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Ethiopian Airlines CEO says anti-stall system may have activated crash

Boeing is expected this week to unveil a patch to the MCAS system

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Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 777F Cargo Aircraft

An anti-stall system believed to have caused a fatal October jet crash in Indonesia was probably also involved in this month’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that killed all 157 people onboard, the carrier’s CEO said on Monday.

Tewolde GebreMariam told The Wall Street Journal an automatic anti-stalling system specific to the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft was “to the best of our knowledge” activated on the fatal March 10 crash of Flight ET 302 minutes into its journey to Nairobi.

Although he is not a part of the official crash probe and gave no details on how he knew of the system’s activation, Tewolde’s comment adds pressure on Boeing to fix the popular aircraft model, which was grounded worldwide after the disaster.

Ethiopia’s transport minister last week said “clear similarities” exist between the Ethiopian crash and the October crash of an Indonesian Lion Air jet which killed all 189 passengers and crew.

Investigators in that case have honed in on the MCAS automated anti-stalling system designed to point the nose of the 737 MAX 8 downward if it is in danger of stalling, or losing lift.

Boeing is expected this week to unveil a patch to the MCAS system, with the aim of getting the model back in the air.

Confidence

Tewolde’s comments to The Wall Street Journal came the same day as the CEO issued a statement saying the carrier “believes in” Boeing despite the crash.

“Let me be clear: Ethiopian Airlines believes in Boeing. They have been a partner of ours for many years,” he wrote.

“We will work with investigators in Ethiopia, in the US and elsewhere to figure out what went wrong,” Tewolde added.

He also hit back at reports critical of Ethiopian’s safety record.

The New York Times reported last week that the pilot of the doomed flight had not trained on a 737 MAX 8 simulator.

“Contrary to some media reports, our pilots who fly the new model were trained on all appropriate simulators,” Tewolde said in the Monday statement.

The Washington Post also reported that the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) received two complaints about Ethiopian’s training and safety record in 2015, before the 737 MAX 8 was in use.

Tewolde announced on Saturday the airline would sue both publications for “publishing baseless defamatory stories”, according to Ethiopia’s state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s largest carrier and has had a long association with American aviation.

Founded in 1945 with assistance from former American carrier Trans World Airlines (TWA), Boeing aircraft make up the majority of the Ethiopian fleet.

Tewolde called for the 737 MAX 8’s grounding after the crash, but in the statement struck a conciliatory tone towards Boeing.

“Despite the tragedy, Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines will continue to be linked well into the future,” he said.

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Zimbabwe declares interim RTGS dollar sole legal tender

The RTGS dollar was introduced in February 2019 as a first step towards a new currency by the year’s end

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Zimbabwe declares interim RTGS dollar sole legal tender
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Zimbabwe has adopted its interim currency as the country’s sole legal tender on Monday in a bid to stem black market demand for foreign currencies.

The RTGS dollar was introduced in February 2019 as a first step towards a new currency by the year’s end. This is a main part of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s plan to stabilise an economy racked by inflation and widespread shortages.

According to the official statement, “the British pound, United States dollar, South African rand, Botswana pula, and any other foreign currency shall no longer be legal tender alongside the Zimbabwe dollar in any transactions in Zimbabwe”.

The latest variation of the domestic currency, the RTGS, has struggled to gain trust among large corporations and everyday Zimbabweans. Economic analysts fear 2009 may repeat itself with the interim currency.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) requested that the central bank allows the RTGS to float freely so that exporters could sell dollars at the interbank rate rather than surrender them to the central bank

On the official interbank rate, the RTGS currency was pegged at 6.2 but on Monday, it traded between 11 and 12 against the dollar on the unofficial market.

But, Zimbabweans are complaining that goods and services are still being priced in other currencies. While more than 80% of Zimbabweans earn RTGS dollars, goods ranging from bricks to rentals, car parts and many groceries have their prices pegged in U.S. dollars.

Inflation has climbed to a decade high 97.86%, eroding salaries and savings and causing Zimbabweans to fear a return to the hyperinflation of 2008 when the rate reached 500 billion per cent.

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Nigeria’s central bank will keep controversial FX system

Emefiele added that the bank also hopes to continue working with the Deposit Money Banks to improve access to credit

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Nigeria's central bank will keep controversial FX system

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced its plan for the next five years. The current governor of the bank, Godwin Emefiele stated the five main focal points of his second term to drive the Monetary Policy roadmap throughout 2019-2024 at the CBN Headquarters in Abuja.

In his words, “our priorities at the CBN over the next 5 years are the following; preserve domestic macro-economic and financial stability; foster the development of a robust payments system infrastructure that will increase access to finance for all Nigerians, thereby raising the financial inclusion rate in the country”, he says.

Emefiele added that the bank also hopes to continue working with the Deposit Money Banks to improve access to credit for not only smallholder farmers and MSMEs, but also consumer credit and mortgage facilities for bank customers.

“Our intervention support shall also be extended to our youth population who possess entrepreneurship skills in the creative industry. This group deserves our encouragement. We shall also during this intervening period encourage our Deposit Money Banks to direct more focus in supporting the Education Sector”.

Related: Nigeria’s apex bank to offer seven-year loans to youth corps members

In addition to these, there is also a need to grow the country’s external reserves and lastly, support efforts at diversifying the economy through the various intervention programs in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

The CBN Governor said he was confident that when implemented, the aforementioned measures will help to insulate the economy from potential shocks in the global economy.

Related: Senate confirms Emefiele for second term as Nigeria’s Central Bank governor

“In my second term in office, part of my pledge is to work to the best of my abilities in fulfilling these objectives,” he adds.

Emefiele was first appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014 and was retained after Buhari assumed office in 2015.

On May 8, President Muhmmdu Buhari informed the Senate in a statement that he had decided to nominate the CBN governor for a second term.

Related: Nigeria’s Central Bank governor named for second term

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West Africa Crude-Nigerian OSPs boost seller confidence

In Angola, around half a dozen cargoes remain for July loading, while the preliminary programme for August added another 45 cargoes

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West Africa Crude-Nigerian OSPs boost seller confidence
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Nigeria has increased its official selling price (OSP) for major crude grades on perked-up demand. Nigeria’s National Petroleum Corporation significantly raised the July OSP for major grades, Bonny Light 156 cents per barrel last month, to 204 cents and Qua Iboe, from 171 cents per barrel, to 215 cents.

The move shows the new confidence in Nigerian barrels of oil has been selling to Europe in June, due to shortfalls hitting competing North Sea fields. But at least, 20 cargoes remain for July loading, as preliminary August programmes were awaited imminently.

In Angola, around half a dozen cargoes remain for July loading, while the preliminary programme for August added another 45 cargoes.

China’s Unipec is still offering West African cargoes on the Platts Window after doing so for several grades last month, partly to attract market attention due to slow demand and also to offload unwanted crude.

Asian refining margins for 10 parts per million (ppm) gasoil, a key middle distillate refined from heavier Angolan barrels, slipped on Friday as crude prices rose, a sign that Asian demand for heavier West African (WAF) crude may remain sluggish in the interim.

Finalization of state oil company, Sonangol’s term allocations was expected, with sellers keen to see price markdowns for later selling of July cargoes to be continued into August. But as China draws down stocks of Iranian crude it bought in bulk in April ahead of U.S. sanctions, traders say Angola might be sought after especially as new commercial tanks are expected to come online very soon.

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