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UN-sponsored Radio Okapi reported on 5 February that the International Court of Arbitration of the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce had declared that the government’s cancellation of an exploration agreement with the local Générale Pétrolière du Congo (Gepeco) was “faulty, ineffective and unfounded”. Gepeco signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on 12 October 2011 for oil exploration in the Tanganyika Graben. The government cancelled the MoU without warning in April 2012, and Gepeco took the case to the court in November 2013.

DR Congo

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.

Issue 413 - 17 April 2020

Power Africa: New acting coordinator


Mark Carrato has been named as Power Africa acting coordinator, replacing Andrew Herscowitz, who moved in February to become chief development officer at the new US International Development Finance Corporation. Herscowitz had headed up Power Africa since its launch in 2013. Carrato most recently led the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Office for Central American and Mexican Affairs and had previously worked with USAID in Kenya and Ethiopia.

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.

Issue 275 - 15 April 2014

SBM: Internal investigation findings


Netherlands-based oil services company SBM Offshore on 2 April released the findings of an internal investigation of the company’s use of agents. The investigation, carried out by independent external counsel and forensic accountants (Paul Hastings LLP, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP) starting in Q1 2012, found that SBM paid some $200m in commission to agents during the period 2007 to 2011: $18.8m to Equatorial Guinea, $22.7m to Angola and $139.1m to Brazil. “In respect of Angola and Equatorial Guinea there is some evidence that payments may have been made directly or indirectly to government officials,” the company said.


Bowleven has urged its shareholders to oppose efforts by Monaco-based investor Crown Ocean Capital (COC) to take control of the company. COC, which has increased its stake to 15.56%, wants to replace the board and turn Bowleven into a holding company focused on returning cash to shareholders (AE 339/15).“COC’s intent is to take control of Bowleven without paying fair value, and it has no credible strategy to maximise the value from the company’s key assets, Etinde and Bomono,” Bowleven said on 8 February.


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.

Issue 254 - 17 May 2013

Namibia: Teckla Lameck trial


The High Court trial of former public service commissioner Teckla Lameck, her business partner Kongo Mokaxwa and Chinese national Yang Fan is under way in Windhoek. Lameck, sometimes with her husband Festus, was a co-investor with middleman Knowledge Katti in local oil companies such as Kunene Petroleum, Kunene Energy, Namibia Industrial Development Group and Beehive Investments. Lameck, Mokaxwa and Fan are accused of defrauding the Ministry of Finance through the supply of Chinese X-ray equipment to local customs authorities.

Issue 293 - 29 January 2015

Tanzania scandal claims new victim


The Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL) scandal has claimed another victim with the resignation of energy and minerals minister Sospeter Muhongo, the third cabinet minister to go since the latest round of allegations emerged late last year. In December, attorney-general Frederick Werema resigned and President Jakaya Kikwete sacked lands minister Anna Tibaijuka for accepting almost $1m from an IPTL shareholder.In late November, a report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by outspoken MP Zitto Kabwe called for Muhongo and prime minister Mizengo Pinda to resign.


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.


Oilfield services company Snamprogetti Netherlands has accepted a charge from the African Development Bank (AfDB) of corrupt practices by affiliated companies related to the Bonny Island liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Nigeria between 1995 and 2004. Under the terms of the negotiated resolution agreement, Snamprogetti will pay $5.7m in fines, to be used to support AfDB anti-corruption projects. Snamprogetti Netherlands was owned at the time by Milan-based Snamprogetti SpA, which was owned by oil major Eni. The company is now owned by Saipem, whose shares are 43% held by Eni. However, Saipem was indemnified by Eni for losses relating to these charges as part of the 2006 deal which transferred Snamprogetti.


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.


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 256 - 14 June 2013

Senegal: DP World


Dubai’s DP World chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem met President Macky Sall on 6 June to discuss the company’s Dakar port project. A DP World statement said that Sall had assured the chairman that DP World’s investment was “welcomed and protected”. DP World Dakar obtained a 25-year concession in 2010 to operate container terminals at Dakar port and invest in their modernisation.


The management of National Oil Corporation (NOC) based in the eastern Libyan town of Al-Bayda has suspended its attempts to sell oil independently from the established NOC management in Tripoli since the United Nations (UN)-backed Presidency Council led by Faiz Serraj moved to the capital. But the legitimacy of what the UN and its backers say is now the recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) is far from established. The dominant power brokers in Cyrenaica are still negotiating the terms of their endorsement of the new administration. Without their support it will be constitutionally weak, and failure to agree will start a new conflict over control of Sirte Basin oil infrastructure.