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

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    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.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.