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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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Uganda and Rwanda revisit trade talks

The meeting was aimed at boosting diplomatic relations between the two East African neighbours

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Uganda and Rwanda revisit trade talks

Officials from Uganda and Rwanda on Monday met in Kigali following a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two countries in Angola in August.

The meeting was aimed at boosting diplomatic relations between the two East African neighbours.

The two sides were seen to be at loggerheads for some time earlier this year, culminating in the closure of their borders.

The August MoU included agreements on regional co-operation and security, setting the pace for the improvement of political and trade relations between Uganda and Rwanda.

The two leaders also agreed to “resume as soon as possible the cross-border activities between both countries, including the movement of persons and goods, for the development and improvement of the lives of their population”.

The Ugandan delegation is led by Foreign Affairs minister, Sam Kutesa while his counterpart in Rwanda spearheads the opposite delegation.

Angola and DR Congo played a key role in bringing the Ugandan and Rwandan sides to the negotiating table.

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Egypt resumes Nile Dam talks with Ethiopia, Sudan

Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry has expressed unease in recent days over delays in negotiations

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Egypt resumes Nile Dam talks with Ethiopia, Sudan

Egypt says Ethiopia has “summarily rejected” its plan for key aspects of operating a giant dam. The country is building on the Nile, while dismissing Ethiopia’s own proposal as “unfair and inequitable”.

The comments, made in a note circulated to diplomats last week, show the gap between the two countries on a project seen as an existential threat by Egypt, which gets around 90% of its freshwater from the Nile. 

The note distributed by the Egyptian foreign ministry, a copy of which was seen by reporters, points to key differences over the annual flow of water that should be guaranteed to Egypt and how to manage flows during droughts. 

It comes as Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan met on Sunday and Monday for their first talks over the hydroelectric dam in more than a year. A spokesperson at Ethiopia’s foreign ministry, Nebiat Getachew, said on Monday the meeting had so far produced no agreements or disagreements, and gave no immediate response to the Egyptian claims. 

Egyptian officials were not immediately available for comment, but after the talks, an Egyptian water ministry statement carried by local media said the meeting had been limited to procedural, rather than substantive issues. 

Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry has expressed unease in recent days over delays in negotiations. 

The $4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) was announced in 2011 and is designed to be the centrepiece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter, generating more than 6,000 megawatts. 

In January, Ethiopia’s water and energy minister said that following construction delays, the dam would start production by the end of 2020 and be fully operational by 2022.

The dam promises economic benefits for Ethiopia and Sudan, but Egypt fears it will restrict already stretched supplies from the Nile, which it uses for drinking water, agriculture and industry.

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Tanzanian mining firms to pay royalty fees on mineral production

The Tanzania Mining Commission set a deadline of September 15 to enforce the directive

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Tanzanian mining firms to pay royalty fees on mineral production

Mining companies in Tanzania risk being denied transport permits to ferry their products if they have not adhered to section 18 of the country’s Mining Act of 2010 (and revised in 2017), which requires all producers pay royalty fees on the gross value of minerals produced.

The Tanzania Mining Commission set a deadline of September 15 to enforce the directive.

The issue came up when Tancoal Energy Ltd. claimed that the law was punitive and would make its products expensive. However, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Minerals, Simon Msanjila, says that the royalty fees have been in effect since 2010 and other companies producing coal and other minerals were already applying it.

“Tancoal have been avoiding paying the fees all these years, despite expanding their coal exports portfolio to include clients outside the country,” said Prof Msanjila. He further added that “it’s about time they start paying as well.”

The law requires every authorised miner in Tanzania to pay royalty fees based on the gross value of their produce. The gross value is the market value of the minerals at the point of refining or sale.

Violation of the directive results in up to two years imprisonment, maximum Tsh10 million fine in the case of an individual, or Tsh50 million fine for a corporate.

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