The Seychelles Public Utilities Corporation will host a donor conference in January in a bid to mobilise funds for sewage projects.

The corporation's chief executive told SNA that the company needs approximately $60 million to implement these projects. 

Philippe Morin said that originally the conference was being planned for November this year.

“Unfortunately some of these agencies could not make it so we decided to postpone the donor conference to January when we hope most of them can come.”

Morin said that the conference is crucial now that Seychelles has a Sanitation Master Plan in addition to other sewage projects such as the Greater Victoria and the east coast sewage projects.

“The east coast project is one which will cover Pointe Au Sel all the way down to Brillant. We have conducted studies and had public consultations. We now have concepts and other relevant information.”

Morin adds that “we also have an idea of the cost as well," but for now it's only an estimate.

Once implemented customers on the eastern coast of Mahe will be connected to the Providence wastewater treatment plant.

“We hope through the conference to raise loans for the actual implementation. The amount we need is substantial and we know we will not raise the whole amount but we hope to do it in phases,” said Morin.

Morin explained that the corporation is already using its own funds to get final designs for other areas.

The replacement of main trunk lines and other sewerage pipes is also currently being done mostly in Victoria where these are very old. The company is also renovating some of its pumping stations.

The main objective of the Seychelles Integrated and Comprehensive Sanitation Master Plan is to develop an integrated, comprehensive and innovative sanitation solution for Mahé, Praslin and La Digue – the three main islands of the Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.

The plan is also taking into consideration the principles of the Integrated Urban Water Management. This approach in the sanitation master plan study will provide the linkages with other sectors such as water, electricity, waste and drainage to a feasible level.

The renovation of the Providence wastewater treatment plant and some of its sewage pumping stations is expected to start early next year. This project along with the rising mains in the Greater Victoria area is being implemented under the Project Neptune which is a revitalisation programme as per the Seychelles Water Development Plan.  

Seychelles Airlines - a local private airline - is re-examining its business strategies and hope to kick off operations late next year, said the company’s deputy chief executive on Wednesday. 

The airline is submitting revised documents to the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) for approval.

Seychelles Airlines was to start operations in 2013 with two Boeings 767 but is now looking at the possibility of leasing other planes. 

The airline is looking at the possibility of flying to Paris, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, Mauritius, and Singapore.

“When deciding which route to fly, a lot of research has to be done. You need to know how many people are travelling from which country, how they are getting here and which carrier they are using among others,” said Robert Marie, the deputy chief executive.

During the early stages of the company’s formation, the partners – Robert Marie, Ahmed Afif and Phillip Boule – had decided to fly to European countries.

“In 2013, [very few airlines] were doing direct long haul between Seychelles and Europe and we decided that is what we are going to do,” said Marie, a former Air Seychelles pilot.

Robert Marie -- the deputy chief executive of the Seychelles Airlines.(Robert Marie) Photo License: CC-BY

The company could not go further when they were told by the Registrar that the airline could not use the name ‘Seychelles Airlines’ as it resembled the national carrier’s name – ‘Air Seychelles’.

The Registrar General, Wendy Pierre, told SNA that “the initial decision not to register the name was taken by the Registrar of Companies.”

“Registrar makes their decisions taking into consideration the law and other factors. It does happen that we have to liaise with other authorities [when making such considerations],” said Pierre.

Marie said that at this point “we could have changed the name but I didn't think it would have made any difference - we would still have met objections as an airline by certain people. That is when we decided to take the case to court and everything dragged for two years.”

In 2015, parent company Intershore Aviation won its court case when the judge ruled that there is nothing wrong in using the name ‘Seychelles Airlines’.

Since the company announced its formation, Marie said that there are people who have sent them their CVs. The company will be employing around 150 local and foreign staffs, the bulk of which will be needed in flights operation.

“Foreigners will be needed in the company, especially in the 10 to 15 key positions where, under the law, high qualifications are needed and unfortunately there isn't any Seychellois who meets the requirement,” said Marie.

The plan is to have a Seychellois attached to each foreigner, as the airline aims at “having an airline that will be purely operated by Seychellois.” Seychelles Airlines forecast that within six to seven years this can be attained.

Talking about the tough competition, Marie said that aviation is a cruel industry and that they are aware of the tricks that other airlines might come with, in response to them starting operations. 

A second waterside community boasting a superyacht marina to provide more recreational facilities will be built starting next year on the reclaimed island of Ile Aurore, a top official said.

The waterside community will include a hotel, schools, a waterfront beach, around 15,000 homes, a community hub and a network of green spaces. The island already has a golf course.

Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, relies largely on tourism, and the chief executive of the Seychelles Planning Authority, Joseph Francois, said that the waterside community will provide additional entertainment for holidaymakers. 

“Despite being a boat activities’ community, the area will contain places to dine and shop,” said Francois. He added that the facilities will also cater for locals who are developing a growing interest in marine related activities.

Aside from recreational activities and building infrastructures, the development of Ile Aurore will include retaining the existing coral reef. Artificial reefs will also be added to provide additional resilience and improved ecological value.

The marina is part of the development of Ile Aurore, a man-made island in the north of Mahe. (Seychelles Nation)  Photo License: CC-BY

The marina is part of the development activities outlined for the island, located off the northeastern coast of Mahe, the main island.

The marina will be the second after Eden Island, which is also a reclaimed land on the eastern coast of Mahe, the main island. It was built to accommodate high-priced privately-owned yachts and businesses involved in boat chartering. 

The chief executive said that in addition to the superyacht marina on Ile Aurore, there are plans to build another in the Victoria waterfront project.

Francois said the project will be done in phases and since it is still under discussion the total cost is yet to be determined. The project will be funded partly by the government and also open to investors.   

Wednesday, 29 November 2017 00:00

Seychelles Petroleum Company pays off loan

The Seychelles Petroleum Company (SEYPEC) is expected to see an increase in cashflow now that the company has paid off a loan taken from a German Bank for its fleet of six oil tankers.

To start off the project of building the tankers, SEYPEC borrowed $158 million from KFW bank, the German government-owned development bank which covered over 50 percent of the money needed.

The chief executive of the company, Conrad Benoiton, told SNA that “having a fleet that we can call our own is a massive plus.”

“The fleet should bring between $6 million to $10 million extra cash every year, a range that depends on the volatility of the charter business and the oil industry. At the moment we are forecasting around $8.5 million,” said Benoiton.

Having settled the loans also means that the company now has a “zero debt exposure which is critical when dealing with major oil suppliers and brokers,” Benoiton told SNA.

The chief executive said that the company took the right decision 16 years ago to diversify its capital financial baseline.

“Today it (SEYPEC) has an asset worth over $100 million with a strengthened balance sheet and when we go out to negotiate our fuel pricing every three years we can dictate our terms,” he added.

Another asset of the company is their mariners. Benoiton explained that when clients,  big oil majors and brokers want to charter a fleet, they look at the crew matrix, their experience and where they were trained among other criteria.

Today, the six tankers -- Seychelles PrideSeychelles PioneerSeychelles ProgressSeychelles PreludeSeychelles Patriot and Seychelles Paradise -- are operating with 168 Seychellois mariners on board. This at times represents up to 60 percent of the crew on the fleet.

The chief executive said that as mariners need to acquire sea time to ensure their career growth, with only five tankers it would have taken eight more years for the current second officers to become chief engineers.

“By having more vessels, we have shortened that period and so far the SEYPEC fleet has an average of 97 percent charter,” said Benoiton. He added that the fleet has three Seychellois masters with six potential ones coming up.

Seychelles Paradise also known as the 'green tanker -- is the smallest of the six tankers. (SEYPEC) Photo License: CC-BY

Most SEYPEC tankers, apart from Seychelles Paradise, call upon ports in America, Canada, and South Africa. The bulk of their business is transporting Russian fuel into European ports such as Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, and the UK down to Italy.

“Operating in these areas benefit us, as our concentration of vessel is closer to our logistical oversight. This means that it is easier to conduct crew rotation as well as drydocking, maintenance and supplies,” said Benoiton.

At the moment none of the Seychelles owned tankers are supplying the island nation with fuel as the tankers are too big. TOTSA is responsible for supplying Seychelles with fuel.

Benoiton told SNA that investing into another tanker is a decision that needs to be taken by the board member of the company in consultation with the government. Before any move is made, risk factors and assessments need to be run.

A young Seychellois chef feels confident as he readies for his participation in the Young Chef Olympiad competition that will take place next year in India.

The Young Chef Olympiad is a competition that creates an international platform for the interaction of young professional culinary talent from around the world. The fourth edition of the Olympiad will be taking place between January 28 and February 2, across four Indian cities. Competitors will take part from 50 countries.

Representing Seychelles is Emmanuel Lesperance, a first-year food preparation student from the Seychelles Tourism Academy.

“I feel proud and excited to be representing Seychelles, but at the same time, I am feeling a little anxious,” said Lesperance.

Lesperance, 17, was the winner of the internal culinary competition for the culinary students of the academy held earlier this year.  A total of 18 students took part.

Lesperance recently met with the tourism minister, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, who said that the competition will further strengthen the bilateral relation between Seychelles and India. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

“I think that it was my creativity and determination that allowed me to come in first place. Preparing my dish, I tried my best to come up with and create something new,” said Lesperance.

Organised by the Indian Ministry of Tourism and the International Institute for Hotel Management, the Olympiad comprises of three rounds. Round one, which will take place in Delhi, Bangalore and Pune, will test the participants’ basic skills of following a recipe and presenting.

“You just have to apply everything and will be judged on how that has been done. It is logical that you will have added a personal touch to it though,” said Jamie Sanders, the mentor of Lesperance. He will be accompanying the student to India.

The second round, to take place in Kolkata, will test their creativity, innovation and cooking techniques. They will have to prepare a three-course vegetarian and vegan lunch, with ingredients that are already known to the competitors.

The fourth edition of the Olympiad will be taking place between January 28 and February 2, across four Indian cities (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

Kolkata will also host the final where the competitors with the 10 best aggregated scores will go head to head for first place.

The 17-year-old said that though he hasn’t started preparations with his mentors yet, he is already thinking of combinations that he can use.

“It will most probably be international dishes as the ingredients that will be given to us will cater for that and not local dishes,” said Lesperance.

Two other Seychellois chefs as well as the International Sales and Promotion Company (ISPC) - a Belgian company based in Seychelles - will be helping Lesperance get ready for the competition. 

Lesperance recently met with the 115-island archipelago’s tourism minister, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, who said that the competition will further strengthen the bilateral relation between Seychelles and India.

“It is always good when competency and talents get rewarded. I am happy that the academy has found it fit to take part in this Olympiad and let us hope that we can take part every year,” the minister said.

He also  presented Lesperance with a recipe book called “Fish and Seafood – Recipes of the Seychelles Island”. Flavien Joubert is the author of the book that will be launched soon.

The student along with his mentor and an official from the tourism academy, Murla Gabriel, will leave the country on January 26 and return on February 3.

Monday, 27 November 2017 00:00

5 cool things to see

Seychelles remains one of the most enchanting places to visit in the world. The archipelago in the western Indian Ocean is seen as a tropical paradise for visitors. Aside from the azure-coloured sea and powder white beaches, there other cool things to see in the island nation.

SNA gives you 5 cool things you can see in Seychelles


There are flying foxes

With a fox-like appearance the Seychelles fruit bat or Seychelles flying fox is found on the granitic islands of Seychelles. It is more common on Silhouette, the third largest granitic islands. No need to worry about getting close to them, they only feed on fruits.

(Wagon16, Flickr) Photo License: CC-BY


See the world’s biggest nut

The coco de mer -- the biggest nut in the world -- grows naturally on the second largest island of Praslin in the Vallee de Mai which is still a pristine forest and one of the Seychelles’ world heritage sites. 

(Romano Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY


The second largest atoll in the world

The Aldabra atoll is one of the world's most wild and remote regions where you can see huge tortoises and black-tipped sharks. And you can have a dip in the lagoon so large it can fit the whole of the main island Mahe. As an added bonus it’s another Seychelles’ world heritage site.  

(Wkipedia) Photo License: CC-BY


A jellyfish on land? No! Simply a plant

As its name indicates, the plant has fruits with jellyfish-like shapes. It can be found at  four locations on Mahe, the main island and all going uphill -- Bernica, Mont Sebert, Mont Copolia and Mont Jasmin. Are you up for a climb?

(Christopher Kaiser-Bunbury) Photo License: CC-BY


Gazing at the sunset

Tired of the hustle and bustle of your daily life? Well, relax while watching the sunset possible all year round as long as the weather is fine. The best place to do it is in the north of Mahe, the main island, and in a few spots on the other islands. The popular beach of Beau Vallon gives you a vantage point -- plus there are various tourism establishments in the vicinity where you can quench your thirst afterwards.

(Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY
Sunday, 19 November 2017 00:00

Cannonball tree attracts curious onlookers

The cannonball tree -- a plant species that has fascinated writers and botanists -- can be found in Seychelles at the Botanical Gardens and a Hilton property. But beware: it has the name cannonball tree for a reason.

The fruits of the cannonball tree are large, round and heavy like their namesakes. When they fall they make a loud, explosive sound. This is why the species is not planted near footpaths or main roads, said Steen Hansen, a Denmark national living in Seychelles since 2005.

“Although it is an attraction, naturally these quirky trees are not planted near footpaths – as a falling one can cause serious injury to your head,” said Hansen, who has a master's degree in biology and a bachelor's degree in geography and geology.

Visitors to Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, are also fascinated by the cannonball tree which can be found in the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens and at the Hilton Seychelles Northolme hotel.

“They take pictures of the flowers and they always ask if the fruit is edible,” said Clara Lesperance, the front office supervisor at the Hilton Seychelles Northolme, a resort in the north of the main island Mahe where the cannonball tree can be found.

The cannonball tree is cultivated in many countries for its beautiful and scented flowers and interesting fruits. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

In the Botanical Gardens, the tree is not only an attraction for visitors but also provides food for the Seychelles fruit bats that feed on the petals of the red flowers with tentacles looking like sea anemones.   

Another attractive trait of the species is that the fruits grow straight on the trunk instead of from branches.

The cannonball is a native to the rainforest of central and southern America and cultivated in many other countries for its beautiful and scented flowers and interesting fruits.

“The flowers themselves are strongly scented, especially at night and in the early morning,” said Hansen. He added that “the cannonball tree might take up to a year or more too mature, and impressively contains more than 550 seeds.”

Cannonball tree is not only ornamental but also has healing properties. Hansen, who has also written scientific and popular science-related articles, said that the tree has medicinal uses. 

Native Amazonians use extracts of several parts of the tree to treat hypertension, tumours, pain and inflammation. It has also been used to treat the common cold, stomachache, skin conditions and wounds, malaria and toothache by chewing the leaves,” said Hansen.

A new family hospital in Seychelles specialising in services for children and women officially opened on Thursday.

The facility is on Perseverance, a reclaimed island on the outskirts of the Seychelles’ capital Victoria, and is already receiving patients. 

The Seychelles Family Hospital has 30 inpatient beds, four Intensive Care Unitbeds and four operating theatre beds. It also has modern equipment to cater for children with hearing difficulties. The hospital will handle all stages of maternity cases.

At the official opening, Minister of Health Jean-Paul Adam said, “This new hospital is a state-of-the art facility. It has been built using an innovative modular concept.”

The Seychelles Family Hospital was officially opened by President Danny Faure. (Louis Toussaint, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

“We will be offering more services at the hospital, helping to decongest the main hospital at Mont Fleuri,” added the minister.

The new hospital is temporarily housing patients from the female medical ward at the Seychelles Hospitalwhich will soon be undergoing renovation. The ministry also plans on moving English River health centre’s family planning, ante-natal, post-natal and child health services to the new facility. 

A doctor at the new hospital, Micky Monthy, told SNA that it is a big change and they have to adapt to the new facilities as patients are now being admitted into cubicles.

“We have good and modern equipment to help us professionals discharge our role. We also have an intensivist (person specialising in the care of critically ill patients) who will be stationed at the ICU in case of emergencies,” he added. 

Speaking to SNA, Marline Lebon, who is a patient at the hospital, said that since they arrived they are being treated well.

The hospital has already started taking in patients. (Louis Toussaint, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

The hospital will be opened for other services in three weeks but the Ministry is advising patients to keep using other medical facilities available on Mahe the main island.

Construction on the facility sponsored by the Sheikh Kalifah Bin Zayed Al Nayan Foundation took 10 months. The family hospital was handed over to the Ministry of Health on August 9. Patients moved in end of October.

A representative of the Foundation, Ahmed Saeed Alneyadi, said that they are very happy and honoured to donate such modern facility to Seychelles.

He said that the Foundation has agreed to provide the hospital with specialist and help maintain the equipment.

Representatives from Al Salam Bank presented a check of over $37,000 (SCR 500,000) to President Danny Faure of Seychelles on Tuesday for a donation towards the children’s fund.

Al Salam Bank is an Arabic bank based in Bahrain that took over the former Bank of Muscat International Offshore, BMIO, in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, in May last year.

“It is important for Al Salam Bank to serve the community. We chose the children fund as this investment will help in the development of young people in Seychelles,” said Shaikha Hessa Bint Khalifa Al Khalifa, the bank’s chair.

She also added that it is important for the name of Al Salam Bank to be recognised within the community as “community service is a very important part of being in the banking sector.”

During her courtesy call to Faure at State House in Victoria, the capital, the bank’s chair discussed the possibilities of investing in the residential sector of Seychelles.

Shaikha Hessa Bint Khalifa Al Khalifa discussed the possibilities of investing in the residential sector of Seychelles in her meeting with the president. (Thomas Meriton, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

“We are hoping that this partnership develops so that we can make investments in Seychelles, especially in the housing sector,” she said.

Speaking to the press in Creole, which she learned from her family's Seychellois nanny, Shaikha Hessa Bint Khalifa Al Khalifa said the bank is ready to start investing immediately and “is waiting for the plans of the president on two projects.”

Further investments can be made in the tourism industry, the main pillar of the island nation’s economy. Commerce is another area of interest.

Talking about Al Salam Bank - Seychelles, Shaikha Hessa Bint Khalifa Al Khalifa said they “hope that the number of local clients will increase and more Seychellois will open an account with [the bank].”

“We are at the forefront of technology and when it comes to customer service, we offer all the products that are available in other banks, such as loans,” she said, adding that they look forward to working with the government and Seychellois.

In an effort to reduce energy use in Seychelles, the Energy Commission is setting energy efficiency standards for five types of electrical home appliances entering Seychelles as of next year.

The standards mean it will be mandatory for bulbs, freezers and refrigerators, air conditioners, electric water heaters and washing machines to meet the required minimum standard. The announcement was made by Minister of Finance Peter Larose in his budget address last week.

Larose said that “with this policy, consumers should be able to minimise their energy bills and save money, and should make the most of this wonderful saving opportunity.” The new category of purchases will qualify for a break on the Value Added Tax. 

The long-term goal is to have only energy-efficient equipment in use in Seychelles.

The chief executive the Seychelles Energy Commission, Tony Imaduwa, said that these appliances were chosen as “they are the common types of equipment found in homes and they consume energy the most.”

The long-term goal is to have only energy-efficient equipment in use in Seychelles. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

This was outlined in a baseline study held by the commission that involved 200 households.

“I would say that almost 95 percent [of the population] has access to all these five types of equipment at their place,” said Cynthia Alexander, the principal officer of the commission’s Renewable Energy and Energy Department.

Distributors importing energy efficient appliances are being encouraged to display the energy efficiency labels that show information about the product's efficiency. Customers can hence choose the best appliance for their budget.

Helping businesses make appliances more affordable

As an incentive, all imported electrical appliances certified energy efficient by the commission will be exempted from the Value Added Tax. 

“A VAT exemption benefits the consumer directly as it makes the energy efficient products cheaper for the clients,” said Raja Ramani, Managing Director of Cellular Services – the authorised seller of Samsung in Seychelles.

He, however, stated that households that cannot afford to buy energy-efficient products, which are much more expensive, will not have the option of buying a cheaper product.

How residents can benefit

Already a subsidized loan scheme through the Seychelles Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programme (SEEREP) is in place to encourage residents to buy energy efficient and renewable technology appliances. Under the scheme, each household can benefit with up to $10,735 at a five percent rate of interest payable up to five years.

It will be mandatory for bulbs, freezers and refrigerators, air conditioners, electric water heaters and washing machines to meet the required minimum standard. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

“The objective of SEEREP is to provide you with financial incentives for you to replace your old inefficient appliance and not to start adding more equipment, which will lead to more energy consumption,” said Imaduwa.

Ramani of Cellular Services said that if the right of giving loans were extended to the distributors rather than the bank, the customers will not have to pay the interest.

“[Some banks] are not comfortable to give out these loans at these rates especially if they are not getting any guarantee from the buyer themselves,” said Ramani.

He added that this has been discussed in the past with the relevant agencies and that they “are ready to put in place a scheme to do this if the government extends the same guarantee that they are extending to the bank under the SEEREP programme.”

Ramani is also concerned with the service and disposal of appliances. Well-known brands provide after sales with spare parts in stock, he said and this will ensure that products not working properly can be repaired instead.

Imaduwa said that, together with the relevant ministry, the energy commission is reviewing the waste policy to come up with a mechanism that will deal with electrical and electronic waste.

“We have to look at the whole chain of the product which includes the disposal of the appliances,” said Imaduwa, adding that discussions are already ongoing. 

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