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Issue 420 - 24 July 2020

UK: MPs criticise DfID/FCO merger

Subscriber

The UK parliament’s International Development Committee has attacked the government’s decision to merge the Department for International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The decision, taken while a review of post-Brexit arrangements was in its early stages, was “flawed on a number of grounds”, the MPs said in a report on 16 July. This put into question the future quality of UK aid, which totalled £15.2bn ($19.4bn) in 2019.

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Criticism in the local press and among officials and trade unions of State Assets (Portefeuille) Minister Jeannine Mabunda Lioko Mudiayi shows the arch reformer in President Joseph Kabila Kabange’s government coming under a range of pressures as parastatals struggle to meet her stringent demands for reform,

DR Congo
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The return of Brian Molefe as Eskom chief executive was met with cheers at Megawatt Park but consternation by his many critics. Molefe resigned in November after damaging findings by public protector Thuli Madonsela in her report on state capture about his relationship with the controversial Gupta family. Since then, Molefe has been elected as an MP, amid rumours of a failed attempt by President Jacob Zuma to appoint him as finance minister.

South Africa
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A formal apology over a US State Department spokesman’s comments fails to quell anger at National Oil Corporation as its chairman threatens to favour China and Russia.

Libya
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Driving renewable energy projects forward in Libya and Algeria will be difficult for the foreseeable future. Neither country is yet close to having the necessary legislation in place to enable serious progress towards shifting power generation away from hydrocarbons. But in spite of this a number of deals are moving forwards and European governments are pushing hard to open opportunities for investment. Over the past month the UK government has supported events in both Algiers and Tripoli intended to promote opportunities for businesses to access renewable energy projects.

Libya | Algeria
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Eskom declared a power supply emergency during peak demand hours on 20 and 21 February, allowing the utility to compel key energy intensive customers to reduce power consumption by 10%. Although Eskom published a provisional load shedding schedule, managed blackouts were avoided following a 1,000MW reduction in demand by customers, including at least 200MW of voluntary savings by commercial and residential customers. The other 800MW was mostly reductions from industrial consumers, particularly members of the Energy Intensive User Group. Eskom declared a similar emergency in November last year.

South Africa
Free

Another year and thoughts turn to the potentials – be they 39GW, 44GW or 50GW – of the Congo River’s Inga hydroelectric resource, or of oil plays in the Albertine Graben, where Tullow Oil’s Ugandan field on the other side of the lacustrine border will come on stream this year

DR Congo
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Disputed territories of Sool and eastern Sanag included in Somaliland elections with the hope of achieving a more peaceful resolution to the border dispute

Somalia
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Davis Chirchir, a computer scientist and staunch ally of deputy president William Ruto, has been confirmed as minister for energy and petroleum, replacing Meru County senator Kiraitu Murungi. Chirchir has no experience in the energy sector. He co-ordinated the unbundling of state-owned Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation in 1999, from which Telekom Kenya was formed, and managed the establishment of mobile service provider Safaricom.

Kenya
Free

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.

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Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) says energy minister Matthew Nkhuwa acted beyond his authority by declaring its transmission network common carrier to allow government-controlled Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to continue receiving power supply despite a year of failing to pay its bills. CEC is seeking to overturn the statutory instrument (SI) issued by Nkhuwa on 29 May declaring CEC’s network common carrier.

Free

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.

Sudan
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The Electricity Control Board (ECB) has rejected an application by NamPower to increase effective bulk tariffs for 2020-21 by 3.9%, an increase from N$1.65 ($0.11)/kWh to N$1.71/kWh. The ECB said it had especially considered the impact of the coronavirus pandemic when deciding that tariffs should not change. “In order to mitigate the impact of the tariff on consumers and the economy, especially during times when the economy is struggling, the ECB allowed an amount of N$50m from the Long Run Marginal Cost fund.

Namibia
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The Belgian Chamber of Representatives, the lower house of the Federal Parliament, is expected to vote on a resolution on 6 December urging the government to consider sanctions against Total and SOCO International if they violate a United Nations ban on oil exploration in the Virunga National Park.

DR Congo
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The 40th anniversary of Muammar Qadhafi’s Fatah Revolution will confirm the regime’s hold on power and ability to shape Libya’s direction. Changes are anticipated to the way the political system operates, but more important still may be shifts in the pecking order within the first family, writes Jon Marks

Libya