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One region seems above all others to stubbornly buck the positive political and economic trends recorded over two decades by African Energy: it comprises the six Communauté Economique et Monétaire de l’Afrique Centrale (Cemac) countries and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Events in the last month, including a failed coup in Gabon and contested elections in DRC, underline Central Africa’s chronic crisis of leadership. Such political behaviours are increasingly seen as an anachronism in a world structured by social media, as well as by older social bonds and traditional patterns of coercion by elites.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his State of the Nation address on 7 February that “Eskom is in crisis and the risks it poses to South Africa are great”, a point emphasised when stage 4 load-shedding – meaning that more than 4GW was cut from the grid – was implemented a few days later. Ramaphosa said that unless a new business model was found for the utility, South Africa would face the same problem again and again.

South Africa
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While the $2bn-plus ‘tuna bonds’ scandal rumbles on in international courts, Mozambique’s reputation has generally been boosted on President Filipe Nyusi’s watch. The authorities have coped relatively effectively with crises like Cyclone Idai and in ending armed conflict with Renamo, while the Rovuma Basin gas developments could transform the economy by the mid-2020s. An impressive upturn in internationally financed solar and other projects underlines Mozambique’s emergence as a hub in the global energy transition, aided by the hard work of committed local officials.

Mozambique
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José Eduardo dos Santos has retired from the presidency – if not from heading the ruling Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA) – but his family and allies retain a dominant hold over the Angolan economy, in a web of relationships that anti-corruption activists believe will persist despite João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço’s election. Portuguese Socialist member of the European Parliament Ana Maria Gomes on 7 September hosted prominent Angolan activist Rafael Marques in Brussels, where he made waves with his detailed criticism of contracts awarded for the 2,172MW Caculo Cabaça dam to companies linked to the former president’s daughter Isabel dos Santos.

Angola
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The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has widened its remit from a focus on war crimes to include land grabs and environmental destruction. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on 14 September published a policy paper setting out how the Office of the Prosecutor exercises its discretion in the selection and prioritisation of cases. The Rome Statute establishing the ICC stated four core international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression, and states that its aim is to combat impunity and prevent the recurrence of violence, in conjunction with national jurisdictions.

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The annual Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index presents a largely gloomy picture for sub-Saharan Africa, with only eight of 49 countries scoring more than 43 out of 100 on the 2018 index published on 29 January. With an average score of just 32, it is the lowest scoring region on the index, followed closely by Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with an average score of 35.

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The return of controversial executives Matshela Koko and Prish Govender to national utility Eskom was greeted with dismay by civil society organisations and condemned by opposition parties. Governance issues at the utility, coupled with failure to publish interim results, are making it difficult for Eskom to raise money amid concerns that the utility is running out of cash. Failure to publish results could result in the suspension of Eskom bonds on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

South Africa
Issue 340 - 16 February 2017

Trump repeals disclosure rule

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Transparency campaigners have condemned President Donald Trump’s use of the Congressional Review Act to repeal a rule obliging energy and mining companies to disclose payments they make abroad (AE 339/18). Signing his first piece of legislation, Trump repealed the Cardin-Lugar rule, part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. ExxonMobil and its former chief executive Rex Tillerson, now Trump’s secretary of state, had lobbied against the rule, but similar regulations have been introduced in several other global markets since then.

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Sable Mining is to cancel its AIM listing and take the company private after a series of factors including the lower iron ore price and a Global Witness investigation depressed its share price. The cancellation takes effect from 17 October.Sable’s main asset is the Nimba iron ore project in south-east Guinea. Sentiment has been affected by political instability in Guinea, the Ebola epidemic and low iron ore prices, as well as what Sable described as “unpredictability of legal systems together with unsubstantiated and irresponsible allegations and adverse press speculation”.

Guinea | Liberia
Issue 341 - 02 March 2017

Rosneft in Algeria

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The Russians may be coming, but what will they do when they arrive? While Rosneft is advancing in Libya and Egypt, it is retreating in Algeria, demonstrating that the use of geopolitical leverage to advance commercial deals – or vice versa – is not guaranteed to succeed. On 9 January, the Moscow-based daily Kommersant cited a source who claimed that the company was attempting to sell its 50% stake in the Gara Tesselit (245 South) perimeter to Sonatrach.

Algeria
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The government has agreed to rebundle all Zesa group companies into one company as part of its public sector enterprise reform programme. A cabinet meeting on 5 February resolved to merge the units into a single integrated company. Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the Electricity Act would be amended to take account of the new structure, while a consultant is being sought to advise the government on the best structure for the rebundled utility.

Zimbabwe
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Bids submitted in September 2016 by Spanish-led and Chinese groups to build the Inga 3 hydropower dam have yet to be opened, well-placed sources in Kinshasa told African Energy. There is speculation that the government might support moves for the two consortia to work together, as has been suggested by Agence pour le Développement et la Promotion de Grand Inga head Bruno Kapandji Kalala, the official charged by President Joseph Kabila Kabange to deliver the project

DR Congo
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The Supreme Court of Justice has ruled in favour of Kivu Lake Energy Corporation (KLEC) in its case against the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the prime minister and the Ministry of Hydrocarbons. On 27 July, it ordered the suspension of the ministry’s provisional award of a concession for exploitation of Lake Kivu’s methane resources to a consortium of Tunisia’s Engineering Procurement & Project Management (EPPM), Swede Energy DRC and Kenya’s TransCentury. A final decision on KLEC’s application for the definitive annulment of the award is still pending.

DR Congo
Issue 435 - 25 March 2021

Arbitration goes badly for Ghana

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The Government of Ghana (GoG) is under fire as details emerge of a costly arbitral ruling over an emergency purchase agreement (EPA) signed with Ghana Power Generation Company (GPGC), which in 2015 procured two GE LM 6000 combined cycle power plants in Italy to supply 107MW at Aboadze.

Ghana
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The South African parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises inquiry into state-owned enterprises (SOEs) has in recent weeks heard damning testimony from top executives at both Eskom and corporate vehicles controlled by the notorious Gupta brothers, in particular Trillian Capital Partners. On 7 November, former Eskom chief executive Tshediso Matona, who was appointed in October 2014 from the Department of Public Enterprises following a long-drawn-out search and was later suspended on contested grounds, told the committee that Eskom, and the board in particular, was in disarray when he arrived.

South Africa