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Revealed: The Kuga warnings Ford ignored



Ford was warned for at least a year that its Kuga SUV had potentially deadly problems – but appears not to have acted on the alarm bells. At least 47 Kugas have caught alight and one person has died after his car burst into flames.

An investigation by The Times has established that Ford SA was warned of the problems last January following an investigator’s probe into two Kuga fires. Insurance companies also confirmed that they had alerted the company to issues relating to the Kuga going back as far as 2014.

Ford issued an alert to Kuga owners only in December after the National Consumer Commission summoned it following our reports about the burning vehicles and about the death of Reshall Jimmy. Jimmy died when his Kuga caught fire in December 2015.

Ford and the consumer commission are due to make a “major announcement” today. Speculation is that it will involve a recall of the model, one of which caught fire as recently as Saturday.

E-mails seen by The Times show that fire investigator Larry Jenkinson, hired by Discovery Insure, raised the alarm with the insurance company after he investigated two Kuga fires in January last year. Jenkinson believed the fires were similar to fires in a similar model in the US and Europe, following which Ford ordered a mass recall of the vehicle.

But Ford’s news operations director, John Gardiner, said the recalled vehicles are not the same as the ones imported into South Africa. Ford did not respond to questions asking what it had done when alerted to the problems.

It was Jenkinson’s report into a fire which destroyed Pretoria mother Zané Verhoef’s Kuga that caught the attention of Discovery Insure’s claims specialist, Shawn Muller. Verhoef was rescued from her burning car after her daughter, Tinique, 11, stopped another motorist. Verhoef had managed to get Tinique out of the car, but was trapped when her feet got stuck underneath the car’s pedals.

Verhoef’s fire occurred a month after Jimmy’s car caught alight. Jenkinson’s report concludes that the fire had been at the back and lower extremities of the engine compartment of Verhoef’s Kuga.

“The fire is considered to have occurred on the superheated surfaces of the exhaust manifold, the turbocharger and the catalytic converter. The combustible media that was ignited is engine oil and oil vapours that have leaked from the engine in or around the engine’s turbocharger and/or the cylinder head,” his report said.

“The nature of the oil leakage condition is entirely consistent with other problems apparently caused through localised engine overheating conditions that have already been identified by Ford USA and Europe and recall campaigns have already been introduced to attend to the problem.”

Jenkinson said he could find no other reasons for the fire.

The Times has learnt that, after receiving Jenkinson’s report, Muller contacted Ford five times between January and February to alert them to the findings. Verhoef’s husband, Bertie, who was given Jenkinson’s report, e-mailed it to Ford’s Phineas Papo, but no response was forthcoming.

“When Ford stopped communicating, Discovery told us they would handle the matter. They said the report was in our favour and they would take Ford on.”

The Times has seen several e-mails, in which Jenkinson’s report is attached, sent in August by Discovery to Ford, in which the insurer questions the lack of responses to its queries and the concerns of its clients.

Discovery confirmed that it had attempted to liaise with Ford SA on fire-related claims from 2016. Ford had acknowledged receipt of its e-mails. Discovery, which has dealt with three Kuga fire claims, declined to answer if Ford had provided it with a detailed response.

Robyn Farrell, CEO of Telesure’s short-term insurance division that includes Dial Direct – which had insured Jimmy’s Kuga – said it had rejected two Kuga fire claims, one of which was Jimmy’s.

“Those two claims were rejected as the fire was found to be caused by a mechanical fault; a standard exclusion on vehicle policies.”

Telesure said it had 775 of the 1.6 litre Kugas in question on its books. Farrell said Telesure had contacted Ford SA after every one of the claims and advised its customers to do the same. The company didn’t say how or whether Ford had responded.

Between 2014 and 2016 insurer Santam processed five Kuga claims and settled all of them. Santam spokesman Donald Kau said: “Ford SA was made aware of those claims.”

Hollard spokesman Warwick Bloom said the insurer had handled two such claims in the past year. Bloom said if a manufacturer’s defect is to blame, it could potentially institute recovery action against Ford. He said in one of the cases the client had opted to pursue “a recovery” directly against Ford.

The SA Insurance Association said it was concerned with the “phenomenon in which multiple Kugas were damaged by fire”.

“It’s come to our notice that a similar model has been recalled by the manufacturer in the US. We trust the manufacturer in South Africa will follow suit and a proper investigation will be done to confirm the cause of the fire damage to so many vehicles so the problem can be addressed appropriately.”

Ford’s Gardiner said it was in contact with insurance companies, “but it would be inappropriate for us to discuss the dialogue with them at this time”. He said recalls in the US related to 2013-model 1.6 litre Escapes built in Louisville, Kentucky. [Kugas are known as Escapes in the US.]

“It did not relate to Escape vehicles built elsewhere in the world, or to the Ford Kuga models built in Europe, including those exported to South Africa. Our decisions [on recalls] are driven by the data available. When the data indicates a safety recall is needed, we move quickly on behalf of our customers.

“Our investigation in South Africa is not complete, but we have agreed with the National Consumer Commission that we will keep it and Kuga customers updated on our progress and will report back to it at the end of February.”

Gardiner said investigations into the Kuga fires in South Africa have led Ford to discover that the fires may be a result of engine overheating. He said customers with these vehicles should take their cars to a Ford dealer where the coolant systems can be checked.

Source: The Times

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Nissan SA’s Whitfield given Egypt portfolio




CAPE TOWN – Nissan South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa managing director Mike Whitfield has been appointed managing director of Nissan Motor Egypt.

The Japanese-based group said yesterday that Whitfield would also serve as chairperson of Nissan in Africa South as it announced changes in its senior management structure in Africa to drive growth.

Africa is seen as the last frontier for global carmakers. The group said Whitfield would be based in Cairo and his appointment would be effective from June 20.

Whitfield, a former president of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa and vice-president of the African Association of Automotive Manufacturers, joined Nissan in 1981 as a marketing trainee.

Since then he has held a variety of senior positions before being appointed as Nissan SA’s managing director in 2008. “Under his leadership, Nissan posted a record market share in South Africa of more than 10 percent in the last financial year, the highest this century,” the group said.

It said Shinkichi Izumi would succeed him as the managing director of Nissan South Africa.

“Nissan has a plan for rapid and sustainable growth in Africa. We were the first to assemble cars in Nigeria and our ambition is to lead the way in developing automotive manufacturing on the continent,” said the chairperson of Nissan’s Africa, Middle East and India region, Peyman Kargar.



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Smile Telecoms Appoints Ahmad Farroukh As New Group Chief Executive Officer



Irene Charnley, founder of Smile, appointed as Deputy Chairman

PORT LOUIS, Mauritius, May 21, 2019 – Ahmad Farroukh, Smile Group Executive Director Operations, appointed as Group CEO; Irene Charnley, founder of Smile, appointed as Deputy Chairman.

Smile Telecoms, a Pan-African telecommunications group with operations in Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, today announces the appointments of Mr. Ahmad Farroukh as Group Chief Executive Officer and Ms. Irene Charnley as Deputy Chairman, respectively, effective 1 June 2019.

Ahmad Farroukh, who currently serves as Smile’s Group Executive Director Operations, is a seasoned and experienced telecoms executive with a distinguished record of commercial and operational success. Mr. Farroukh’s vast experience extends to executive management positions at Investcom Holdings and the MTN Group (where he served as CEO of MTN Nigeria, MTN South Africa and Group Chief Operating Executive, responsible for 19 countries) and immediately prior to joining Smile, as CEO of Mobily, Saudi Arabia’s second largest telecommunications operator. Given the extent of the opportunity and the significance to Smile, Ahmad will spend the majority of his executive time in Nigeria.

Hailed as one of Africa’s most successful business leaders, Smile Telecoms founder and shareholder, Irene Charnley has led the Company’s innovation and pioneering of Africa’s first 4G LTE network infrastructure, using low band spectrum in 800MHz band. thereby revolutionizing the way people in Africa accessed high speed internet. After 12 years at the helm, Ms. Charnley will now serve as Deputy Chairman for the Company and will fulfil a strategic role.

Commenting on the announcement, Mohammed H. Sharbatly, Smile’s Co-Chairman and Group CEO of Smile’s majority shareholder, Al Nahla Group of KSA, said “The Africa telecoms market is as dynamic as it is challenging, and Ahmad is suited to lead Smile’s next exciting phase of growth, as we have transitioned from a spectrum rich upstart to the fastest, most reliable data gigabyte factory in Sub-Sahara Africa. We are equally delighted that Irene will continue to serve the company she founded as Deputy Chair, and we look forward to her ongoing strategic direction and guidance.”

“The next phase for Smile will focus on delivering excellent operational returns, achieving profitability and creating value for all stakeholders, and I believe that Ahmed is best suited to lead the Company forward in this regard”, added Irene Charnley.

“Africa is experiencing explosive data growth, and I am honoured to have the opportunity to lead the operations of one of the continent’s best 4G LTE networks at this exciting time. It has also been a revelation after over 20 years in the industry to witness the power and versatility of Smile’s proprietary technology applications platform, which was developed in-house and provides a huge competitive and cost advantage,” concluded Ahmad Farroukh.

Smile Telecoms Holdings Ltd.

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General Electric appoints Eric Amoussouga as GE Francophone Africa CEO



Eric is also Sales Director for GE’s Grid Solutions Business across Sub-Saharan Africa

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, April, 2019 — General Electric (GE) has announced the appointment of Eric Amoussouga as the Chief Executive Officer for Francophone Africa. In this position, Eric will play a pivotal role in steering the next phase of strategy and growth for GE in Francophone African markets.

Based in Abidjan, Eric will lead the development of diverse programs with public and private sector projects and partnerships across Francophone Africa.

Commenting on the appointment, Farid Fezoua, President and CEO, GE Africa, reiterated GE’s commitment to work together with government and private sector order to develop public private partnerships and sustainable outcome-based solutions.

“We are optimistic about Francophone Africa and the opportunities to develop breakthrough solutions in power, healthcare, aviation and renewable energy. We believe that the appointment of Eric is a further step in making our vision a reality. We are also glad to bring on board someone with the experience and passion required to drive our growth in this region,” he said.

Eric brings onboard 19 years of experience in the energy sector with the major players like AREVA, ALSTOM and GE and has strong expertise in energy business development and sales strategy especially in West and Central Africa.

“I am very excited to be leading GE’s regional growth in Francophone Africa and driving innovative initiatives to support the needs of GE stakeholders within the region.” Eric Amoussouga said.

Partnership with Governments and local companies form a very important part of GE’s growth in Francophone Africa and across the continent. Through these collaborations, GE has made significant investments to develop infrastructure projects, including sustainable energy solutions, provide efficient and reliable transportation as well as improve access to quality healthcare.

– GE

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