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Equatorial Guinea has signalled that an agreement with Gazprom, Lukoil and Rosneft could emerge from the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi on 23-24 October. A Russian news report, retweeted by minister of mines and hydrocarbons Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, quoted the minister as saying the Equatorial Guinea delegation, to be led by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, would not come to the summit “empty-handed”.

Equatorial Guinea
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President George Weah on 16 October signed into law the amended Petroleum Act of 2019, which aims to update the 2014 law as part of efforts to revive offshore oil and gas exploration. The law increases block sizes to a maximum of 3,500km2, from 2,000km2 previously. National Oil Company of Liberia (Nocal) is working with TGS-Nopec to re-draw the blocks. The re-sized blocks will align with the Global Grid System as mandated by the Economic Community of West African States for its members, Nocal said.

Liberia
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Colonel Mamady Doumbouya’s cabinet has been presented by his regime as bringing technocrats into key positions to improve the government’s performance, but critics say ministers are either too ‘apolitical’ to enact genuine change, or compromised by past business dealings. A strong signal comes with the presidency taking direct control of major state assets from other public sector bodies, write David Slater, Jon Marks and our Special Correspondent

Guinea
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Democratic Republic of Congo has the resources – if not yet the right governance framework – to help meet rising global demand for rare earth minerals. China has so far made much of the running with such resources, prompting economic and strategic concern in the US and Europe where DRC’s potential has not gone unnoticed, writes François Misser.

DR Congo
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The government has promised to pay $1.5bn of the $6bn it says it owes oil firms in an effort to revive investor confidence and boost investment in the energy sector. “There is approval to pay $1.5bn,” interim prime minister Hazem El-Beblawi told a business conference in Cairo on 4 December aimed at attracting investment from Gulf states. While oil companies remain undeterred by Egypt’s political upheavals, stressing that both onshore and offshore operations are unaffected, they are suffering a growing financial burden from unpaid arrears owed to them by Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation and its subsidiaries.

Egypt
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The Hichilema government says it wants to resolve the long-running dispute between Zesco and CEC, but the duelling companies continue to operate in parallel universes of competing claims around tariffs and arrears, while state miners’ financial shortfalls add to problems, write Dan Marks and Chiwoyu Sinyangwe.

Zambia
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President Tshisekedi’s successes in outflanking his powerful predecessor Joseph Kabila gives hope that a more inclusive economic recovery is possible. But while investors look again at opportunities around the vast country, and the president has high hopes for mega solar schemes and Grand Inga, DRC remains problematic, write Jon Marks and François Misser.

DR Congo
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Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed is set to claim beefed-up powers under a new authoritarian constitution, via a referendum planned for 25 July. That may allow for progress on long-delayed renewable power projects, but his critics say the president has not prepared the population for some tough measures that are needed to prevent economic collapse, as state budgets are squeezed and unemployment and inflation increase.

Tunisia
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As African Energy editor Thalia Griffiths leaves to explore new opportunities, colleagues asked for her take on developments after 23 years leading the publication. For all the tragedies like the current Ethiopian conflict, she sees real hope for a better future on a continent where, in many places, governance has improved and previously marginalised populations are becoming empowered to enact positive change.

Ghana | Mozambique | South Sudan | Angola | Nigeria | Uganda
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The Nigerian government is caught between a rock and a hard place as it tries to square the need to reduce subsidies to the electricity sector with protecting customers and the economy from price rises when they are already hard hit by Covid-19. Distribution companies (discos) are absorbing substantial losses due to reductions in industrial demand and challenges protecting revenue through disconnections and meter inspections. However, there is some confidence that the sector continues to move in the right direction, with enthusiasm about better collaboration between stakeholders and initiatives for franchises within existing disco boundaries.

Nigeria
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The coronavirus pandemic has so far been characterised by the dramatic speed of infection and a rapid escalation of policy responses by governments. While Africa has so far been less affected than Europe, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on 23 March announced a 21-day lockdown to begin on 26 March, and it is likely that many more countries will follow. The continent has had at least 2,000 recorded cases, mostly among people travelling from Europe, and almost certainly many more in reality.

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The pledge by China’s President Xi Jinping to end state financing of overseas coal projects – with huge ramifications for several coal-producing and importing countries – set off a lively debate about its possible ramifications. Fears about the consequence for Africa may have been overstated, according to one industry figure who responded to African Energy’s article.

Kenya | Botswana | South Africa
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There was an unexpected frisson around the packed conference hall in Hamburg when, on 4 May, following the usual bullish opening remarks by senior German officials promoting renewable energy options, Ghanaian power minister Kwabena Donkor proposed an alternative strategy to meet his country’s 12% annual electricity demand growth while driving industrial development. Under heavy pressure over catastrophic power cuts, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government has decided to give priority to building coal-fired plants, to be supported by combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plants supplied by imported gas.

Ghana
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The announcement on 22 September of an inter-governmental agreement between South Africa and Russia on strategic partnership and co-operation in nuclear energy and industry has been greeted with bemusement by South Africans. The agreement was signed by South African energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and the director-general of Russia’s state atomic energy corporation Rosatom, Sergey Kirienko, at the 58th general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.“The agreement lays the foundation for the large-scale nuclear power plant (NPP) procurement and development programme of South Africa based on the construction in RSA of new nuclear power plants with Russian VVER reactors with total installed capacity of up to 9.6GW (up to 8 NPP units),” said a joint statement published on the Department of Energy and Rosatom websites.

South Africa
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The European Union intends to support The Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) mission in Cabo Delgado with an amount equivalent to the €15m ($15m) that the European Council recently committed to the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (Samim), EU high representative Josep Borrell said in Maputo on 8 September.

Mozambique | Rwanda