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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.

Free

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
Free

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.

Uganda
Free

African Union and European Union leaders met for the sixth EU-AU Summit in Brussels on 17-18 February, co-chaired by European Council president Charles Michel and AU’s Senegalese chairman President Macky Sall. It had been three years in the making – due to Covid and other delays – and, as with previous summits, there was talk of huge financial flows, boundless co-operation and commitments to a future of inclusive development.

Issue 457 - 25 March 2022

A Russian trade?

Subscriber

Both BP and Eni have been looking to offload their stakes in major Russian energy assets in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, with Algeria mooted as a potential buyer for one key project.

Algeria
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Commentators were stunned by Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23) leader General Bosco Ntaganda’s decision to leave his haunts in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, presenting himself on 18 March at the US embassy in Kigali, where he asked to be transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. For Ntaganda, apparently, the prospect of facing trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity is preferable to continuing his conflict with President Joseph Kabila Kabange’s administration in Kinshasa or facing the wrath of his former Rwandan ally President Paul Kagame. The warlord’s move prompted speculation that an elusive peace deal between the DRC government and M23 might be forthcoming. However, peace with M23 provides no guarantee that DRC’s oil sector can quickly fulfil its promise.

Congo Brazzaville
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Ongoing squabbles between backers of Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and Power Market Limited (PML) have paralysed the development of the power sector in Malawi, according to developers. Although PML started operations in 2020 and nominally took over the single buyer role last year, Escom still controls the bulk transaction and stabilisation account for the sector, often referred to as the master accounts. This gives it a high level of de facto control over the sector, including offtake agreements.

Malawi
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Political change via the ballot box in Zambia has been widely welcomed. The focus for newly-elected President Hakainde Hichilema is to aggressively restructure government debt and fight corruption to spur economic development in a significant about-turn from the outgoing Lungu administration. If successful, this could provide headroom for social spending and help to restore donor and investor confidence, writes Chiwoyu Sinyangwe in Lusaka and African Energy staff.

Zambia
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Algeria can be a difficult jurisdiction, but Sonatrach’s termination of the Isarène E&P contract may not just be driven by aggressive resource nationalism, writes John Hamilton.

Algeria
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A mid-January agreement between Sudan and South Sudan to expand oil cooperation has raised expectations of improved relations yielding material benefits for both states from the south’s under-utilised hydrocarbons reserves. But familiar obstacles are blocking progress, writes James Gavin.

South Sudan | Sudan
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ZETDC has been taken to arbitration by developer NRE in a dispute over US dollar payments, in a case with significant implications for the country’s struggling power sector and which also highlights the macroeconomic problems weighing on the Mnangagwa administration, writes Marc Howard

Zimbabwe
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The sacking of petroleum, energy and renewable energy minister Thierry Tanoh, formally announced on 10 December, was not unexpected. Tanoh had been in conflict with powerful players, notably influential presidential adviser and former minister Adama Toungara, over a planned audit of the sector, further reforms and project developments. The former banker had also clashed with Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, who was lobbying President Alassane Dramane Ouattara to sack the minister.

Côte d'Ivoire
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Libya’s independent national audit authority has cancelled two power plant construction contracts worth $700m awarded by General Electric Company of Libya (Gecol) to Siemens and Turkey’s Enka Teknik in December because of irregularities in both the financing and the tender. African Energy understands that a powerful Tripoli-based militia may also have threatened violence to prevent the financing documents from being signed.

Libya
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Greek company Mytilineos signed an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract with General Electricity Company of Libya (Gecol) for a new dual-fuel power plant in Tobruk to be built by its Metka unit. The agreement was signed in Tripoli on 27 September. One of the most important questions over the realisation of the 650MW open-cycle plant is whether Tripoli-based Gecol will be able to reliably finance and manage a large and expensive infrastructure project in eastern Libya while its authority is being continually challenged by an alternative power company based in the Cyrenaica city of Al-Baida.

Libya
Subscriber

A series of petty disputes involving tribes and militias in western Libya have threatened National Oil Corporation (NOC)’s ambitions to maintain or even increase oil output, which peaked at 1.1m b/d in early August. The challenge facing chairman Mustafa Sanalla is that armed groups who have carried out blockades and actions against oil and gas facilities in recent months are outside the control of any single authority.

Libya