Business Briefs

Telkom Kenya to be privatised:  Telkom SA is keen to take a stake in Telkom Kenya if Kenya implements a retrenchment program for which funding has been pledged by the World Bank. Telkom must go digital, and become a leaner profit-making institution before it can be privatised – and at present it can’t compete profitably in an open market while 60% of it’s budget is spent on salaries for its 20,000 workers. James Rege, the PS for Information confirmed that talks have taken place and a consultant will soon be hired to implement the scheme.

Lost opportunity? However Telkom is unlikely to be offered as much as the 380 million shillings it was offered by Mount Kenya Communications/Econet in 2001.

The February African Business also has lengthy stories on drug trafficking in Malindi/Mombasa and small-scale gold mining in Kakamega.

Fibre Optic Nairobi:  As part of the first phase of a national fibre optic backbone, Kenya Data Networks (KDN) is installing a metropolitan fibre ring around Nairobi. They put a notice in the papers indicating that their crews around Upper Hill, Community, Westlands and the CBD may disrupt traffic, but they expect to have completed by March. Also, while 10 applicants applied to compete with Jambonet, only two, KDN and Jamii Telcom, have paid the licence.

Virgin Nigeria: UK billionaire Richard Branson recently launched Virgin Nigeria airline that will replace Nigeria’s national carrier, which ceased operations a few years ago. Virgin owns 49% of the airline, and it will operate domestic, regional and international flights to the Far East. Nigerian investors own 51%, and the airline enjoys the support of the Nigerian Government and public, so far. However an application to fly the Lagos-New York was turned down by American authorities, because of Virgin’s opposition to allowing more American flights to Britain’s Heathrow. Meanwhile, Continental Airlines (American) is due to begin flights to Lagos in April.

Ethiopian vs. Kenyan airlines: Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways (KQ) nemesis has placed an order for 10 Boeing 7E7 Dreamliners, a concept jet that will be created in the next few years. The ‘order’ worth 1.3 billion, comes as KQ has bet its future on the tried and tested 777 – Kenya was the first African country to fly the aircraft, and Ethiopian have since ordered some, and have now upped the stakes. Will KQ, who also have a mostly Boeing fleet follow suit? Ethiopian also has a code-share agreement with South African Airways, KQ’s other major business rival.