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There is a curious disconnection between Egypt’s dire political and financial straits and the relatively upbeat assessments from the international oil companies (IOCs) developing assets there. In spite of the continued closure of Eni and Union Fenosa’s Damietta LNG export terminal and the substantial debt owed by Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) to domestic gas producers, long-term prospects still appear to justify investments.


Despite governance shortfalls and a number of crises, President Filipe Nyusi’s government has reassured investors with its support for transformational LNG schemes, leading towards final investment decisions and financial close in the months to come. This is a major success for an African gas industry where smaller projects seem to be making more impact than the majority of big-ticket schemes. Mozambique’s progress reassured CbI Meetings’ 2-3 May Africa Investment Exchange: Gas event in London that the African industry can deliver world-scale projects.


President Paul Biya has not survived in power for over 37 years by showing great sensitivity to local or international criticism, let alone by accommodating outright opposition. Like other leaders and sympathetic opinion-formers across Central Africa and beyond, he has rationalised authoritarian tendencies and crony relations by insisting on his regime’s essential role in ensuring stability. While governance shortfalls may define the daily lives of Cameroon’s multi-ethnic population, a nation created first by German colonisation and then by division between the British and French empires has traditionally avoided identity-based conflict.


The confirmation by Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s 30 July election victory was above board brushed aside opposition MDC Alliance complaints, along with growing international scepticism about the hotly disputed poll. Violent scenes in Harare following the results’ announcement raised concerns that the new administration may yet have more in common with the dark years of Robert Mugabe’s rule than with Mnangagwa’s loudly proclaimed “open for business” policy. Mnangagwa was sworn in on 26 August but has yet to appoint his cabinet or a vice-president.


The 22 January announcement that Globeleq and its partner IPS had reached financial close for the 253MW expansion of their 460MW Azito gas-fired plant at Yopougon, near Abidjan, was timed to coincide with a visit to London by an Ivorian delegation led by President Alassane Dramane Ouattara for the UK-Africa Summit. General Electric will provide gas turbine technology and services for the Phase IV project. The new and enlarged 20-year Azito concession agreement underscores Côte d’Ivoire’s ability to finance major private sector infrastructure projects.

Côte d'Ivoire

Personalities remain a key factor in shaping a continent trying to emerge from lost decades of ‘big man’ politics. While the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) made much of efforts to create a post-conflict ‘developmental state’ in the last two decades, modern Ethiopia was fashioned in the image of the late Meles Zenawi, who harnessed an intolerant, Tigrayan-dominated political system to a rigid but fast-growing (if unbalanced) economy.

Ethiopia | Eritrea

Has Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar overreached in his high-risk military advance on Tripoli? The dominant view is that he has erred politically by throwing everything into an all-or-nothing play for domination, and militarily by underestimating the difficulty of conquering the capital and the cohesiveness of local militias. The alternative view is that while military options remain open to him, there is no reason to compromise, especially with the militias who increasingly dominate and control the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). He may still have some advantage to gain.


The much-anticipated partial float of the naira, introduced from 20 June, reflected a concession by President Muhammadu Buhari, who had resisted devaluation as he did during his first stint as president in the 1980s. Buhari was forced by deteriorating economic conditions and declining confidence to listen to markets. African Energy hears that concerns over the naira and other issues have led to the World Bank Group, a key guarantor of the liberalised generation and distribution system, making quiet threats to stop guarantees.


The standoff between Sudan’s diffuse opposition movement and the military junta that replaced President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir in mid-April has deepened as both sides – each in their own way deeply divided – dig in. This could pose major problems for Africa and a creaking international order.While US national security adviser John Bolton was quick to condemn violence against peaceful demonstrators, Washington, former colonial power Britain, and other European states are not expected to play a defining role.

Issue 240 - 05 October 2012

Backers line up for Lamu Corridor scheme


Of all the assorted regional infrastructure projects jostling for supremacy in East Africa, the growing credibility of the Lamu Corridor project raises the possibility of a new East African power axis of Kenya and an emergent Ethiopia.

Kenya | South Sudan | Uganda | Ethiopia

As the economic powerhouse of southern Africa, with a legacy burnished by its emergence two decades ago from apartheid, South Africa is expected to take a leading role in the continent’s politics. Through players such as African Union secretary-general Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the expansion of its corporate presence north of the Limpopo, SA is doing just that. Its ambitions are huge: for example, taking a lead in developing the Inga hydroelectric resource in Democratic Republic of Congo. But concerns that high political ambitions are often tainted by low economic motivations have become pervasive during Jacob Zuma’s presidency, emerging again in Central African Republic.

Central African Republic | South Africa

The African Development Bank (AfDB) announced on 29 June that South Korea’s Ministry of Economy and Finance (MoEF) and the Export-Import Bank of Korea had signed an agreement to provide $600m to co-finance energy projects in Africa. It adds to the glut of funds targeting the African power sector, but oversupply of donor money – or undersupply of projects – is driving interest rates down and causing concern amongst financiers.


Prizes and league tables should often be treated with great caution (as underlined by Nobel laureate Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s war in Tigray), but credit should be given when it is due and, in that context, Uganda’s fourth consecutive first place in the African Development Bank (AfDB)’s Electricity Regulatory Index should be acknowledged as a triumph for the rule of law and sound management.


The proliferation of coups d’état across West Africa and the wider region over the past 18 months points to the return of chronic instability to one of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable (not least to climate change) regions. Many parts of the post-colonial continent, and especially its emerging West African nations, were defined by the speedy demise of civilian government as military rulers took over in the 1960s.


Industry scepticism about the project’s economics notwithstanding, on 23 January, President Uhuru Kenyatta shook hands with Total executive committee member Momar Nguer to confirm the French major’s commitment to investing in the Lokichar-Lamu oil pipeline. These things matter in East African oil and geostrategic manoeuvring; Uganda’s export pipeline was planned to pass through Lokichar until Total backed a rival route to Tanzania, but having since bought Maersk Oil, it needs an export route in Kenya too.