lights that guide the aircraft to landing and take-off on the runway. Unfortunately only five airports out of 22 airports being managed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and six airports built by the state government have airfield lights that are being utilised currently. These airports include the Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, Kaduna and Abuja airports. Some other airports have the equipment but they are either redundant, in a state of disrepair or are waiting to be connected.

Lack of functional airfield lighting is a major setback for Nigerian airlines because they cut off about four operational hours from the daily flights of an airline designated for schedule operation. Industry experts who spoke to THISDAY said they are shocked that despite the importance of this equipment for safe airline operation, government has not been able to install it at all the airports and most of those installed in the past are in disrepair.

Revenues Losses

Industry experts are of the view that installation of airfield lighting at all the nation's airports will boost the revenue of domestic airlines to the tune of about N40 billion annually. This is the estimated amount of revenue that the airlines lose because they do not operate after 6:00 pm in more than 18 airports in the country owing to the lack of critical landing facility.

If the equipment is available, airlines would be able to operate extra four hours every day, from 6: PM to 10: PM to many of the nation's airports. Also, it will help the airlines to fully utilise their aircraft, which has stipulated minimum time it must be flown by their manufacturers.

Former Managing Director of one of the major domestic carriers told THISDAY in an interview that Nigerian airlines lose huge resources because they do not operate to many airports in the night.

"But you have to look at it in terms of potential additional revenue for operating for longer periods, perhaps into the night. Again you can also look at it in terms of underutilisation of the aircraft because they are not used for longer periods during the day. So at the end of the day you may estimate that what airlines lose should be in the region of 40 billion naira in a year. But this depends on how many of such airports that you think you can access," the source said.

The advantage of having such critical equipment is that it would help not only the airlines but passengers. Presently when technical or other problems occur in the daily operation of airlines that lead to delays, some flights that are delay beyond 6:00 PM may be cancelled if the destined airports do not have airfield lighting.

So the installation of the equipment will enable airlines to fly to Ibadan, Akure, Enugu, Owerri, Calabar, Yola and other airports where currently there is no airfield lighting after 6:00 pm.

It will also help safety of airline operations because during emergency in the night a troubled aircraft can land at the nearest airport, instead of looking for the one that has airfield lighting, which may be several kilometers away.

Aircraft Utilisation

Ideally a Boeing, B737, which is the popular operating aircraft in Nigeria flies for at least 18 hours a day and some fly for about 22 hours a day, but in Nigeria such aircraft fly for between 10 t0 12 hours. By 6:00 pm most airlines begin to shut down because their aircraft can no more fly to many of the airports. If majority of the airports have airfield lighting, many of these airlines could operate to 10: 00 pm and such airports that are located in the cities like the ones in Benin, Asaba, Enugu, Owerri, Uyo, Calabar, Ibadan and Akure could have been operating deep into the night.

But by 5:00 pm airlines cancel flights which they could not operate before 6:00 pm and when they cancel flights they lose revenue and a bit of their goodwill.

Disrepair

A senior official of FAAN from operations department told THISDAY on Monday that some of the runway lights are under repair; some are not connected while some airports are yet to have the installation of such lights on their runway. He said that in some airports where the runway light is functioning it is underutlised, which some active airports do not have the functional equipment.

"In some of the airports where we have airfield lighting they are under utilised because flights do not land there in the night. We have it in Maiduguri, we have it Sokoto, we have it in Katsina, we have it in Yola but they are not used because flights don't come there in the night. Kaduna airport has night landing facilities. Ilorin airport also has night landing facilities although they are not effectively used but if there is diversion or emergency they will be put on because Ilorin is alternative airport to Lagos.

"Recently Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) met with the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and he said that work has started at the Enugu airport runway, as the contractor has been called back to site; that when work on the runway is completed the light will be installed. In Owerri, the lighting facilities were vandalised and FAAN is reinstalling the equipment," the FAAN official said.

Flight Cancellations

Passengers have suffered tremendously due to flight cancellations occasioned by absence of runway light in some airports. Few years ago Arik Air had to make air return after arriving at Uyo airspace because the air traffic control which approved the flight's take off from Abuja said it would no more guarantee the flight safety on landing because it was getting dark and there was no airfield lighting; even when the aircraft, which was a New Generation equipment was installed to land under a twilight.

The flight took the passengers back to the airport in Abuja. Disappointed and enraged the passengers protested. They couldn't get to their destination, they had been inconvenienced tremendously and the airline has lost revenues, fight time and fuel. Also earlier this year, Air Peace boarded passengers from Abuja to Enugu and communicated with the air traffic control and airport management at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu and got the initial approval for the flight to proceed to Enugu but before takeoff, message came from Enugu that the airport would be closed by 6:00 pm; unless the airline would pay a whooping amount of money, which it considered outrageous. The airline had to abort that flight but the passengers who had already boarded, led by a former Senate President refused to de-board the flight. The aircraft which was already scheduled for another flight on return from Enugu could not operate the next flight.

Role of NCAA

Some industry experts say that as the regulator of the aviation industry, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority as part of safety measures could insist that without airfield lighting in an airport such airport should be closed. They noted that the idea of not having airfield lighting in major and secondary airports in the country started when the Ministry of Aviation started awarding runway rehabilitation contracts differently from the installation of runway lights and noted that ideally the two contracts were usually awarded together.

"NCAA can insist that it will not approve any airport without runway light to take in flights. This should be for safety measure so that in the time of emergency an aircraft can land anywhere. For example, the Asaba airport should not have been opened without airfield lighting. The state government decided to build an airport; he should have been given a minimum standard which would include well equipped runway and Category 3 Instrument Landing System (ILS).

"So NCAA can insist that all the airports built by the state governments must not be allowed to operate without runway light; this will ensure that as you are building the airports you are installing runway lights on the runway. We need to be strict with these safety critical facilities. Today airlines are losing so much money because this critical equipment is not in these airports," one industry observer told THISDAY.

Landing Instrument

The Chairman of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) Captain Nogie Meggison said similar challenges to airline operation include poor navigational and landing aids (Instrument Landing System and others) that limits operations to daylight operation for most airports (Nigerian airlines fly an average of only five hours as against the average of 10 hours worldwide per airplane); high cost and epileptic supply of Jet A1; Obsolete infrastructure that hampers the ease of doing business; and lack of consultations with airlines before introduction of new charges and policies among others, "which throws off the feasibility studies of airlines out the window."

Public, Private Partnership

Industry observers are suggesting that the federal government should take its public, private partnership (PPP) seriously so that it would divest financial commitment on landside infrastructure by ceding airport terminal and associated facilities development and management to the private sector, while it concentrates in providing critical equipment on the airside, which are very crucial for the landing and take-off of flights. For this to happen, they suggested that government must have a defined policy on PPP, accompanied by legal and administrative framework that will guide investors in investing in airport infrastructure.

The Director-General of NCAA, Captain Muhtar Usman, told THISDAY that in concession, government would not give out the airside for safety and security reasons; so it would be the sole responsibility of government to provide such critical facilities as landing aids, radar and communication equipment in addition to providing perimeter and security fence at the airports.

Many travellers judge the beauty of airports by visible facilities like the terminal, the car park and the landscape; what keeps aircraft safe on landing and take-off include such critical infrastructure as airfield lighting, but over the years, government has reneged in proving this important equipment for all the airport runways in the country.

 

- This Day

Published in Travel & Tourism
Monday, 30 October 2017 09:32

WhatsApp now lets you unsend messages

We're usually forced to live with our mistakes in this world, but WhatsApp is now giving us a way to erase our little embarrassments.

Starting now (at least for some users), if you accidentally send a message to someone, you'll be able to delete it for everyone who can read it as long as you act within seven minutes. WhatsApp describes the process more thoroughly in an updated FAQ entry.

WhatsApp already gave the illusion of allowing this, but the truth was that only you would see the message deleted from your client.

Whoever else you sent the message to would continue seeing it until they deleted it themselves, which could be a problem if you sent the message to the wrong person or it "contains a mistake." We suspect that's likely a euphemism.

The feature is clearly labeled, too, so you'll now see an option called "delete for everyone" when you select the trash can option after holding down your thumb on the message. Whenever someone on the other end tries to read the message in the future, they'll just get a notification saying, "This message was deleted." Again, though, you'll have to act within seven minutes of sending the message for it to work.

Update and wait

You may have to wait a while to enjoy the full benefits. For one, it's a gradual rollout, so not every user has it yet. Secondly, both users must have the latest version of WhatsApp running for it to work properly. Otherwise you may hit "delete for everyone" and sadly find that everyone but you can still see it. WhatsApp won't send you a notification if this turns out to be the case.

And then, of course, there's always the chance that the recipient will see your message anyway, allowing them to screenshot your "mistakes" for everyone to see. In other words, we're glad the feature has made it to WhatsApp, but you might want to play it safe and just be better aware of what you're sending when you send a message.

Rumors about the feature first dropped last month, and we're happy to see it made it into the live build.

 

Credit: TechRadar

Published in Telecoms

I remember walking through the rubble of burnt out buildings some months after Kenya’s 2008 post-election violence. Houses owned by ethnic Kikuyu were razed to the ground in the city of Kisumu. A large night club was also raided and then set on fire.

A friend and guide who was showing me around refused to follow me into the ruins. She herself had feared for her life in the chaos that followed that election. Though she was ethnic Luhya, youths had encircled her house in the dead of night, believing her to be Kikuyu and threatening to torch her house. She hid with her son the entire night and eventually the youths went away.

Stopping by a demolished wall I read in paint, “No Raila, No Peace”. This was a reference to Raila Odinga, who disputed the election of Mwai Kibaki as president in December 2007. He is now leader of the opposition coalition National Super Alliance (NASA).

Kenya has just conducted a rerun of the 8 August 2017 presidential elections that were invalidated by the Supreme Court following copious evidence of irregularities. In line with the Constitution, the rerun had to take place within 60 days. And so on 26 October Kenyans went to the polls once more, though not everyone.

Odinga was on the ballot even though he had declared that he would play no part. In the run up to the repeat election, Odinga demanded the electoral commission make reforms that he believed necessary to avoid the previous mistakes. NASA provided a list of “irreducible minimums” that had to be implemented before free and fair elections could be guaranteed.

Declaring that these reforms had not been made, Odinga announced that he would not stand for election. He also called on his supporters to boycott the vote and hold rallies in protest of the electoral commission in the preceding weeks. Turning up the temperature even higher, a day before the repeat election he announced that NASA was no longer a political coalition but a “resistance movement”.

On 26 October, his supporters honoured his call to boycott the vote. This led to a drop in turnout that affected not only his traditional heartlands but the country’s north east and coastal areas as well. This is a contrast to Kenya’s record of extremely high political participation.

Odinga’s call was for peaceful non-participation. But confrontation did mar election day. MPs and other politicians in Odinga’s Nyanza region had, in the run-up to election day, been threatening retaliation against the security forces. Their supporters in four counties created enough disturbance that polling had to be delayed and postponed. Youth gangs were out in force roaming numerous tallying centres to harass both election officials and voters.

More alarmingly still, police brutality was also evident on election day. Over 20 people suffered gun shot injuries in Kisumu alone. Reports indicated that many of those attacked over the course of the campaign period were confronted by the police in slum areas, stoking suspicions that these were extrajudicial killings utterly unnecessary for establishing law and order.

A broken election

What has become a broken election was doomed at the start by the almost impossible time frame given by the Supreme Court. After ruling that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had made fatal mistakes in the conduct of the 8 August election, it took another 21 days to provide the details of exactly what those mistakes were.

With the 60 day countdown looming, the ground shifted again when the High Court ruled that the election was open to additional candidates, not just the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and Odinga.

The back and forth between the courts did not end there. On October 25 the Supreme Court was called upon to decide whether the new polls were being lawfully held. The grounds for this opposition-backed petition was that the IEBC had failed to facilitate fresh nominations.

Only two judges were available to hear the petition; five are required to form a quorum. So the petition was postponed, further destroying the election’s credibility in the eyes of those opposed to Kenyatta.

Broken institutions

The institutions steering this election – the IEBC, the courts and parliament – have evidently broken down. They have become the shattered remains through which an iron fist is descending on the country to reestablish political stability by any means necessary.

In a sign of what was to come, the electoral commission’s CEO took three weeks’ leave in the runup to election day, bowing to pressure from the opposition coalition.

Shortly beforehand, IEBC Commissioner Roselyn Akombe fled to New York, stating ominously that her fear over the safety of election staff in the field,

was met with more extremist responses from most Commissioners, who are keen to have an election even if it is at the cost of the lives of our staff and voters.

Odinga is partly to blame for the ease with which this iron fist is descending. He started his opposition through the courts but then failed to follow through, switching to mass action instead. He declared he would not contest the election but then failed to submit the relevant form to the IEBC – so there was no legal requirement to have the ballot papers changed.

That was a strategic blunder that inadvertently framed Kenyatta as the one campaigning for Kenyans to have a chance to vote. It’s a strategic blunder that will likely end Odinga’s political career. It also means he cannot subsequently claim in the Supreme Court that the election should not have gone ahead.

NASA’s decision to declare the coalition a “resistance movement” signifies that it believes the IEBC and Kenya’s core political institutions are fully undermined. What they fail to see is that this has a direct effect of splitting the opposition in two.

While the presidential election required a rerun, all other elected positions continue in place. There are MPs, governors and senators of the NASA coalition who will not leave their positions to join a less formalised resistance movement, though they will show their support for Odinga in rhetoric. This breaks the opposition into insiders and outsiders, rendering it even weaker than previously feared.

 

Dominic Burbidge, Postdoctoral Researcher, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Economy

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a line of credit (LOC) of US$ 3 million (synthetic local currency equivalent) to Union Trust Bank Sierra Leone (UTB) to help finance projects and enterprises in transformational sectors such as agriculture, energy, manufacturing and services, with strong emphasis on women-owned businesses.

UTB is the only indigenous private bank in Sierra Leone and an important provider of finance for indigenous micro, small and medium- sized enterprises.

This facility also entails the provision of Technical Assistance support of US$ 320,000 and an additional US$ 300,000 from the Transition Support Facility to subsidize the cost of a synthetic swap associated with conversion of the proceeds of the facility into local currency for ease of lending to local businesses.

The facility is expected to deliver strong development outcomes by enhancing access to finance (under competitive terms and longer tenors than typically available in Sierra Leone) to SMEs, indigenous firms and women-owned enterprises in Sierra Leone as the country seeks to rebuild following the widespread damage caused by the Ebola Viral Disease epidemic and more recently, devastating mudslides which displaced thousands of people.

Most of the funding is expected to be channeled towards women and rural dwellers. The project will enhance private sector development, by demonstrating the viability of investing in growth oriented SMEs. Increased revenue by the beneficiaries at sub-project level will lead to incremental tax accrual to governments. The facility will also support financial inclusion, gender and social benefits as well as fiscal impacts.

This will be the first Line of Credit by the AfDB to UTB and demonstrates AfDB’s continued commitment to assist Regional Member Countries experiencing fragility.

Published in Bank & Finance

  1. Opinions and Analysis

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