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Uganda arrests two Vietnamese suspected of ivory smuggling

The illegal ivory trade is the third most profitable form of trafficking after narcotics and weapons.

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Authorities say they have discovered over 700 pieces of ivory and hundreds of pangolin scales inside hollowed out logs in the Uganda’s capital Kampala. Two Vietnamese men were detained suspected of smuggling.

The illegal cargo was discovered after officers at the Ugandan tax authority (URA) scanned three 20-foot (six-metre) containers carrying timber logs which had crossed the border from South Sudan.

After growing suspicious, a team secretly tailed the cargo to a warehouse in Kampala and made the bust.

“Logs were hollowed out and filled with ivory and pangolin scales then resealed with tons of melted wax to disguise the contraband,” URA spokesman Vincent Seruma said.

“In a single container there were more than 700 pieces of ivory and more than 200 pangolin scales but we expect to recover thousands of scales,” he added. 

The full value of the cargo has yet to be established but the agency estimated at least 325 elephants would have been killed to acquire the ivory.

Seruma said the traffickers were part of a “very dangerous racket” which takes advantage of conflicts in eastern and central Africa to poach endangered species.

The URA said it believed the ivory and pangolin scales had been packed at a smuggling centre in Democratic Republic of Congo.

“These huge consignments often come from DRC or Central African Republic taking advantage of the lawlessness there. The level of smuggling through Uganda is high,” Seruma said.

The URA tweeted that the two men arrested will be charged with failing to declare prohibited items and concealment of goods.

“We believe they planned to bribe their way to their final destination so we are investigating the shipping agent and other contractors,” the agency said.

The illegal ivory trade is the third most profitable form of trafficking after narcotics and weapons. 

Traffic is driven by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks are used in traditional medicine and ornamentation.

Poaching has seen the elephant population fall by 110,000 over the past decade to just 415,000 animals, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

The little-known pangolin is the world’s most trafficked and poached mammal because of the demand for its meat and scales.

The scales are often used in traditional Chinese medicine and its meat is eaten in several countries in Asia and Africa.

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Energy firm plans to invest $25 billion in Mozambique gas project

This is the largest foreign direct investment in the history of our country – President Filipe Nyusi

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Energy firm plans to invest $25 billion in Mozambique gas project
Photo credit: Anadarko Mozambique

Mozambique government on Tuesday announced plans by US energy firm, Anadarko, to invest $25 billion in developing offshore gas reserves in Mozambique.

Anadarko is one of the global companies investing billions of dollars to exploit major gas reserves discovered off Mozambique’s northeastern coast.

“This is the largest foreign direct investment in the history of our country,” President Filipe Nyusi said at a ceremony with Anadarko executives.

The liquefied natural gas project Dolphin Tuna foresees an investment of $25 billion, the energy ministry said in a statement.

Annual production on the project is expected to start in 2024 with an estimated output of 12 million tonnes. 

Gigantic gas reserves were discovered at the beginning of the decade off the northern Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique.

Estimated at 5,000 billion cubic meters, they would make Mozambique a major exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

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Morocco’s sale of 8% stake in Maroc Telecom to inject $920 million into state budget

52.74 million shares, priced at 127 dirhams will be sold as a block order to local institutional investors

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MAROC TELECOM STORE | Maroc Telecom has been sold by the Moroccan government

Morocco says it plans to sell off an 8 percent stake in Maroc Telecom, which will lead to an 8.87 billion dirham boost towards financing the country’s budget. This privatisation programme is aimed at improving state financing according to the Morocco capital market regulator, AMMC.

Another 6 percent stake in the company comprising of 52.74 million shares, priced at 127 dirhams will be sold as a block order to local institutional investors such as retirement funds, insurance companies and banks on June 17, according to the prospectus.

Related: Digital colonialism: The price Africa pays for cheap internet

The remaining 2 percent will be sold on the Casablanca stock exchange in a public offering at a share price of 125 dirhams starting on June 26 and closing on July 5 2019.

The 2 percent stake also includes 2.9 million shares, representing 0.3% of Maroc Telecom’s capital, to be sold to the company’s employees at a share price of 117.7 dirhams, the prospectus showed.

The sale will cut the state’s stake in the company to 22% from the current 30%. Maroc Telecom is listed on both the Casablanca stock exchange and the Euronext exchange in Paris.

Related: Formula One in talks to make African comeback

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Ethiopian Airlines rejects ‘pilot error’ claim by US politician

The 737 MAX 8 is currently grounded worldwide after the March crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302

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CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Tewolde Gebremariam

A US politician who blamed pilot error for contributing to the deadly crash of a Boeing 737 Max flown by Ethiopian Airlines was “seriously misinformed”, the carrier’s boss has said.

Republican Sam Graves told a House of Representatives hearing last month that “facts” in investigations after crashes in both Ethiopia and Indonesia “reveal pilot error as a factor in these tragically fatal accidents”. 

He also said “pilots trained in the United States would have successfully handled the situation” in both incidents.

But in a BBC interview aired Monday, Ethiopian Airlines chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam said criticisms of his crew’s actions were “seriously misinformed”, and that Graves did not “have the facts in his hands”.

“People who’ve made those comments should ask themselves, ‘Why on earth have they grounded 380 airplanes over the world?’ The facts speak for themselves,” he said. 

The 737 MAX 8 is currently grounded worldwide after the March crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which killed all 157 people onboard and drew scrutiny to the new Boeing model’s anti-stall system.

Pilots were already worried about the safety of the model following the October 2018 crash in Indonesia of a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 that killed 189 people.

Boeing is working to submit a modified version of the aircraft’s software and hopes to get the approval of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and its counterparts throughout the world.

But aviation regulators meeting last month were unable to determine when the popular jet might again be allowed to fly, causing costly headaches for airlines worldwide.

Revelations of close ties between Boeing and the FAA in testing the MAX led to a crisis of confidence among the public and airline pilots, as well as some of the other agencies that regulate civil aviation.

“We have work to do to win and regain the trust of the public,” Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg conceded at the Paris Air Show on Sunday.

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