News / Africa

    Kenya Losing Millions as Volcano Grounds Flights

    Workers push cart loaded with discarded fresh roses at a flower exporter's farm in Naivasha, 19 Apr 2010
    Workers push cart loaded with discarded fresh roses at a flower exporter's farm in Naivasha, 19 Apr 2010
    Michael Onyiego

    As an erupting volcano in southeastern Iceland sprays a cloud of ash over much of northern Europe, its economic impact is being felt as far south as Kenya.

    As airplanes sit idle in Nairobi, Kenya's farmers are scrambling to save the thousands of tons of produce in danger of perishing if they do not reach their destination shortly.

    The volcanic ash cloud that has stranded millions of passengers in airports across the world, is also stranding the Kenyan produce bound for European markets.

    Europe is the most important destination for Kenyan exports.  Around 1,000 tons of Kenyan produce and flowers are sent to Europe daily, and the continent accounts for nearly 82 percent of the industries' total exports, but without airplanes to ship the cargo, the perishable goods simply cannot reach the markets.

    From last Thursday to Sunday, not one plane left Kenya for Europe, leaving cold storage facilities at Nairobi's international airport full and forcing many local farmers to begin throwing away their crops.  The farmers are losing an estimated $3 million per day, and many have had to lay off employees in anticipation of further losses.

    Despite the flight ban, which remains over much of northern Europe, Kenyan exporters are now finding ways to get their products to the market.  According to the Chief Executive of the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya, Stephen Mbithi, a single cargo plane carrying 100 tons of Kenyan produce flew from Nairobi to southern Spain, which has not been affected by the ash.

    The airplane only carried about 10 percent of Kenya's daily crop, but more shipments are expected, and growers hope to export at regular levels by the end of the week.  But even if Kenya returns to normal export levels, shipping overland from southern Spain will mean a 60 percent drop in profits.  

    And according to Mbithi, the reopening of export to Europe could lead to a drop in price due to the backlog.

    "Even if all the flights come back, say tomorrow, and then we fly everything in that means we will suddenly oversupply, because we will be trying to supply three, four days of harvest," he said.  "We think that it is possible that you are looking at about a 15 percent, 20 percent drop in price if that was to happen.  We basically are telling everybody: we might as well write off the fact that we have lost $12 million in the last four days," said Mbithi.

    Kenya's new route into Europe promises to alleviate some of the losses experienced by the country, but it is uncertain how long it will last.

    There is no way of knowing if or when the volcano will stop erupting, and southern Spain could find itself under the same restrictions as its northern neighbors.

    The eruption of Iceland's volcano has affected more than just produce.  Kenya's main airline, Kenya Airways, has reported losses of almost $4 million since Thursday, and the eruption has reportedly cost the airline industry worldwide nearly $200 million daily.

    European flight operators are pressing air safety authorities to ease the ban.  Many airlines have conducted test flights to demonstrate the ability of their aircraft to function, despite the cloud of ash.  But the airspace over many of Europe's transportation hubs, including France, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands, remains closed.

    You May Like

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora