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Too often ignored except in times of extreme crisis, Lesotho is looking to emerge from years of political instability and economic malaise under previous coalition governments, as the Basotho population counts on newly-elected tycoon Prime Minister Sam Matekane to usher in transformative change.

Lesotho
Free

Pay-as-you-go power distributor M-Kopa Solar on 24 March announced that it had connected over 20,000 off-grid homes in Uganda; it is now expanding its solar power distribution, targeting an additional 50,000 Ugandan homes by end-2015. M-Kopa Solar was launched in October 2012 in Kenya, where it now supplies over 150,000 homes, and began pilot operations in eastern Uganda in mid-2013. Consumer-friendly sales plans, serviced with regular payments via mobile phones (in Uganda provided by MTN Mobile Money and Airtel Money, in Kenya by the fast-growing M-Pesa platform), are central to M-Kopa’s rapid growth.

Free

When most African governments struggle to fund even the most essential projects, costly new technologies may seem a luxury. But rethinking how they can be applied to energy networks can be a valuable exercise for policy-makers and investors: ‘disruptive technology’ can have far-reaching benefits, or prove a red herring for cash-strapped economies.

Kenya | Ghana | Rwanda | Djibouti | Morocco | South Africa
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Zimbabwe provided one of the most impressive delegations to the 2019 Africa Energy Forum, where new energy and power development minister Fortune Chasi explained how a government committed to reform was working hard to reach its target of 11GW electricity generation capacity, from around 2GW now. After years of chaotic or no planning, Chasi reported that “an integrated resource plan is under way”, while licensing procedures were being eased for private power investors.

Zimbabwe
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Once the right economics and policies are put in place, the pace of advance made by the most successful renewable energy types, including wind power and solar photovoltaic (PV), can be exceptionally fast. Extrapolations of continent-wide trends by the new African Energy Live data (Live data) suggest that sustainable technologies can replace polluting (and, increasingly, often costlier) thermal solutions which include the diesel, heavy fuel oil and charcoal that hundreds of millions in sub-Saharan Africa have come to depend on.

Uganda | Morocco | Senegal | South Africa
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Contracts must be concluded to show that renewable energy (RE) schemes are more than hot air, African Energy wrote last year. More solar and wind projects were being tendered in Morocco and South Africa’s new-found enthusiasm for RE would be confirmed if the much-anticipated first round of its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPP) was a success (AE 215/24).

Morocco | South Africa
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Investors, contractors and financiers have been reassessing southern Africa’s potential to emerge as a natural gas producer, supply hub and importer of molecules and electrons for gas-to-power (GTP) schemes. Mozambique’s emergence as an LNG exporter gives it potential to develop new gas-based industry and infrastructure. Developments in southern Mozambique further suggest it could drive a wider regional industry, with more gas exported by pipeline.

Mozambique | Botswana | Lesotho | Angola | Namibia | Malawi | eSwatini (Swaziland) | Zambia | Zimbabwe | South Africa
Subscriber

Industry players continue to make bullish sounds about projects in Ethiopia, despite the murderous conflict pitting the Abiy Ahmed government against Tigrayan rebels that is putting some financing on hold and leading to geopolitical realignments in the region, writes Dan Marks

Ethiopia
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Is it worth devoting time to understanding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) given that hard-nosed business people so often dismiss the motherhood-and-apple pie aspirations of big global initiatives? The 17 SDGs unveiled by the United Nations last September to replace the partially achieved Millennium Development Goals so far lack detail; the dedicated website (www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment) provides minimal information. However, the non-binding targets should gain substance as national government plans and expert recommendations appear in coming weeks. And the SDGs are emerging as a baseline for harmonising global action, as governments and international institutions work to implement the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP21)’s Paris agreement.

Free

Cameroon may be the Central African Economic and Monetary Community’s largest economy, but it remains a political and commercial enigma. Decision-making can move at a glacial pace, in a political system dominated by President Paul Biya, whose apparent aspirations to be re-elected to a fourth seven-year term are a cause of concern, not least for a youthful population living in poor economic and social circumstances. However, progress has been made in delivering services, reflected in the energy sector by national utility Eneo, owned by UK private equity investor Actis, and Victoria Oil and Gas’s growing business selling gas to industry and consumers in commercial hub Douala.

Cameroon
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It hardly rates on the scale of the drama that a courageous Tunisian population delivered to the world in ousting Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, but manoeuvrings by members of the former presidential circle to allow them to profit handsomely with little effort from the award of contracts for a gas-fired

Tunisia
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What’s not to like for investors in President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s Egypt? The government’s International Monetary Fund-supported reform programme has greatly improved macroeconomic conditions; Egypt was a rare economy that reported some growth in Covid-plagued 2020, despite a huge downturn in tourism and other key revenue-earners. Its commitment to accelerating infrastructure development has sucked funds into global-scale solar and wind power programmes.

Egypt
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President Cyril Ramaphosa has won plaudits for his public determination to clean up South African governance, as underlined by his suspension of African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Ace Magashule. This clean-up has been supported by governance-focused civil society and media, and independent-minded members of the judiciary, but as African Energy’s South Africa power report pointed out, public confidence remains dangerously low after the ‘state capture’ years – and this negative environment is impacting across the economy.

South Africa
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It is more than a whisper: international institutions and private equity (PE) investors are again exploring major hydroelectric power (HEP) deals, after years during which environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns made big dams a problematic issue for development finance institutions (DFI) and other potential investors.

Mozambique | DR Congo | Malawi | Nigeria | Togo
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Opposition from local authorities to UK private equity investor Actis’ planned takeover of French operator Veolia Environnement’s electricity, water and sanitation concessions in Morocco may be explained in part by a shift in political and popular opinion away from privately financed projects and concessions back to a greater role for local politicians and the state. Morocco is not alone in this: public/private partnership models that give public bodies, and the politicians who lead them, more control are increasingly in vogue.

Ghana | Rwanda | Ethiopia | Morocco