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France’s Veolia, the main shareholder in Société d’Énergie et d’Eau du Gabon (Seeg), has started negotiations with the government for an extension of its concession contract, which expires in 2017. Under the contract, signed in 1997, Seeg has a monopoly of power transmission and distribution and is the main player in generation.The last round of negotiations took place in Libreville on 20 May between energy and water resources minister Désiré Guedon and Seeg board chairman Patrice Fonlladosa. Seeg’s turnover rose by 6.7% in 2014, from CFAF182bn ($309.4m) to CFAF195bn, and the company reported a CFAF6.2bn profit.

Gabon
Issue 284 - 12 September 2014

SNC-Lavalin: Riadh Ben Aissa plea deal

Subscriber

Former SNC-Lavalin executive Riadh Ben Aissa in August signed a plea deal in Switzerland that could lead to his extradition to Canada, where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have charges against him (AE 271/20, 253/25, 249/20). He is also facing charges for money laundering, fraud and corruption in Switzerland, where he has been held since his 2012 arrest. Ben Aissa is tied to some $160m in bribes paid to Saadi Qadhafi, son of the late Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi, in exchange for contracts. Ben Aissa is also alleged to have been part of a plan to smuggle Saadi out of Libya.

Subscriber

The World Bank Group (WBG) on 22 August debarred Slovenia’s Flycom for making corrupt payments in connection with a project in Democratic Republic of Congo. The infrastructure services company was debarred for 18 months from working for the WBG and four other major multilaterals for engaging in corrupt practices linked to the Southern Africa Power Market Project.

DR Congo
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Local community groups have reached agreement with the developers of the Kinangop wind park in the Rift Valley following the latest protests over compensation and health risks. Since construction of the 60.8MW project began in July last year, Kinangop’s development has been dogged by protests from local people who say they were not properly consulted over the project development and that compensation provisions are insufficient.

Kenya
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Former Gabon Oil Company (GOC) director-general Christian Patrichi Tanasa Mbadinga, appeared before the Cour Criminelle Spéciale (CCS) in Libreville on 21 March, charged with misappropriating FCFA85bn ($143m) from the state oil company.

Gabon
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The World Bank Group (WBG) has said it will develop “a new approach” to assessing the business and investment climate of countries around the world, following the decision to cancel its annual Doing Business report after an investigation had shown that the rankings of China and other powerful players had been artificially boosted.

Subscriber

Energy minister Davis Chirchir has stepped down while anti-corruption officials investigate allegations against him. The self-imposed suspension followed a 26 March speech by President Uhuru Kenyatta, who asked officials named in an Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) probe to step down. On 9 April, Chirchir was questioned by the EACC. He has denied any wrongdoing. The EACC alleges that Chirchir used his influence to push for China’s Sinopec to be awarded a Sh43bn ($462m) contract by the Kenya Pipeline Company last year ahead of Lebanese company Zakheem International.

Kenya
Free

US President Donald Trump is committed to delivering his campaign promises to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and stop funding for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Speaking at a press briefing in London on 30 January, Myron Ebell, who oversaw the Environmental Protection Agency transition team but has returned to his role as a director at the Center for Energy and Environment, said Trump was aiming to leverage US coal and shale resources to achieve “global dominance” in energy supply.

Free

Johannesburg utility City Power has been cleared of all allegations of fraud and corruption relating to a tender awarded to Edison Power Group for advanced metering infrastructure in 2012. An independent review panel chaired by Vuyani Ngalwana concluded that they could find “no evidence of improper interference in the bid evaluation process” and “no evidence of irregularity in the award of [the] contract”.

South Africa
Issue 365 - 15 March 2018

BSGR in voluntary administration

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Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz’s mining company BSG Resources (BSGR) has voluntarily entered administration to protect it from legal disputes related to the Simandou project in Guinea. Business advisory firm BDO said the Royal Court of Guernsey had appointed two of its representatives as joint administrators on 6 March. “Our primary objective is to return BSGR to solvency and to ensure that all creditors will be paid in full.

Ghana | Guinea
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Former senior Bechtel executive Asem Elgawhary has been accused in a Maryland court of taking some $5m in kickbacks from power companies in exchange for preferential treatment on $2bn worth of contracts with an Egyptian electricity company. This was all concealed from his employer. Elgawhary, in the eight-count indictment filed on 10 February, is accused of mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to launder money and interference with administration of internal revenue laws. According to the document Elgawhary “used his position… as general manager of a power generation company to solicit and obtain millions of dollars of kickbacks for his personal benefit from US and foreign power companies that were attempting to secure lucrative contracts to perform power-related services.

Subscriber

President Emmerson Mnangagwa fired energy and power development minister Fortune Chasi on 14 August after only 15 months in office, accusing him of “conducting government business in a manner incompatible with presidential expectations”.

Zimbabwe
Issue 427 - 19 November 2020

DR Congo: Parliament backs Sombwe hydro

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Parliament’s Environment, Tourism, Natural Resources and Development Committee has given its support to the 166MW Sombwe hydropower project being developed by Congolese company Kipay Investments in Upper Katanga province. The $500m project is being developed on the Lufira River, 30km downstream of the Kiubo Falls, 300km north of Kolwezi, to help to reduce a supply/demand gap in the Katanga region estimated at 1,000MW, including 270MW for Ivanhoe Mines. It will include a solar plant to be built by Kipay near the Fungurume substation to ensure uninterrupted supply.

DR Congo
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The Ministry of Military Production (MMP) has further extended its oil and gas sector interests with a new deal that shows how the military’s business arms intend to cooperate with international investors. A cooperation protocol was agreed in late October between Italian-Egyptian wellhead production company Tharwa Breda Petroleum Service Company (TBPSCo) and the National Authority for Military Production (NAMP). TBPSCo is 50% owned by Italy’s Breda Energia, with the other half of its equity held by a group of Egyptian state-owned institutions.

Egypt
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Environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth (Fote) received High Court permission on 22 April to take the British government to court over its financial support via UK Export Finance (Ukef) for the Total-operated Mozambique Liquefied Natural Gas (MLNG) scheme. Legal proceedings are another complication for MLNG, which has been badly affected by the conflict in the Rovuma Basin, prompting Total to declare force majeure in recent days.

Mozambique