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One region seems above all others to stubbornly buck the positive political and economic trends recorded over two decades by African Energy: it comprises the six Communauté Economique et Monétaire de l’Afrique Centrale (Cemac) countries and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Events in the last month, including a failed coup in Gabon and contested elections in DRC, underline Central Africa’s chronic crisis of leadership. Such political behaviours are increasingly seen as an anachronism in a world structured by social media, as well as by older social bonds and traditional patterns of coercion by elites.

Issue 243 - 15 November 2012

Zanzibar dispute progress for Shell

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Tanzania’s Union Government and the semi-autonomous Zanzibar Revolutionary Government have reached preliminary agreement over a revenue-sharing deal that could eventually permit exploration to go ahead in the archipelago’s waters. Royal Dutch Shell was awarded northern offshore blocks 9-12 to the east of Zanzibar in the 2002 licensing round but has been unable to conclude a production-sharing agreement.

Tanzania
Issue 245 - 13 December 2012

Eni under scrutiny in Algeria probe

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An investigation by the Milan Public Prosecutor’s Office into Saipem’s Algerian activities led to the 5 December resignations of chief executive Pietro Franco Tali and Eni chief financial officer Alessandro Bernini, and the suspension of Pietro Varone, chief operating officer of Saipem’s engineering & construction business unit.

Algeria
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President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his State of the Nation address on 7 February that “Eskom is in crisis and the risks it poses to South Africa are great”, a point emphasised when stage 4 load-shedding – meaning that more than 4GW was cut from the grid – was implemented a few days later. Ramaphosa said that unless a new business model was found for the utility, South Africa would face the same problem again and again.

South Africa
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While the $2bn-plus ‘tuna bonds’ scandal rumbles on in international courts, Mozambique’s reputation has generally been boosted on President Filipe Nyusi’s watch. The authorities have coped relatively effectively with crises like Cyclone Idai and in ending armed conflict with Renamo, while the Rovuma Basin gas developments could transform the economy by the mid-2020s. An impressive upturn in internationally financed solar and other projects underlines Mozambique’s emergence as a hub in the global energy transition, aided by the hard work of committed local officials.

Mozambique
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Even before the death on 23 December of deputy defence minister and chief of staff Ahmed Gaïd Salah, major political issues remained to be resolved before Algeria could reasonably look forward to a stable future. The Hirak protest movement, which has been active since last February – removing enfeebled president Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April – continues to call for root-and-branch political change during weekly mass demonstrations. Abdelmadjid Tebboune was elected president on 12 December; he has appointed a new government under a little-known prime minister, Abdelaziz Djerad, which includes many familiar faces, including energy minister Mohamed Arkab.

Algeria
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Nigeria has endured another long wait for President Muhammadu Buhari to announce his new government. Re-elected in February, Buhari finally swore in members of his new cabinet on 21 August. During the long interim, key officers of state have worked to steady the ship; Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Godwin Emefiele has won praise for his stewardship of an under-pressure economy, while vice-president Yemi Osinbajo continues to reassure investors.

Nigeria
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Talks are under way between the Tanzanian government and Symbion Power to settle a dispute that erupted in 2016 after the government claimed a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) signed in December 2015 for Symbion’s 112MW Ubungo gas power plant was not valid. The first meeting between government representatives and Symbion Power Tanzania Ltd chief executive Magesvaran Subramaniam took place in August. Symbion Power LLC chief executive Paul Hinks and his lawyer Cherie Blair are expected to fly to Dar es Salaam in October for high-level meetings.

Tanzania
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Eyebrows were raised in Abidjan when President Alassane Dramane Ouattara’s niece Nina Keita was appointed deputy director-general of Société de Gestion des Stocks Pétroliers de Côte d’Ivoire (Gestoci). The appointment was signed off by hydrocarbons, energy and renewable energy minister Abdourahmane Cissé. At the budget ministry, Keita worked in communications for Cissé, who is close to Ouattara, a fellow finance specialist turned politician. More recently, she gained an MBA from Columbia Business School.

Côte d'Ivoire
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Zimbabwe’s government is piecing together a policy programme to stimulate investment into its moribund power sector. Recovering energy output is a central pillar of government efforts to revitalise the economy. But President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration faces an uphill battle and a critical few weeks, highlighted by a recent visit from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) ahead of delivery of the budget on 22 November. The budget will prioritise engagement with lenders, in particular development finance institutions.

Zimbabwe
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A political standoff in Morocco which has meant coalition member Istiqlal leaving the government, is more likely to see the largest party, the moderate Islamist Parti de la Justice et du Développement (PJD), bringing in another partner, rather than elections being held early. As horse-trading continues among the political elite, with King Mohammed VI looking on, the most likely partner is a ‘loyalist’ party that finished a surprising third in the 2011 general election, the Rassemblement National des Indépendants (RNI).

Morocco
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The United States is no longer the global hyperpower, former colonial powers have lost their captive markets and China has emerged as an economic superpower in Africa but not yet a dominant global force. While geopolitical tectonic plates shift, African governments are being solicited by ever more potential allies, trading partners and investors. In an evolving marketplace for money and influence, China has set the bar very high by hosting grandiose triennial Sino-African summits, but others have big ambitions too.

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A recent trip abroad by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo sparked speculation among companies working in Equatorial Guinea that a coup was imminent. Rumours circulated of troop movements, which observers linked to the longstanding rivalry between energy and mines minister Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima and vice-president Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, known as Teodorín. However, in a 17 June interview, Obiang Lima told African Energy that his father had needed time off after the death of his half-brother Antonio Mba Nguema, minister of presidential security, in South Africa on 6 May.

Equatorial Guinea
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It was a long trip for most to get to Tokyo, but transparency campaigners and governance gurus were all over the mid-October International Monetary Fund/World Bank Group annual meetings, advocating more rigorous legislation to be drafted by resource-rich but fragile states, and mobilising help for smaller states to implement expensive new laws such as the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (Fatca)

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Changes of president in Luanda and Kinshasa have not so far delivered any progress in the long-running maritime border dispute between the two countries, but Congolese experts say they are hopeful of movement in the coming months to agree a common border and obtain United Nations approval for it.President Felix Tshisekedi has said he hopes to exploit deep-water oil resources to finance his development plans and fund his free education pledge.

DR Congo | Angola