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President Denis Sassou Nguesso confirmed on 23 January that he would seek a fourth consecutive mandate when elections are held on 21 March. The 77-year-old president will again stand as candidate of the ruling Parti Congolais du Travail. Before then Sassou is hoping for progress with Brazzaville’s International Monetary Fund-led debt restructuring, agreed in 2019 but still incomplete.

DR Congo
Issue 423 - 24 September 2020

Libya: A deal without accountability

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The Maetig-Haftar deal addresses a number of vital economic issues which previous attempts at compromise have failed to touch on. However, it leaves huge political questions unanswered.

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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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Pressures on utilities and other state-owned enterprises will be a greater feature in the 2020s than in earlier debt crises. Reforms to the continent’s largest energy enterprises, Eskom and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, are integral to their macroeconomies emerging stronger. Unravelling the problems of malfunctioning parastatals in economies from Ghana to Madagascar already play a central role in governments’ reform commitments. Madagascan utility Jiro sy Rany Malagasy (Jirama) has attracted considerable funds to support its reform.

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The government is considering various options to increase the capital of Rwanda Energy Group (REG) in order to finance planned infrastructure development. Corporate communications adviser Prosper Mubera Birori told African Energy one possibility was to bring in a strategic investor who would acquire an equity stake in the group as a whole, or in REG’s Energy Utility Corporation Limited (EUCL) subsidiary, which is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the existing generation plants, the transmission and distribution network, and selling electricity to end-users.

Rwanda
Issue 380 - 08 November 2018

Moroccan budget woes drive asset sale

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Recently appointed finance minister Mohammed Benchaâboun is tackling Morocco’s burgeoning budget deficit with reforms that some local observers are calling Thatcherite. The former banker expects to raise funds by divesting the state’s remaining saleable assets, with major privatisations for the first time in a decade.

Morocco
Issue 380 - 08 November 2018

Sudan: Lundin could face fine

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Lundin Petroleum said on 1 November that it had been notified by the Swedish Prosecution Authority that the company could face fines in connection with the preliminary investigation into its operations in Sudan. The Swedish government in October authorised the country’s prosecution authority to proceed with an indictment against Lundin Petroleum chairman Ian Lundin and chief executive Alex Schneiter over alleged complicity in war crimes in Sudan.

Sudan
Issue 379 - 26 October 2018

Trump builds up US DFI

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Despite President Donald Trump’s election promises to dismantle the US’ development institutions, his administration has created the US International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC) as part of a strategy to strengthen the country’s ability to win contracts and counter Chinese and other expansion in Africa, Asia and the Americas. Its creation was passed by Congress with bipartisan support in the early October Better Utilisation of Investments Leading to Development (Build) Act vote and quietly signed into law by Trump.

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Libya’s independent national audit authority has cancelled two power plant construction contracts worth $700m awarded by General Electric Company of Libya (Gecol) to Siemens and Turkey’s Enka Teknik in December because of irregularities in both the financing and the tender. African Energy understands that a powerful Tripoli-based militia may also have threatened violence to prevent the financing documents from being signed.

Libya
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With the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, the EU loses arguably its most stalwart supporter of free trade, both with third countries as well as the European single market, which former prime minister Margaret Thatcher did so much to promote. This could have a long-term impact on how the EU does business with its southern partners. It also suggests the direction the UK will take as it seeks to consolidate markets in the Commonwealth – a favourite focus for Leave campaigners – and the wider Global South.

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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A group of bureaucrats and politicians in the planning, works, energy and finance ministries stand accused of manipulating the state’s policy and procurement procedures since 2012 to steer control of the energy sector into the arms of Xaris Energy, a company closely linked to the ruling Swapo party. Xaris is partly owned by Swapo secretary-general Nangolo Mbumba, who holds a direct interest via his AMA Family Trust, according to an investigation into the N$7.4bn ($554m) expansion of Walvis Bay harbour.

Namibia
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The governments of Sudan and South Sudan have agreed to renegotiate the terms under which Juba exports its oil, according to officials from the two countries. Transit fees of almost $25/bbl, combined with the drop in the global oil price and the discount at which Dar Blend crude trades, meant that South Sudan faced selling its oil at a loss. Output dropped sharply, heralding a possible shutdown and requiring an urgent renegotiation of transit terms.

South Sudan
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Angola’s government is running short of money just as the issue of who might succeed President José Eduardo dos Santos again comes under discussion. The president raised eyebrows in early July when he said he intended to see out his term of office, and there has been increased repression of government opponents. At the same time, a leaked memo from Sonangol chairman Francisco de Lemos José Maria has sharply criticised the legacy of his predecessor Manuel Vicente, now Angolan vice-president, and spelled out the problems facing the company.

Angola
Free

President Xi Jingping’s call for China-Africa trade to exceed $400bn by 2020, with infrastructure investment a priority in driving that exponential increase, is a realistic target as ever more Chinese companies explore the continent’s markets. China Inc made a spectacular return to African business in the last decade, with bilateral trade rising from $10bn in 2000 to $210bn in 2013 – an increase many times greater than even optimists in the Beijing government had planned. Officials and company executives in Beijing often comment that things have not always gone as smoothly for China Inc as envious business rivals might think.