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Ethiopian Airlines denies it tampered with flight records after crash

Ethiopian Airlines on Wednesday denied whistleblower accusations that it tampered with the maintenance records of the Boeing 737 MAX jet

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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.

Read Also: Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 jet makes emergency landing in Dakar

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.

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Zimbabweans lament after price of bread rises by 60% overnight

Bakers said they were forced to hike their prices due to rising production costs

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Zimbabweans lament after price of bread rises by 60% overnight

The price of bread shot up 60 per cent overnight in Zimbabwe, in the latest blow for a population already struggling with spiralling living costs.

Zimbabweans can barely keep pace with the price rises that have rekindled fears of hyperinflation which reached 500 billion per cent a decade ago and forced the country to trash its own currency.

Already, many families live on one meal a day, with the country in the grip of a major downturn that has provoked biting shortages of basics such as fuel and medicine.

Bakers said they were forced to hike their prices due to rising production costs.

Electricity prices have “gone up significantly, the price of fuel has also been going up weekly, the prices of raw materials have also gone up including the cost of importing wheat,” said Dennis Wala, the president of the National Bakers’ Association.

Electricity is only available for around six hours a day, forcing many bakers to use generators to run their ovens.

“The bread manufacturer is at the end of the value chain and we have to factor in all these costs, but we don’t prescribe prices to our members,” Wala told reporters.

The price of a loaf of bread soared to 15 Zimbabwe dollars (around US$1) on Wednesday from nine dollars the previous day, according to a correspondent.

Bread is the second most important staple in the country after a thick cornmeal porridge known in the local Shona language as “sadza”.

After decades of mismanagement under former President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe reached absurd levels of hyperinflation in 2008-2009 when the central bank started printing money.

Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa has failed to stop the latest inflation surge, last week begging for patience to bring the economy back from the “dead”.

But the economy is near breaking point.

Hundreds of thousands of government workers said this week they could no longer afford to report for duty as their wages had been rendered almost worthless.

Last week, the authorities quadrupled the price of electricity — which is already in short supply after a 400 per cent hike in August.

Earlier this month, the price of fuel rose more than 25 per cent, the latest in series of regular increases.

The official inflation rate was 290 per cent last month, but economists estimate it is at least double that figure.

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Nigeria to sign military cooperation deal with Russia

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari is due to meet Putin on the sidelines of a Russia-Africa summit in Sochi

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Nigeria to sign military cooperation deal with Russia

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari hopes to sign a military-technical cooperation deal with Russia at talks with President Vladimir Putin this month that will help it fight Boko Haram militants.

The Nigerian leader is due to meet Putin on the sidelines of a Russia-Africa summit in the Black Sea city of Sochi amid a push by Moscow to expand its influence in Africa.

“We’re sure that with Russian help we’ll manage to crush Boko Haram, given Russia’s experience combating Islamic State in Syria,” Nigerian envoy, Steve Ugbah said in an interview with Russia’s RIA news agency, adding that Nigeria was interested in purchasing Russian helicopters, planes, tanks and other military equipment.

Ugbah says a military-technical cooperation deal between Russia and Nigeria had already been drafted and that it is awaiting finalisation. 

“We hope President Buhari can take the talks to their logical end. The agreement will open new possibilities in such areas as the supply of military equipment and training for specialists,” he adds.

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Nigeria, Cameroon to plan Cocoa price cartel

The plan suggested by Nigeria is part of a trend by cocoa growers in West Africa and Latin America

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Nigeria, Cameroon to plan Cocoa price cartel

Nigeria aims to team up with Cameroon to agree on a premium for its cocoa with buyers, after the world’s top growers, Ivory Coast and Ghana set a price floor for the crop.

The plan suggested by Nigeria, the world’s fourth-largest cocoa producer, is part of a trend which has seen growers in West Africa and Latin America seek to influence prices in the global market.

The move follows Ghana and Ivory Coast’s union in July, which set the price for a ton of cocoa from their countries at $2,600 plus a $400 premium described as “living income differential”.

READ: Cocoa industry stakeholders accept Ghana, Ivory Coast price

Both countries produced 60 per cent of the world’s cocoa in 2018.

Vice President of the World Cocoa Producers Organisation, Sayina Riman says discussions will be held with the private sector and the Nigerian Government before formal talks are held with Cameroon.  

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