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The scale of the challenges facing Kenya Power has been highlighted by the release of its results for the past two years. The utility has been hard hit by Covid-19, with demand dropping while arrears soared, but its finances were struggling long before the pandemic struck, writes Dan Marks.


Preparations to award exploration licences in early 2021 are facing disruption as political tensions resurface ahead of presidential elections set for 8 February. Disputes between the federal government and the regions are far from resolved, and new oil institutions may not be able to withstand political realities, writes James Gavin.  


An unusually bitter spat between National Oil Corporation and the central bank over the value of oil revenues earned during 2020 is the most public manifestation of the new realignment in Libyan politics. At stake is the question of who will control the nation’s finances over the next year while preparations are put in place for new elections, writes John Hamilton.

Issue 429 - 17 December 2020

US to require ownership disclosure


In a major victory for transparency campaigners, the US Congress has passed a groundbreaking measure to ban anonymous shell companies by a veto-proof majority. The Corporate Transparency Act, which was tacked on to the annual National Defense Authorization Act, will oblige corporations and limited liability companies established in the United States to disclose their real owners to the US Treasury Department.


The jailing of former President Jacob Zuma for contempt of court on 7 July came at an unfortunate moment for South Africa. Pent up frustration following a year of economic hardship due to tough Covid-19 restrictions as well as upcoming local elections and public sector wage negotiations – both historically associated with angry protests – added an edge to demonstrations that was exploited by political and criminal groups.

South Africa

The withdrawal of US development institutions from Ethiopia after sanctions were imposed has unnerved investors who worry others might follow and, although old hands suspect Addis Ababa will muddle through, Tigray remains stalked by famine as the Horn’s latest conflict drags on, write Dan Marks and Marc Howard.


The Tanzanian government is pressing ahead with large-scale renewable energy projects, in particular the controversial 2.1GW Julius Nyerere dam, alongside a state-owned solar project and donor-backed transmission and distribution initiatives.


After years of delay, the Petroleum Industry Bill has finally been approved by Nigeria’s parliament – albeit in different versions by the National Assembly’s two chambers. It promises substantial benefits for gas and other under-performing hydrocarbons-based industries and reforms to areas of government in profound need of overhaul. The critical question remains whether the bill is enough to galvanise the economy and industry when implementation could take many years, write Jon Marks and Ajay Ubhi


Energy minister Newton Kambala was fired by President Lazarus Chakwera on 11 August, following his appearance at Lilongwe Magistrates Court on graft charges. Kambala had been arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) two days earlier.


In the last ten years, Zambia has witnessed a number of disputes in the power sector, the bulk of which have revolved around utility Zesco. Under the new administration, the situation could become clearer – and more encouraging for investors.


Alarm over the government’s emergency process for sourcing medical equipment last year in response to the Covid-19 pandemic showed that concerns over Mauritian procurement practices were not limited to major power schemes.


The island’s ‘Saint Louis Gate’ power procurement scandal and other corruption enquiries, plus the government’s loss of a petroleum supply arbitration appeal, highlight the potential pitfalls of doing business in Africa’s most highly rated economy, writes Marc Howard.


Guinea has world-scale iron ore, bauxite and other mineral resources, as media reports quickly reminded their consumers when news came in on Sunday 5 September that an imposing-looking putschist, Groupement des Forces Spéciales (GPS) commander Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, had seized power in Conakry.


The Moroccan electorate delivered a crushing blow to the Parti de la Justice et du Développement (PJD) on 8 September, as the ‘moderate Islamist’ party, which has led the government since 2011, won just 12 of the 395 seats in the House of Representatives (lower house of parliament). With a small number of votes still to be counted as African Energy went to press, the likely outcome was a new coalition led by overtly pro-business parties with close ties to the palace.


The announcement that ArcelorMittal had finally agreed with President George Weah’s government to expand the Luxembourg-based steelmaker’s iron mining and logistics operations in Liberia was especially ill-timed for Conakry, coming days after Colonel Mamady Doumbouya’s coup d’état, which removed President Alpha Condé.

Guinea | Liberia