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The government in Kinshasa is looking to impose President Joseph Kabila Kabange’s vision of how the world should do business with Democratic Republic of Congo, as it struggles to work with a pitifully small state budget, substandard governance and a woeful lack of human resources to meet huge demands for everything from basic health and education services to building transport, energy and other infrastructure almost from scratch

DR Congo

The new government named after last year’s violent general strike is keen to speed up the revision of oil and mining contracts, but is meeting resistance from President Conté’s inner circle, writes Our Conakry Correspondent.


Political decisions are likely to come thick and fast as a successor is chosen to Hailemariam Desalegn, who resigned on 15 February amid turbulent scenes across the country. The 180-member ruling council of the crisis-ridden Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), comprising 45 members from each of its four regional parties, has convened a three-day congress from 1 March to elect a new prime minister. Providing a degree of consensus can be maintained, this should be a set-piece event; the powerful EPRDF executive committee began deliberations on 26 February to hammer out a deal.


Zambia is under pressure to end fuel subsidies as a condition for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) aid package to help tackle a worsening financial crisis, though the proposals could face popular opposition in the aftermath of August’s highly divisive election. The country is expected to finalise a new IMF deal in December worth between $1.2bn and $1.5bn. Macroeconomic parameters are at some of their worst levels since donors forgave Zambia several billions of dollars of debt in 2005 under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative.


In one of his final acts as US president, Barack Obama issued an Executive Order on 13 January authorising “expanded trade with and investment in Sudan”, as well as outlining a route to permanently revoke US sanctions on the country in July this year. Sudan’s economy is crumbling under the multiple burdens of sanctions, a falling oil price, and, crucially, the loss of oil reserves and production to the new state of South Sudan. The roadmap outlined by President Obama offers a slight hope of a reversal in the sluggish fortunes of a frontier oil sector occupied largely by minnows.


The Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill has received cabinet approval and will shortly be presented to parliament, four years after it was first drafted. The new law, which will update the previous 1984 legislation, contains provisions for blocks to be awarded through open licensing rather than direct negotiation. There has been criticism of recent licence awards approved by parliament under a certificate of urgency before the bill becomes law (AE 274/15), but this has been dwarfed by a bizarre series of developments involving the Offshore Cape Three Points South licence.


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.


The party’s over in Juba following South Sudan’s independence day on 9 July, but the new, officially English-speaking state carved out of the Republic of Sudan remains under intense scrutiny, from international organisations and business groups, as well as from international oil companies which must come to terms with the region’s new political configuration (AE 213/1).

South Sudan

It is easy to forget that Côte d’Ivoire remains classed as a ‘fragile state’, when viewed from Abidjan’s refurbished hotels and burgeoning malls, many developed by long-established Lebanese families who are trading up from their traditional supermarkets. The African Development Bank’s return after 11 years in Tunis exile is one factor pushing up real estate prices and school fees in wealthier neighbourhoods.

Côte d'Ivoire
Issue 417 - 12 June 2020

Burundi leader dies


Burundi’s outgoing president, Pierre Nkurunziza, has died as he prepares to hand over power to a chosen successor. His cause of death on 9 June was officially stated as cardiac arrest, but his wife was reported to have been airlifted to a Nairobi hospital in May suffering from coronavirus symptoms. Nkurunziza, who was 55, had said Burundi was virtually unaffected by the pandemic, and elections went ahead on 20 May, with retired army general Evariste Ndayishimiye winning a majority.


Aspects of Dov Zerah’s appointment to head Agence Française de Développement (AFD) are controversial in domestic French political terms

Issue 352 - 11 August 2017

Resource curse reassessed


Professor Leif Wenar, who holds the chair of philosophy and law at King’s College London, has written an ambitious book seeking to address how to stop dictators profiting from the international oil trade. “It’s difficult to imagine being a Fair Trade consumer of oil,” he observes, before embarking on a highly readable analysis of how the rules that underpin the oil trade came to be, and how they can be changed.


President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s 11 June government reshuffle appointed Algeria’s fifth energy minister in six years, highlighting instability at the top of a vital but often poorly performing industry. By promoting Noureddine Bouterfa, president director-general (PDG) of state utility Sonelgaz since 2004, the presidency has placed one of the industry’s most seasoned campaigners in the hot seat.


The impact of coronavirus on construction and project completions was underlined by figures for Q1 2020 produced by African Energy Live Data and presented at a 6 July Africa Investment Exchange (AIX) webinar on Africa power negotiations. This showed that only 240MW of net installed capacity was added in Q1 2020 (as a total of 438MW was installed but several big rental contracts ended). If this performance continued across the year, there would be a historic low in the installation of new generation capacity.


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.