Consumer Diaries

Here’s a good website for consumers in Zambia having a hard time at the moment! Consumer Diaries, written by Zambian consumers for Zambian consumers. The latest post involves the suspension of the air service permit for Zambezi Airlines by government – no great surprise there – they’ve been in a shambles for weeks with delayed and cancelled flights. Yesterday there were about 15 stranded travellers at Harry M Nkumbula International Airport in Livingstone, negotiating seats on other airlines flying to South Africa.
We hope Consumer Diaries will soon turn their attention to Zambia Breweries and the constant annual shortages of beer and soft drinks in Livingstone and other parts of Zambia through October and November – not alright in the nominated (should that be nominal?) ‘tourist capital’.
And what about Zesco? Most Zambian consumers thought that one of the first impacts of the new government would be restoration of constant power supplies – not so – even though the President did fire the Zesco MD nothing has changed there! Just as well we have a good stand by generator at Chanters Lodge!

“The Consumer Diaries is a Zambian consumer’s mouthpiece written strictly by consumers for other consumers. It contains a compilation of reviews and comparisons of consumer products and services based on reporting and results from consumers themselves. This is done in order to help people have an opportunity to rate product/service experiences that they have had, and also to investigate new products or services in order to make informed decisions.”

Wish them the best of luck!

The picture? A bottle of Zambia’s great Mosi beer – currently unavailable from distributors in Livingstone, Zambia.


Emirates To Fly To Zambia!


“Emirates is launching flights to two new African destinations from February next year. The airline will be offering five flights per week from Dubai to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, and Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, from 1st February 2012.

Travellers visiting Zambia or Zimbabwe with Emirates will be within easy reach of Victoria Falls- the largest waterfall in the world. Labelled a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Victoria Falls is 1.7km wide and cascades over 100 metres. Both destinations also have world-class national safari parks for any travellers wishing to observe some African wildlife.

Passengers travelling with Emirates to Zambia and Zimbabwe will be able to experience Emirates’ luxurious First and Business Class cabins. The A330-200 operating the route has a three-class configuration with 12 First Class seats, 42 Business Class seats and 183 Economy seats. Guests in all classes of travel will enjoy meals prepared by gourmet chefs, as well as hundreds of channels of entertainment and the facility to send and receive emails and text messages.

“Emirates has long understood the enormous potential of Africa, which today is one of the fastest-expanding economic regions of the world, benefitting from a combined market of over one billion people, rising consumer demand and an abundance of natural resources,” said His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group.

“Zambia and Zimbabwe will be our 20th and 21st African destinations and their addition to our global network will enable us to provide new flexibility and choice for customers, help to grow trade routes and create important new inbound and outbound markets for tourism,” added His Highness.”

Now, all we need is a direct flight from Europe to Livingstone. Come on!



Loved this when I found it on Filtre

“In Zambia, bicycles grow on trees, or rather bamboo, the primary building material for many Zambikes. Groves of it grow outside the company’s factory, which is run by two Zambians and two Americans on a quest to build a local bike for Africans, and employ the “uneducated and underprivileged” to make them for the rest of the world.

So far, Zambike has cranked out at least 8,000 metal bicycles and 900 bicycle ambulances and cargo carts in Southern Africa; they’ve sold 200 bamboo bicycle frames worldwide. The company’s goal, besides benefiting communities around it, is to sell affordable, effective transportation throughout Zambia, a country where the average life expectancy is 47 years old, and infant mortality approaches one in 10 births. The for-profit firm was founded in a partnership with U.S. nonprofit Akerfa, and has employed more than 100 people, says Zambikes co-founder Vaughn Spethmann.

“Our products are saving and changing lives,” said Spethmann during an interview with SOCAP Europe. “We are creating opportunity and employment. “Our goal of having Zambikes be run by Zambian nationals will ensure that Zambikes will be a catalyst for change for decades to come.”

The design is relatively straightforward, though labor intensive. Three-year-old bamboo is cut, preserved, and cured for several months before being cut to size. The frame is then bound with wood glue and plant fiber cords soaked in epoxy, and affixed to the metal components. The whole process takes as long as a week, but produces a 95% bamboo bike that is “one of the classiest, comfortable rides in the bike industry” with almost “magical” vibration absorption, says the company. Models have fetched about $900 abroad, and a messenger bike version is now available for export.



“What’s your real name?” I asked our most recent guest (pictured above) on The Chanters Lodge Experience with The Milli Jam Ingredient featuring George Soulchild, our regular Sunday night radio programme airing from 20.30-21.30 hrs on Zambezi Radio 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s most popular local radio station. “Just call me Skoolboy” he replied. “I really need to know your name” I persisted. “Very well” he said “it’s Gift Zhinga but please don’t mention it on air” – and we didn’t! But we weren’t finished with the matter – “How did you get the name ‘Skoolboy'” Milli Jam asked immediately we started the show. Skoolboy (we won’t use Gift Zhinga here either) explained to listeners that he came from a very poor background. He’d been at secondary school at Linda Secondary School in Livingstone and he’d been forced to drive a taxi at night to raise the money for his schooling, his Clients had christened him ‘Skoolboy’ – though it was his granny who’d first given him the name. And it stuck!

Skoolboy was good value on the show. He contacted St Michael and Dandy Krazy, two local music stars for live phone interviews during the programme and we spoke to both of them about an upcoming European tour for Zambian musicians which Skoolboy is trying to arrange. He splits his time between The University of The Hague where he’s studying for a degree in international law and the USA, where he is trying to promote the activities of Dutch Water Dreams, a company with whom he’s involved. He’s certainly been very active since his days of taxi driving at night and trying to stay awake for Grade 12 lessons during the day! Milimo asked him if he’d met Naomi Campbell when he was watching the Charles Taylor trial at the International Court in The Hague, but oh! He had not! “She was well protected” he said.

The music on the show was great. We opened with ‘Up’ – the latest from Justin Bieber featuring Chris Brown. The track went back to back with ‘Never Forget You’, an interesting co-operation between Lupe Fiasco and John Legend. George featured Hamooba with ‘Song Of The Year’ and K’Millian’s ‘Nizakukonda’ on our local music spot, while Milimo played the Dixie Chicks ‘Wide Open Spaces’ back to back with ‘Take Me Away’ by Keisha Cole.

We told the public how to find Lodgeblog and gave them some information about the stories that had featured on the blog the previous week, and as usual we gave listeners to the show news of the charts – UK and USA Pop and USA Country – concentrating on the top 3 in each case. After this spot we played Luke Bryan’s ‘Someone Else Is Calling You Baby’ – the current number one on the US Top 100 Billboard Country! Right up to date on the ‘The Experience’!

Skoolboy revealed that he’s still single (“careful” I cautioned “we have a lot of female listeners and you’ll be getting them worked up!”) He looks forward to being married and having children. He dreams of becoming a fully fledged international lawyer and running his own big enterprise. Seeing what’s he’s achieved so far, we wouldn’t bet against it!


Obote Avenue, Livingstone

Wouldn’t it be nice if just a fraction of the World Bank money (below) was spent on Obote Avenue (above), the road to Chanters Lodge from Mosi o Tunya road? But I’m not holding my breath! Luckily only about 750 metres effects us.

The World Bank has released US$75 million to Zambia’s road sector, the first cash injection after the bank and other cooperating partners suspended funding to the sector last year following allegations of corruption. World Bank country manager Kapil Kapoor said in a recent interview that the cooperating partners were satisfied with the measures that had been put together by President Rupiah Banda’s Government to stop corruption.

The donors to the sector last year announced a decision to withhold funding and accused the Road Development Agency of corrupt practices. They cited the auditor general’s report which indicated that the agency had overcommitted the Government to more than K1 trillion. Dr Kapoor said stakeholders engaged in talks with the Government and were satisfied that the sector would perform to their expectation.

He said the Government had worked hard to ensure that all the concerns raised by the donor community were addressed. He said the $75 million was an allocation for this year. He dismissed reports that the World Bank attached rigid and unfriendly conditions to its aid, saying it only insisted that the money it released should be used for intended purposes. Dr Kapoor said the Government had been exemplary in managing the affairs of the nation with sustained economic growth.



Check these pictures supplied by our Guests Des and Ant – intrepid 4×4 explorers with a vehicle supplied by Hemingways, Livingstone. They got stuck in the mud, in the bush, 90 kms west of Zimba, which is 75kms north of Livingstone. They had to walk almost 40 kms out of the bush to get mobile phone contact for a rescue.

Don’t be deceived by the pictures – that mud was apparently knee deep the moment you stepped in it. Hemingways managed to eventually haul them out of there!

Why were they there in the first place? They were looking for an access route into an area designated for their company to plant sugar cane.

Looks like they didn’t find it!!


Airport Security Charge

National Airports in Zambia have introduced an ‘airport security charge’ on departure for all passengers – US$5 per person international and US$3 per person domestic. Please make sure you have the cash available in either US$ or Zambian Kwacha. It is not clear at this stage whether the charge can be included in the cost of your ticket, like the regular departure tax.

The police are now checking underneath vehicles with mirrors as you approach Livingstone Airport. Presumably this irritating new charge is to pay for this service.

Happy New Year!


New Airport For Kasaba Bay

Having spent many wonderful holidays at Kasaba Bay in the 80’s this, from Lusaka Times is excellent news!

“The tarring of an International Airport at Kasaba Bay in the Northern Province is set to be completed in the first quarter of next year. This came to light when Northern Province Minister John Chinyanta visited the tourist resort to check on the progress of the construction works at the Airport site. According to engineers working on the project, about 85 per cent of the works on the runaway have been done.

However, the engineers told the Minister that works on the Airport project may be derailed if the rain pattern continues to be unpredictable in the area. And Mr. Chinyanta has expressed satisfaction with the quality of workmanship by the contractors working on the International Airport at Kasaba Bay. He said it is Government’s desire to see to it that the project is completed on time in order to open up the tourist resort to other investment opportunities.

Mr. Chinyanta further urged the contractors to speed up the construction works of the Airport in order to meet the deadline set for completing the project. So far, the compacting and leveling of the ground at the Airport site is in progress.

Meanwhile, Poweng Construction Company, contracted by Government to electrify Kasaba Bay, has made steady progress in putting up the power-lines. The firm has erected power poles from Mbala to Kasaba Bay in readiness for the electrification of the tourist resort. Once construction works are completed, Kasaby Bay will boost tourism investment in the Northern Tourism Circuit, which includes Northern and Luapula provinces respectively.

Currently, Government is implementing the Kasaba Bay integrated programme involving infrastructure development such as the construction of an International Airport, the grading of access roads and electrification of the tourist resort.”


Southern Belle

Here’s a piece of good news courtesy of Gill Staden’s Livingstone on line.

The US$1 million-plus refurbishment of Protea Hotel’s latest project, the Southern Belle, has been completed. Bookings have now opened for the maiden Zambian voyage of the old steam-style boat, which was an institution in the waters of Lake Kariba on the Zimbabwe side for more than a decade.

Since the completion of her refurbishment, the Southern Belle, operated by Protea Hotels, has undergone lake trials, all of which have proven incredibly successful. The vessel’s first official voyage takes place on 1 December, and bookings have already begun to pour in, says the group.

“The renovation of the Southern Belle has been a lengthy process, and we’re absolutely thrilled that we’ve managed to execute it immaculately. Our first series of lake trials have been a great success, and we simply can’t wait to welcome visitors aboard in December,” said Mark O’Donnell, Chairman of Protea Hotels Zambia.

Renovations to the vessel have been extensive, but all 22 refurbished en-suite cabins have remained sympathetic to the design elements that make up a classic steam boat. Massive interior refurbishments have also taken place. All the original décor and furnishings have been stripped, and the old generators have been replaced with more energy-efficient alternatives, as well as solar energy water heating systems.

The newly completed Southern Belle also features a conference room for up to 40 people, a shop,
restaurant and bar, and a top deck with bar and a swimming pool. All guests will be welcomed aboard the vessel at the newly completed base station, which features a thatched verandah as well as a secure parking facility.

The Southern Belle will operate from the base station in Manchinchi Bay near Siavonga on Lake Kariba. International guests can fly in to Lusaka International Airport. O’Donnell said guests could charter the vessel for one to five nights, depending on group requirements. The Southern Belle would depart from the base station at noon and return at 10h00 on the final day.


Cars and Computers

I liked this one sent me by Judy in Australia

At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated,

‘If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.’

In response to Bill’s comments, General Motors issued a press release stating:

If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics (and I just love this part):

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash……..Twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a manoeuvre such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive – but would run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single ‘This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation’ warning light.

7. The airbag system would ask ‘Are you sure?’ before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

10. You’d have to press the ‘Start’ button to turn the engine off.

PS – I’d like to add that when all else fails, you could call ‘customer service’ in some foreign country and be instructed in some foreign language how to fix your car yourself!

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