Eleven dead in a Tanzania plane crash

Posted on

A tragic plane crash happened in Empakaai, near Ngorongoro, Tanzania on November 15, 2017. The Cessna 208 Caravan plane, operated by Coastal Aviation, was flying from Arusha to Serengeti National Park. Ten passengers and the sole pilot perished in the accident (Reuters news piece).

Despite being a relatively small plane, eleven victims make it among the worst plane crashes in 2017, that has been a remarkably quiet year in terms of aviation accidents.

Yet there has been very little about the crash in the international media, even if the plane carried western tourists. There is space for only one Africa news item at a time, and for the last few days it has been the coup in Zimbabwe.

Only three weeks earlier did the airline have another accident, it was only luck that everyone survived that time ( Dar Post report ).

Coastal Aviation has been known to be a reliable airline serving mainly tourist with scheduled and chartered flights between main cities, national parks and Zanzibar.  These accidents are a major blow to the airline, which may now face uncertain times.


Learn Swahili on Duolingo

Posted on

Duolingo is arguably the best free online language learning platform available. Duolingo can be used through its website or mobile app.

The selection of languages on Duolingo has been fairly limited, but it is quality over quantity. When writing my previous blog post about on-line language learning, I certainly did not imagine a Duolingo Swahili course to be reality only a year later!

Read the rest of this entry »

Univisa reinstated

Posted on

The Kaza Univisa, a common visa between Zambia and Zimbabwe, was introduced in 2014, only to be scrapped the next year. However, it has now been reinstated.

The Visa cost stays at 50 USD. Nationals of just 40 countries are eligible for the visa, these are mostly western countries. Nationals of most neighboring countries, on the other hand, can visit these countries visa-free.

Univisa will be valid for 30 days and allows multiple crossings between the two countries (limited by passport pages as it gets stamped at every crossing!). If re-entering from a third country, a new visa has to be obtained, even if the previous visa is still valid. The only exception is a day trip to Botswana (most likely a safari to Chobe National Park).

The visa can be obtained on arrival at these airports:  Lusaka, Livingstone, Victoria Falls and Harare. It is also issued at the two Kazungula border posts bordering Botswana with Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively. Unfortunately, those arriving by land from other countries, like South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi or Tanzania still cannot obtain the visa.


Google Earth – see the world now and then without leaving desktop

Posted on

Google Earth is a great tool to browse the world. The service has been around over ten years now, and it has constantly improved by addition of better quality images, and new features, among them the Street View and historical imagery.

The availability of historical views varies from place to place, the earliest satellite pictures usually dating from 70’s or 80’s. Detailed pictures, however, are only available since early 2000’s.

Detailed imagery of Cape Town 16 years ago

Read the rest of this entry »

African medal performance at the 2016 Olympics

Posted on Updated on

The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, finished a week ago. Traditionally, African nations gather most of their medals in athletics, particularly middle- and long distance running, led by Kenyans and Ethiopians. Only a small fraction of medals come from other sports. South Africa, for example, produces good swimmers and rowers, while Egypt has been good in weightlifting. Olympic football gold has been won by an African country twice.

African countries got a total of 45 medals at the 2016 Olympics, 10 of them golden. If Africa was a country, it would have been placed 7th on the medal table, just above France.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tanzania tax increases hit tourists hard

Posted on

Tanzania has recently introduced an 18% Value-added tax (VAT) on tourism services , including ground transportation, tour guides, parks fees and camping fees. Hotel fees are not affected, as these are already subject to VAT.

Tour operators and other tourism stakeholders have appealed the government to repeal the tax, so far to deaf ears. Both Kenya and Zimbabwe issued new taxes on tourism recently, only to scrap them after realizing how badly these affects tourism. Thanks to internet, tourists today are more price-sensitive than ever, and will easily change their destination in favour of a cheaper option. Kenya’s recovering tourism will certainly benefit of new taxes in their southern neighbor.

Read the rest of this entry »

Saint Helena airport – expensive mistake?

Posted on Updated on

Saint Helena is a remote Atlantic volcanic Island, nearly 2000 Km from mainland Africa. Saint Helena is a British overseas territory having a population is 4255, according to a census eight years ago.

The location of Saint Helena

Still today, the only transport connection to the outside world is by the ship RMS Saint Helena from Cape town, departing twice a month. The trip takes five days. RMS Saint Helena is set to be retired by the end of the year.

In contrast, a flight would take only about 3-4 hours. After years of planning, the airport construction commenced in 2012 and the airport was completed this year. Building an airport at this island was not an easy task. The island is highly rugged, and there is very limited space for a runway.

But only after the first test flights by commercial airlines it emerged wind conditions there are very difficult, even dangerous. Plans to start commercial traffic to the airport had to be put on hold. Now they have an airport, that cost £285 million, but no traffic there!

Read the rest of this entry »