Fly Africa to open new routes in East and West Africa

Southern Africa-focused low-cost airline Fly Africa will expand to fly new routes to destinations in East and West Africa, Gabon’s president said on Saturday.

“One of the biggest contributions that we as Africans can make to Africa’s development is to open the skies for direct affordable travel between African states,” said Ali Bongo at the New York Forum in Gabon’s capital Libreville.

A statement from Fly Africa said that the expansion was possible because of a “strategic partnership between the Government of Gabon and African industrialist, venture capitalist and philanthropist Ivor Ichikowitz”.

Fly Africa, majority-owned by the family of its CEO Chaka Karase, was launched last year in southern Africa and has cut prices by 50-70 percent on routes between Johannesburg and Harare.

The airline said it would shortly launch new routes to Namibia, Gabon, Benin and Zambia followed by destinations in east Africa.

Many routes within Africa are expensive and circuitous, and it is often cheaper to travel between African capitals via Paris. The International Air Transport Association expects passenger growth in Africa to be the highest in the world over the next 20 years as population booms.

Fly Africa will compete with national carriers like Kenya Airways and Air Cote d’Ivoire as well as West and Central African regional airline ASKY.


South Africa’s Bidvest Group profit rises on food business African conglomerate Bidvest Group reported an 8.6 percent rise in annual profit on Monday, buoyed by its food service business.

Bidvest, whose business spans auto showrooms, shipping and catering, said diluted headline earnings per share totalled 1,882 cents in year to end-June, slightly better than the mean estimate of 11 analysts in a Reuter’s poll.

Headline EPS is the most widely watched profit measure in South Africa and strips out certain one-off items.

Bidvest is largely insulated from tough economic conditions at home thanks to its large food business in Asia and Europe, where it makes about half of its sales.

Sales rose 11.6 percent to 204.9 billion rand ($15.41 billion).

Africa: Uhuru Kenyatta to Revive Ailing African Peer Review Mechanism

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta is leading efforts to give a fresh impetus to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), which was initiated 12 years ago to institutionalise good governance and democratic leadership on the continent.

The Kenyan leader, who was elected APRM forum chairperson in June, will convene a summit of heads of state on September 11 to resolve the problems that have frustrated the initiative, including failure by states to fund activities and reluctance by some countries to be peer-reviewed.

The APRM was the brainchild of former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who led other African heads of state in signing onto a programme that would see countries agreeing to be assessed by fellow African countries and encouraged to improve their governance.

It was seen as a major step towards ensuring Africans were finding solutions to African problems, and taking charge of the continent’s destiny. With the APRM defining “good governance” and “democracy” in the African context, it was envisaged to enable African countries to conduct their own appraisals, have constructive dialogue with each other and share best practices among themselves.

In APRM, the region’s leaders not only saw an African-owned and African-driven system that would help Africa improve its governance; but they also saw a political tool that could help them keep the West from poking its nose in its affairs.

It helped many countries to open up the political space and its reports have been used by donors, foreign investors and nations such as Ghana to build their international reputation as reformers and well-governed countries.

However, the APRM has faded fast from the collective memories of most Africans because a number of the 35 countries that have signed up -don’t pay their minimum $100,000 annual contribution.

Last year, Djibouti requested to be reviewed, but APRM said it was too broke to travel to the country to conduct the review – which costs anything between $1 million to $3 million. Another problem facing APRM is that very few countries that have signed up are not willing to be reviewed. To date, only 17 out of 35 member countries have been reviewed. In 2006, Ghana completed its first review, followed by Rwanda and Kenya in 2007.

Algeria and South Africa did their review in 2008 while Benin, Uganda, Nigeria and Burkina Faso in 2009. Mali, Mozambique and Lesotho followed in 2010, Mauritius in 2011, Ethiopia; in 2012 and the last countries to be reviewed were Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Zambia in 2013.

And those that have been reviewed more often than not refuse to implement the recommendations and reforms proposed by the review team.

Whale watching in South Africa is an experience you will never forget aren’t many places on Earth where you can perch on a massive white sand dune – or sit outside a bar, cold beer in hand – and watch whales frolic in the surf.

But that’s what hordes of people flock to do along South Africa’s south coast. Around this time of year, southern right whales start making their way from the Antarctic to calve and mate.

They come in to the protected shores around the southern tip of Africa to have their babies in August and September and the males arrive for mating in a few weeks.

A fantastically remote place to take in this spectacle is from the top of a sand dune at the magnificent De Hoop Nature Reserve – just three hours from Cape Town.

In addition to whale watching in this World Heritage Site, you can enjoy guided marine walks and hiking trails through 36,000 hectares of rare fynbos vegetation or hop on a bicycle or quad bike and get up close to antelope like bontebok and eland, as well as zebra, baboons and ostriches.

The beaches are spectacular and the rock pools perfect for exploring. Hardy types can do the five-day Whale Trail walk. There is a great range of accommodation spread out along a bird-rich estuary and the Fig Tree restaurant serves delicious local dishes. Get them to pack you a picnic and head for those dunes with your binoculars.

If you’d prefer to combine wildlife with nightlife, there’s no better place than Hermanus, a lively town just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town, which holds a whale festival every year (October 2-4 this year).

The famous Whale Crier will alert you to any sightings in Walker Bay – all you have to do is sit outside one of the bars or restaurants along the cliffs of the New Harbour and the whales basically come to you! There are various lookout points along the cliffs.

And if you fancy getting near enough to hear their tummies rumble – or even get wet when they spout water – you can clamber onto the rocks on the seafront. The sea shelf falls away dramatically here, so the whales come in really close to show off their calves.

If you’re lucky they’ll even put on a show – breaching (backflips clear out of the water), spy-hopping (popping up nose first) and lobtailing (for that great shot of its fluke as it dives under water). September and October is usually peak season, but I have sat outside a pub with a cold glass of sauvignon blanc and watched 20 whales belly-flop and back-flip their way around Walker Bay well into November.

At other times of the year you’ll find schools of hundreds of dolphins feeding on sardines – you can watch from the shore, or take a boat trip around the bay. Thrill seekers can go cage-diving at nearby Gansbaai for close encounters with great white sharks – while gentler types can head 40 minutes in the opposite direction to Betty’s Bay to see penguins waddling about on the beach.

These are a few of the best places to enjoy the abundant marine life – but you sometimes don’t even have to leave Cape Town. Whales are spotted all along the coast at this time of year and around Seal Island – just off the shores of False Bay – is the only place in the world where you can see great whites leap out of the water to attack seals from below. All this just an overnight flight away – with no jetlag. You could even make a long weekend of it…

Le Clos, Van der Burgh, Coventry Highlight All Africa Games’ Athletes

Le closThe 11th edition of the All Africa Games is coming full circle, as the host of the original Games back is 1965, Brazzaville, Congo, is set to host the continental competition again for the 2015 version. The 2015 All African Games, which encompasses a total of 34 sporting disciplines, is set to kick-off on Wednesday, September 2nd, with swimming events slated to take place September 6th-11th.

2015 All Africa Games Official Site
The multi-national meet, which takes place every four years, has seen some big stars take the swimming stage in the past. Cameron Van der Burgh (RSA), Chad Le Clos (RSA), Kirsty Coventry (ZMB) and Farida Osman (EGY) all hold records from previous Games, as well as Darian Townsend from when the now-American citizen still competed for South Africa.

This year’s competition will carry over most of those African swimming powerhouses, most likely with the Olympic hopefuls taking advantage of the big stage as additional preparation for Rio. South Africa’s Games roster includes such primetime athletes as Myles Brown, Calvyn Justus, Karin Prinsloo, as well as the aforementioned Van der Burgh and Le Clos.

Kirsty Coventry has also confirmed her participation at the meet, representing her home country of Zimbabwe. This will be Coventry’s third All Africa Games appearance, having already competed at the 2007 and 2011 editions. She holds an impressive five meet records across the 50m/100m/200m backstroke and the 200m IM and 400m IM events. Coventry recently qualified for her fifth Olympic Games, securing her spot in Rio with her 100m backstroke time of 1:00.09 at the World Championships in Kazan.

FINA visited the country of Congo in December 2014 in an effort to elevate the level of officiating skills among the local resources in preparation for these Games. At that time, Congo currently had no technical officials or judges who could officiate major events, but, after having been awarded the Games, the country prioritized training. The country collaborated with FINA in the hopes of not having to invest in the costly procurement of outside officials for the meet.