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Under immense pressure from the global spread of Covid-19 and plunging oil demand, governments and IOCs must once again fine-tune their strategies to meet hostile market conditions. This may mean not only delaying upstream projects but cancelling them altogether as, in the longer term, global markets shift out of carbon dependency.In the short term, efforts to revive the so-called Opec+ cooperation between Opec and non-Opec crude exporters should help to reverse the price slump, but the deal seems unlikely to raise prices to levels envisaged in producer governments’ 2020 budget forecasts.


The governments of South Africa and Germany on 22 February signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at enhancing bilateral dialogue and practical cooperation to develop sustainable energy infrastructure, particularly renewables and energy efficiency solutions.

South Africa

The announcement by interim President Abdelkader Bensalah that Algeria will not, after all, hold a presidential election on 4 July points to many more months of political unpredictability. Protests remain largely peaceful, but there is a growing prospect of turmoil as a ruling elite led by deputy defence minister and army chief of staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaïd Salah seeks to outflank a popular protest movement whose leadership remains defined by its anonymity.


President Joyce Banda’s efforts to woo private investors and repair ties with neighbouring countries are revitalising Malawi’s power sector, with a new coal-fired plant on the cards and the revival of plans for an interconnection with Mozambique, writes Thalia Griffiths. Australian private power developer Intra Energy has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government for a 120MW coal-fired power station at Chipoka, east of Lilongwe. Electricity generated will be sold to the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and other third parties under separate power purchase agreements and transmitted and distributed by Escom under a wheeling agreement.

Malawi | Tanzania
Issue 255 - 31 May 2013

Circle Oil: IFC funding


The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) is considering debt financing to fund the exploration and development of Circle Oil’s operated assets in Morocco and non-operated assets in Egypt and Tunisia. The loan proposal is due to go to the IFC board on 21 June. In its 2012 results announced on 13 May, Circle reported revenue of $73.3m, up 26% over 2011, and cash from operations of $39.3m, up 243% year on year, helped by increased production of Egyptian oil and Moroccan gas, higher market prices, and improved payment receipts from Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation. Libya Oil Holdings (LOH)’s 17.75% shareholding in Circle has been frozen since March 2011. Ahmed Kashadah, the head of the Libyan African Portfolio which owns LOH, has asked for the Portfolio’s assets to remain frozen as it is not ready to take on LOH’s management.

Egypt | Morocco | Tunisia

Another close contest has seen National Democratic Congress (NDC) President John Dramani Mahama narrowly shading victory over New Patriotic Party (NPP) rival Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in an election that should cement Ghana’s reputation as one of Africa’s most vibrant and responsible democracies. But growing questions over big-ticket investment projects, and rising tensions between the parties over the direction of oil revenues, mean the outlook is less comfortable than it may seem.


African oil explorers are rapidly revising budgets to take account of the latest market developments. Global oil demand is forecast to fall by 6m b/d in April as countries shut down in an attempt to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time, the collapse of Opec production cuts means countries led by Saudi Arabia are increasing output to try to preserve market share. West Africa-focused Kosmos Energy said on 17 March it would reduce its planned 2020 capital expenditure by about a third, suspending the dividend and working with BP to defer Phase 1 spending on the Greater Tortue LNG project offshore Mauritania and Senegal.

Issue 407 - 16 January 2020

Côte d’Ivoire in election mode


Ahead of Côte d’Ivoire’s October 2020 presidential election, the government is firmly focused on securing a win for President Alassane Dramane Ouattara’s Rassemblement des Houphouëtistes pour la Démocratie et la Paix (RHDP). For all the history-making import of the eco announcement, the visit by France’s President Emmanuel Macron in December was widely interpreted as being intended to show strong support for the incumbent president ahead of those polls, and shore up regional backing for France’s intervention in Mali and the wider conflict with jihadists in the Sahel, during a period when death tolls are rising sharply.

Côte d'Ivoire
Issue 249 - 28 February 2013

NNPC reform


A major ongoing concern for international oil companies (IOCs) is cash-strapped parastatal Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)’s continuing inability to fund its share of joint venture projects and its transformation into a national oil company (NOC). Shell Petroleum Development Company managing director and Shell Nigeria country chairman Mutiu Sunmonu said a lack of funding was constraining growth, and that the government needed “a new approach to funding” and to be “more flexible in its thinking”

Issue 396 - 12 July 2019

ICJ to hold border case hearings


The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will hold public hearings from 9 to 13 September in The Hague in a case brought by Somalia in 2014 over its maritime border with Kenya. The hearings follow written submissions to the court last year. Kenya initially said the ICJ should not rule on the case, arguing that the court was a last resort and bilateral talks had not been exhausted. However, the court decided in February 2017 that it did have jurisdiction to adjudicate on the dispute, and that Somalia’s application was admissible.

Kenya | Somalia

Speaking in Cape Town at the end of June, Barack Obama unveiled a new multi-billion dollar power initiative, Power Africa, aimed at doubling sub-Saharan access rates, boosting generation capacity by 10,000MW and connecting more than 20m households and businesses to the grid over the next five years. Under the scheme, the US government will provide $7bn of financial support, while a major private sector investment drive will pump an additional $9bn-worth of investment into African power projects. Power Africa has identified six initial partner countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania – all of which “have set ambitious goals in electric power generation and are making the utility and energy sector reforms to pave the way for investment and growth”, according to the White House. 

Kenya | Ghana | Nigeria | Ethiopia | Liberia | Tanzania

A newly published report entitled The Tracking: The Energy Progress Report 2019 shows that progress has been made towards meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Electricity access and renewable energy show particular promise, but progress in energy efficiency is limited and access to clean cooking has, in some cases, deteriorated in the face of rapidly expanding populations. The Tracking shows that populations across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) still face daunting challenges in gaining access to cleaner, more sustainable energy sources.


President Filipe Nyusi announced a major reshuffle on 4 March, with changes including the appointment of a new prime minister and a new mineral resources and energy minister.


Supporters of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara have described it as an act of realism which places Madrid at the top table of decision-makers. However, for other observers, the decision is puzzling.

Morocco | Western Sahara (under UN mandate)
Issue 451 - 03 December 2021

EAC membership beckons for DR Congo


The East African Community (EAC)’s Council of Ministers voted on 22 November to recommend Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s admission to the regional body at their 44th extraordinary meeting. Negotiations will follow before heads of state give their final approval to make DRC the bloc’s seventh member.

DR Congo