Ethiopian Airlines on Wednesday denied whistleblower accusations that it tampered with the maintenance records of the Boeing 737 MAX jet which crashed in March, killing all 157 people on board.
The accident, in which the plane nose-dived into a field outside Addis Ababa, led to the six-month grounding of the aircraft model as numerous reports faulted an automated control system which pushed the nose of the jet sharply downward.
The same system error was blamed for the crash of an Indonesian Lion Air plane in October last year which killed 189 people.
However Ethiopia Airline’s former chief engineer Yonas Yeshanew — who is seeking asylum in the United States — highlighted dubious maintenance practices and corruption at the fast-growing airline, in an article carried by the Associated Press news agency.
According to the AP, Yonas said someone from the airline had entered the maintenance record system after the crash. He said he did not know if anything was altered, but referred to a history at the company of falsifying records and signing off on dodgy maintenance and repair jobs.
Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement emailed to AFP that directly after the crash “all relevant hard copy maintenance records of the aircraft involved in the accident” were sealed, stored in a secure place and delivered to investigators.
“All maintenance activities done and pilot remarks reported on the aircraft before the accident are recorded on hard copy documents. Hard copies are the official records of aircraft. The allegation that pilot and technicians’ notes were changed is completely false,” the airline said.
The airline has presented Yonas as a “disgruntled employee”, while he told AP he fled the country after being arrested and interrogated for talking to journalists about his concerns following the crash.
Ethiopian Airlines is the biggest carrier in Africa and has rapidly expanded, regularly adding new routes to its already busy schedule across the globe.
On Tuesday night Ethiopian Airlines jet made an emergency landing in Dakar with one of its engines on fire, though all 90 passengers and crew were unharmed.
Masiyiwa to Bid for Ethiopian Telecoms License
Zimbabwean Billionaire and founder of Econet Global Ltd, Strive Masiyiwa has disclosed his position on acquiring a telecommunications license in Ethiopia, which is opening up the industry to foreign investment for the first time.
The Horn of African country has announced plans to sell as much as 49% of the state-owned monopoly, Ethiopian Telecommunications Corp and to issue two new spectrum licenses.
Carriers including Orange SA, MTN Group Ltd. and Vodacom Group Ltd. have already shown interest in the country of more than 100 million people, which has a relatively low level of data penetration and internet access.
Econet, through a number of its subsidiaries, is actively developing interests in Ethiopia.
Econet has operations in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Burundi, with investments in Europe and South America.
The government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had scheduled the liberalization of the industry for early this year.
However, it is yet to provide guidance on the exercise, including any limits on foreign ownership.
Nigeria posts highest quarterly GDP growth since recession
Nigeria’s economic growth rose to an annual rate of 2.55% in the three months to the end of December, its highest quarterly growth since a 2016 recession.
Africa’s largest economy grew 2.27% in 2019 from 1.91% the previous year. The country has struggled to shake off the effects of a 2016 recession that ended the following year and has been grappling with low growth since.
Crude production hovered at around 2 million barrels per day throughout the year.
The non-oil sector, which the government aims to make the main growth sector, rose 2.26% in Q4.
President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged to revive the economy and diversify it away from oil over-dependence but investors have been waiting for policy signals that could lift growth.
Recently, the IMF cut its 2020 growth forecast for the country to 2% from 2.5%, citing lower demand for oil due to fears that the coronavirus outbreak in China will cause a slowdown.
Annual inflation in Nigeria rose for the fifth straight month to 12.13% in January, its highest in nearly two years.
Absa Kenya signs almost 5 million customers on virtual platform
Kenya’s Absa Bank , a part of South Africa’s Absa Group, has signed almost 5 million customers on its virtual banking platform, which it sees as a major driver for future growth, chief executive, Jeremy Awori announced yesterday.
When the bank first launched its virtual savings and loan app known as “Timiza” — Kiswahili for “Achieve” — in March 2018, it attracted 300,000 customers. By the end of the year it had 3 million users, with lending standing at 10 billion Kenyan shillings ($98.91 million).
The bank, formerly known as Barclays Kenya, also has a separate mobile-based banking service to process normal customer transactions such as deposits and withdrawals.
Absa Kenya, posted a pretax profit of 8.18 billion shillings in the first nine months of 2019, compared with 7.72 billion shillings in year-earlier period.
Kenyan lenders have in recent years , turned to technology as they try to counter competition from mobile phone-based financial services such as from telecoms operator Safaricom’s M-Pesa platform, which had 23.6 million users as of last September.
Absa’s virtual banking app’s competitors include those run by KCB Group’s, NCBA Group and Equity Group.
Pressure to use mobile banking services increased further when the government imposed a cap on commercial lending rates in 2016 that ate into bank profit margins forcing banks to search for new ways to grow their businesses. The cap was scrapped at the end of last year.
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