Archive for January, 2009

FAITH NEWS

The IOC controversy

Something of a hornets nest was stirred up by Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Membe when he dared to intervene in a Muslim-Christian dispute.

The Muslim people of Zanzibar have been pressing for years for Tanzania (or, at least Zanzibar by itself) to join the Organisation of the Muslim Conference (OIC). The Minister hinted that there might be some economic advantages in joining, even though Tanzania was a secular country. (For background see TA No 89).

The debate then escalated. On October 24 the Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT) called for the Minister’s resignation. His proposal would violate the country`s constitution. CCT Deputy Chairman Bishop Peter Kitula said section 19 (2) of the Union Constitution spelt out that Tanzania was a secular state and that religious issues were separated from all duties of running the country. He said the section was completely against the OIC charter (revised in March 2008) whose Section 1 (11) states: `to amend, promote, and preserve Islamic teachings and values based on modernisation and tolerance, promote Islamic culture and safeguard Islamic heritage. “We do not want religiosity here and we are not talking of any particular religion but there are people who have a hidden agenda while knowing that our constitution does not allow that.” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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TANZANITE IN ALASKA

tanzanite
Tanzanite on sale in Skagway (photo by the author)

There appears to be more Tanzanite in Alaska than in Tanzania! Judging by the range of jewellery and gemstones on offer on the cruise ship from Vancouver exploring the Inner Passage and the many shops lining the streets of Skagway and Juneau in Alaska, Tanzanite is apparently the number one gemstone in vogue at present. Whereas it is good to see a mineral product of Tanzania being exported for sale, the almost profligate quantity of Tanzanite being marketed raises the question, for how long can this continue? Is the Tanzanian economy gaining a fair income from its sale?

Minerals, notably gold and diamonds, have been a major revenue earner for Tanzania for decades. How relevant it was to be able to include some geology alongside and within the chemistry teaching at St Andrew’s College/Minaki Secondary School in the 1960s. I recall a colleague, Matthew Ole-Kasaro, jokingly recall how he and his friends used to play football in his home Arusha region with pebbles of minerals that by 1970 were becoming recognised as semi-precious stones. For more information on Tanzanite, see the website: www.tanzanitefoundation.org
David and Jackie Morgan

A new museum called the ‘Tanzanite Experience’ has been opened in Arusha. It is the first ever facility dedicated to Tanzanite which is found only in Manyara Region. The museum will collect, document, preserve, exhibit and interpret material connected with Tanzanite mining. Interactive media will be deployed to present the fascinating story of the rare violet-blue gemstone including sophisticated processing, cutting and polishing, all of which are being done within the country. Tanzanite One Limited, the largest miner of the rare gemstone, is supporting the project – Guardian.

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THE CREDIT CRUNCH & TANZANIA

by Joseph Kilasara
It is stimulus time. Finance ministers in the developed world are reaching for their red boxes trying to tighten or loosen some economic bolts and nuts in order to stimulate their faltering economies.

Reacting to the fallout from the credit crunch, President Kikwete pleaded with them not to touch the aid nut or perhaps try to loosen it a bit further. He went on to point out how our economy could be affected by the fall in future aid pledges, tourism related revenues, fall in demand of exports, increased borrowing costs of foreign loans as well as fall in foreign direct investments as capital markets in the developed world keep turning south.

For his part Governor Ndulu of the Tanzania Central Bank (BoT) assured the nation that the financial stability of the banking system is sound as demonstrated by an increase in private credit lending of up to 48% by September 2008. The banks are also not exposed to the secondary debt market championed in the northern world which has all but dried up and are said to be well capitalised to meet their maturing obligations. With a foreign exchange reserve of about $2.7bn, which is equivalent to about 5 months worth of importation, $1.6bn foreign currency deposits of Tanzania residents and $600m in commercial bank net foreign assets the BoT forecasts that going forward the economy is well cushioned against the potential fallout from the crisis and its ensuing recession.

Despite the Governor’s bold assurance and his immediate follow-up warning to banks against currency speculation, one could sympathize with the banks for making a quantitative interpretation of some of his statements such as: “The robustness of the foreign reserves is important for the stability of the Tanzania Shilling and confidence in the economy” and cause the US dollar to rise against the Shilling from 1,160 to 1,310 in four weeks. Blaming this fall on speculation is much the same as when naked short-sellers were blamed for the falling share price of the UK bank HBOS when its capital was actually inadequate.

Financing of the current account deficit which jumped by 49.1% in 2007 to $2,056.2m equivalent to about 17% of GDP is also a major cause of concern. At this rate of increase the reserve cushion looks very flat. Looking at BoT figures for the year up to August 2008, the structure of imports, where 38% comprise consumer goods and intermediate goods excluding oil means despite being endowed with an abundant level of resources and generous donors we are still borrowing substantially to pay for our daily consumption (see chart).
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Breakdown of Imports into Tanzania by value
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BUSINESS & THE ECONOMY

Exchange rates £1 – TShs 1,994
$1 – TShs 1,259

While western banks are reeling under the financial crisis Tanzanian banks reported a good year in 2007/8. On average, profit before and after tax for each bank increased by about 60% according to the Tanzania Banking Sector 2007 Performance Review by Ernst & Young. All the other banks, the report said, showed significant improvements and of the five loss-making banks of 2006 all recorded profits in 2007.
Among the commercial banks, Citibank recorded the highest interest income while the Dar es Salaam Community Bank was the highest among the non-commercial banks.

As at 31st December 2007 the banking sector comprised 23 commercial banks, three non-bank financial institutions and seven regional unit banks/financial institutions. The industry averages for return on average assets and return on average equity were 3% and 27% respectively, as in 2006. Standard Chartered Bank was the best individual performer in both cases with 8% and 61% respectively. Only one bank recorded a loss before and after tax – Sunday Observer.

Frank Mwakumbe writing in the Guardian noted that almost all banks experiencing the financial crisis in the USA operated as publicly traded companies and were privately owned and managed. He felt that this was a cause for caution about the privatisation process in Tanzania. A study by the ‘African Forum and Network on Debt and Development’ (AFRODAD) on Tanzanian’s experience with privatisation policies published in 2001 had summarised the benefits of privatisation, tersely: ‘Well performing privatised enterprises can contribute meaningfully to government revenue and to the economy as a whole in the form of taxes, increased production of quality goods and services, creation of more employment opportunities and introduction of modern technology. Read the rest of this entry »

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“WILDEBEESTS WILL VOTE FOR YOU”

There was a sharp debate in parliament when MP’s and others were invited to comment on the new ‘Wildlife Act 2008.’

“This Bill favours wildlife protection more than human beings” according to one participant.” “If you MP’s let it pass and become law, you must recruit wildebeests to vote for you come 2010” a village chairman said. The Bill would undermine indigenous Maasai people residing adjacent to the controlled areas in the vast districts of Simanjiro, Monduli, Longido and Ngorongoro. Mbakule Laizer from Longido was concerned by a certain section on the Bill that directed investors within the Wildlife Management Areas to pay fees direct to the Wildlife Division contrary to the previous system where they used to pay the respective village authorities. “We have spent a considerable time in our life to conserve the wildlife believing that one day we will reap the benefits of our efforts, but now when the government wants to rob us of the fees, I fear the move will spark off a dispute” one participant said amid applause from the floor.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Land, Natural Resources and Environment said it was unfair for villagers to threaten to deny MP’s their votes in the forthcoming general elections. “We have brought the Bill before you so that you can suggest what is to be removed or added, and we are ready to take you views in order to come up with a fair Wildlife Act at the end of the day,” he said – Guardian.

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STUDENTS STRIKE

In November some 16,000 Government-sponsored University of Dar es Salaam students and most other university undergraduate students were suspended indefinitely following their boycotting of classes in protest against loan fund allocations. They demanded that the government, through the ‘Higher Education Students Loans Board’ give them 100% loans instead of basing the loans they get on the financial status of their families, parents or guardians. The government decided to be tough and the affected universities were then closed. This seemed to exacerbate the situation with opposition parties condemning the government’s actions.

student
Tony Zakaria, a columnist writing in the government-owned Daily News was not impressed by the behaviour of the students. Extracts: ‘The pictures of students and teachers (also threatening to strike) on TV screens and on newspaper pages in the past few weeks have been colourful to say the least. Students dragging others from buses or classrooms to force them to join the strikes amounts to violence. So does the action of striking teachers throwing chairs at their leaders in a meeting hall…. teachers have been going to school but doing zero teaching in class….. Are they being paid salaries at the end of each month to silently ‘teach’ from their offices? We have seen hordes of pseudo-intellectuals on TV… struggling to juggle TVs, DVD players, impressive music systems and their suitcases large and small, as they scrambled to leave campus after they were booted out…The defiant, fire-breathing future intellectuals have vowed to fight on and strike again upon being reinstated at some unknown future date. You want to know how they spend their money, loaned or otherwise? Visit Mabibo hostel or any other dormitories of these potential future servants of the public. TV antennae growing like a forest of potted plants on windows for all to see. A cacophony of sound that passes for music …. will assail your ears, unless you are deaf to the obvious…. When do they seriously study, these music and vision lovers?’

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TANZANIA & THE WORLD CUP

Tanzania did not do well in the preliminary rounds of the World Cup to be held in South Africa in 2010. The results of the qualifying matches were as follows:
01-02/06/08: Tanzania 1-1 Mauritius
06-08/06/08: Cape Verde 1-0 Tanzania
13-15/06/08: Tanzania 0-0 Cameroon
20-22/06/08: Cameroon 2-1 Tanzania
05-07/09/08: Mauritius 1-4 Tanzania
This placed Tanzania in third place in its group and hence not eligible to continue in the competition. Teams have to be in one of the top two places to qualify. The group results were as follows:

Played W D L GF GA Pts
Cameroon 5 4 1 0 9 2 13
Cape Verde 5 3 0 2 6 5 9
Tanzania 5 1 2 2 6 5 5
Mauritius 5 0 1 4 3 1 2

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THE VICKERS VIMY & THE TABORA ANTHILL

An almost forgotten episode in Tanganyikan (and aviation) history was recalled by an auction in Shropshire on June 25 last year. Lot 42 was described as ‘the original Album of Captain F C Broome DFC covering the epic African Exploration Flight of January 1920 ……. including Broome’s original typed notes for his log of the flight.’ It sold for £700.
In 1919 there had been record-breaking flights across the Atlantic and to Australia by Vicars Vim aircraft and the South African government was keen to see a similar flight from London to Cape Town. Lord Northcliffe, owner of the Times newspaper, saw the chance of a scoop. On 4th February 1920 the Times announced in bold headlines that it was sponsoring a flight to Cape Town. This would not be a race, but a serious attempt to show ‘whether Africa can be traversed easily and safely from end-to-end by proper aircraft in ordinary conditions’.

The twin engined Vimy byplane, with two experienced RAF pilots (Captains Broome and Cockerel) and two mechanics on board, left England on 24th January and Broome’s logbook records their rather chequered progress. After leaving Brooklands aerodrome, he ‘nearly took the towers off Crystal Palace’; and having landed at Lyons to refuel, almost caused a strike by ‘asking for 600 gallons of juice’ on a Sunday night.

The plane also stopped at Naples, Malta, Tripoli and Benghazi and finally arrived at Cairo on 3rd February. There it was joined by Dr Charles Mitchell, Director of the London Zoo. who had been appointed Times Special Correspondent. Describing the hazards to be faced in Africa, the Times noted that the aircraft would fly along the east shore of Lake Victoria to avoid the ‘active volcanoes’ on the western shore which were ‘likely to cause atmospheric disturbances, which in their turn might bring about a forced landing among tribes addicted to cannibalism.’

On 5th February the Times revealed that another Vickers Vimy had set out from Brooklands aerodrome the previous day, piloted by two South Africans, Lieutenant Colonel van Ryneveld and Flight Lieutenant Brand. Their aircraft was imaginatively named ‘Silver Queen’.

The Times insisted that there was no race, noting that ‘it was of course never intended that the flight of the Times aero plane should be undertaken in a competitive spirit, but wholly for the purpose of scientific exploration and to test the route through Africa’. Nevertheless, Northcliffe wanted his plane to get to the Cape first.

The Times aircraft left Cairo on 6th February encouraged by a message from Queen Alexandra, and arrived at Khartoum on February 8th after two forced landings. It left Khartoum on February 10th but did not reach Jinja in Uganda until 22nd February. Repeated engine troubles caused more forced landings; adulterated fuel was probably to blame. Several nights were spent camping in the bush with ‘repose often disturbed by lions.’ Meanwhile Van Ryneveld was having his own problems. The Silver Queen crashed between Cairo and Khartoum and was damaged beyond repair. Undaunted, Van Ryneveld returned to Cairo and was lent a Vimey by the RAF. It was christened ‘Silver Queen II’. He left Cairo in the replacement plane on February 22nd After a refuelling stop at Mwanza the Times aircraft landed at Tabora on 26th February. They were greeted by a large crowd led by the Administrator of Tanganyika territory. Broome wrote: ‘Arrived Tabora cheerful. Thought worst part was over.’ But during take-off the next day the Vimy’s starboard engine cut out and the aircraft crash-landed in the scrub. It hit a large anthill and the impact forced the undercarriage into the lower wing. Fortunately none of those in board was injured but the plane was damaged beyond repair. Broome recorded: ‘All disgusted with rotten luck.’

Thus the Great African Exploration flight ended ignominiously on an ant hill.

Meanwhile ‘Silver Queen II’ reached Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia where it to crashed on take-off. The South African Government promptly sent a two seater single engined de Havilland DH9 christened ‘Voortrekker’ as a replacement. Whether or not it was within the spirit of the competition for a different plane to complete the final leg of the journey the two pilots were greeted as heroes when they arrived at Cape Town on 20th March 1920. They were awarded a prize of £5,000 each by the South Africans and were knighted by King George V. In the best traditions of British sportsmanship, the Times commented that ‘while extending our deepest sympathy to Dr Chalmers Mitchell and his gallant companions for the great disappointment which befell them….. we feel that no one will join in our congratulations to Colonel van Ryneveld and Major brand more heartily than they’.

Postscript – The fuselage of the wrecked Vickers Vimy was taken over by the Tabora Sporting Club for use as a pavilion. Do any of our older readers remember it?
John Sankey

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TANZANIA IN THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

An editorial in the Kenyan newspaper THE NATION (October 21) quoting from the Tanzanian paper The Citizen wrote: ‘Hardly a day after President Kikwete called for a crackdown to stem the killing of albinos another horrendous case was reported. An albino girl was on Sunday night slain in Kahama, Shinyanga. It’s not surprising that the story has gone all over the world. The international community is rightly puzzled about the madness that has befallen our country. That the killers stormed the Standard Three pupil’s home, killed her and chopped off her body parts before the very eyes of her terrified parents, speaks volumes about how cruel and inhuman these criminals can be. Serious measures must be taken now to stem the killings. Police cannot be everywhere, but the wananchi can. We should unite to fight the primitive acts by criminals driven by senseless superstition’ – Thank you Keith Lye for sending this – Editor.

Tanzania has a large population of refugees from neighbouring countries and London’s GUARDIAN WEEKLY REVIEW (September 26) devoted a piece under the headline: ‘Last of the exiles return’. Extracts: ‘Peace has now returned to Burundi, and many who fled 30 years ago are returning home. 85-year-old Michael Bihonzi is among many who fled the ethnic massacres that started in 1972 and which consequently left up to 200,000 people dead, reports Xan Rice. Bihonzi, who found peace and safety in a Tanzanian refugee camp, climbed on board a truck with 23 of his children and grandchildren, and headed across the border with a cash grant of $40 from UNHCR, the UN refugee agency that is managing the repatriation effort. ‘More than 450,000 refugees have already returned. Now, with the last active rebel group in Burundi showing willingness to lay down its arms […] Tanzania has decided to close its remaining refugee camps near its western border.’

In an exclusive interview, AFRICA REPORT (October-November) asked Tanzania’s President Kikwete some pertinent questions regarding the country’s economy, the fight against corruption and, as he is currently chairman of the AU, his thoughts on democracy in Africa. The paper wanted to know why ‘statistics on malnutrition and sanitation remain appalling’ even though ‘Tanzania has a record of sustained growth and investment’? The President explained that ‘the huge investment’ Tanzania has made is just ‘beginning to translate itself.’ A sustained economic growth [7%] over a period of ten years will double the country’s GDP. ‘We are now seeing the result of that. It is close to $20bn from $15bn seven years ago.’ In a brief explanation of Tanzania’s economic history, the President said there was a time when there were empty shelves in the shops, which were then owned by the state. However, with the start of the economic reforms in 1986, under the leadership of President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, the economy began to turn around. Mwinyi allowed anyone who had the money to bring goods into the shops. “We came from very difficult beginnings, to the extent that if today somebody preached socialism, we would think he must be crazy.”

In a report published in THE EAST AFRICAN (October 13-19) Tanzania has opposed the consensus reached by Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya that residents in one of the partner states can acquire land in another, saying that it is too early for the country to fully open its lands to other East Africans. One of the barriers to committing to the acquisition of land seems to be Tanzania’s land tenure system which declares that ‘all land is publicly owned by the head of state in trust for the whole nation with different legal regimes applying to rural and urban areas.’ “In Tanzania, you must have big investments to acquire land,” said Barack Ndegwa, a director in the Kenyan Ministry of EAC Affairs. It should be noted that Tanzanian negotiators declined to speak to the East African. Apparently, language sparked off another disagreement. According to Edith Kateme, Burundi wanted “access” to lands in the five-member states whereas Rwanda insisted on the word “acquire”. Kenya and Uganda opted for “may access”. There was hope that the issue could be resolved during the meeting in Zanzibar in November.

‘Now make way for us”. [Norway learns:] ‘A lesson in sustainability from Tanzania’, reports the economist Michael Fergus in HABARI, the journal of the Sweden-Tanzania Society. Fergus’s article debunks the ‘persistent, and very depressing myth that much of the infrastructure built in rural Africa in the 1970’s and 1980’s financed by the West, turned to dust, as soon as the donor left.’ A study (published in November 2007) of the water and sanitation schemes in Tanzania and Kenya, supported by Norwegian development aid, gives a complete lie to this myth. It shows that between 70% and 90% of the schemes built between 20 and 30 years ago are still working well. To the surprise of donor agencies, villages in the remote Tanzanian regions of Kigoma and Rukwa, in the spirit of kujitegemea, self-reliance, have managed to maintain a high percentage of water aid investments without assistance from the Tanzanian government.

The EAST AFRICAN (18th August) reported on a new export market being developed in the East Usambara mountains in Tanga region. Under the ‘Amani Butterfly Project’ insects are exported to the UK, USA, Switzerland, France and Germany. Depending on the species, butterfly pupae are sold for between $1 and $2.50 each. On arrival at their destinations they are cultivated in butterfly houses which charge fees to tourists wanting to see tropical butterflies flying under glass roofs. Since 2003 the project has paid more than $70,000 to butterfly farmers.

Columnist Melanie Reid informed readers of THE TIMES (May 26) of the disturbing plight faced by Tanzanian escorts (guides and porters) who accompany some 25,000 Western tourists on their quest to climb Africa’s tallest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro. In stark contrast to their Nepalese counterparts, working on Mt Everest, who are well-fed and well-clothed and who are now ‘recognised and recompensed for the unique skills they offer the developed world at play’, Tanzanian guides are extremely low-paid and ill equipped by the companies that organise the lucrative trips. According to Reid, ‘Up to 20 guides and porters die on Kilimanjaro every year[…] These young men exist in a ruthless free-market economy vying with each other for the jobs, and risking their own health with enforced lay-offs and lack of proper re-acclimatisation,’ says Reid. Porters (who carry 20kg packs containing water, food, firewood and the tourist’s possessions) earn $3 a day; guides up to £10. ‘Allegedly,’ says the columnist, ‘some companies do not pay their staff any salaries at all, but let them rely on tips.’ – Thank you John Sankey for sending this Editor

Several international media (including BBCSwahili, and MSNBC) reported the ceremonies held in Kenya and Tanzania in memory of the victims of the al-Qaeda bomb attacks on the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. The attacks, which took place on August 7, 1998, killed over 200 people and wounded 5,000.

On Thursday 2nd October, FOXNEWS.com wrote under the headline: ‘Dance Turned Stampede Kills 20 Children in Tanzania’. Extracts: ‘At least 400 children aged 5 to 13 were inside the hall in the town of Tabora when the stampede occurred. [The children] were dancing to English and Kiswahili songs [while they celebrated] the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday.’ Police Commander Daudi Siasa said, “The children were trapped inside the hall, which has a capacity to accommodate maximum 200 people, but the number was more than double inside at the time.” President Kikwete sent condolences to the children’s families and dispatched a senior cabinet member to investigate.

In its ‘Country Profile on Tanzania’ by Walragala Wakabi in October the NEW INTERNATIONALIST awarded star ratings to various aspects of Tanzania today. In income distribution it awarded three stars, for life expectancy two, literacy three, freedom five (‘a thriving and powerful media and civil society’) and for its treatment of sexual minorities one star. On the latter it wrote: ‘Homosexuality is illegal; new laws have criminalised lesbianism and same sex marriage is punishable by imprisonment for seven years.’ On President Kikwete it wrote that he had maintained the neo-liberal and pro-privatisation policies of his predecessors….. but he had pussy-footed about the lingering issue of the relationship between mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar which feels marginalised and wants greater autonomy – the rising friction between the two has become a threat to what has hitherto been among the most politically stable countries on the continent’ – Thank you Sister Lucia for this – Editor

TZUK NEWS (September-October) published a story written by Gloria Mutahanamilwa about Boniface Hima (25) who is training to be in the British army where he hopes to be working as a Royal Engineer. Extracts: Hima is a born again Christian and I asked him how he mixed his strong Christian beliefs with a job in the armed forces. He replied: “If you read the Bible, there were wars and killings and God didn’t condemn Moses when he killed and buried someone with his own hands. He went on to say that if he were asked to go to the front line nothing would stop him as he had taken an oath of allegiance swearing to be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and her heirs and successors.
Boniface
Royal Engineer Boniface Hima (photo courtesy Mr & Mrs B.Hima)
He is enjoying every minute of his training and is encouraging other ethnics to join. The writer concluded: “I am left with one big question. If Tanzania and the United Kingdom should ….where would his allegiance lie?”

Who owns Obama? was the question posed in the EAST AFRICAN on November 10. Everyone knows that Kenya owns half of him but, according to the Tanzanian ‘Weekend African’ Obama is actually a quarter Tanzanian. The president-elect’s grandmother on his father’s side, the paper claims, hailed from Kowak village in Tarime District close to the border with Kenya.

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KILIMANJARO SNOW WILL NOT GO

Tanzanian researcher Prof. Ernest Njau has said that snow on Mt. Kilimanjaro will not disappear around 2017, as suggested by foreign scientists. He said that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report contained prediction errors due to imperfections in the climate models used. Recent scientific reports had taken the sunspot-climate relationship into account and had come up with a prediction that a 430-year-long global cooling trend was due to start in about the year 2060, and the Ice on Kilimanjaro would return to its original state. He said it was true that the average global temperature had not increased since 1998, despite the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide by 4% over the same period.

Last year, another study on the dwindling ice on the mountain’s cap suggested that global warming had nothing to do with the alarming loss of its snow. US-based scientists Philip Mote and Georg Kaser linked the problem to a process known as sublimation that occurs at below-freezing temperatures and converts ice directly to water vapour with the liquid phase skipped. They said that the Kibo icecap (19,340 feet above sea level) occupied about 12.5 square miles when first measured but this had dwindled to about 7.5 square miles by 1912, to about 4.3 square miles by 1953, and just over 1.5 square miles by 2003 – Guardian.

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