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What is believed to be the first shipment of phosphate rock from Western Sahara to Israel docked at Ashdod port on 29 March, on board the bulk carrier Keremcan Oba. It is not clear who the buyer is. While the shipment is thought to have involved a relatively small cargo of around 5,000 tonnes, it is a further sign of rapidly-evolving economic and diplomatic links between the two countries.

Western Sahara (under UN mandate)
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Questions have been raised about Victoria Oil and Gas (VOG)'s  ability to continue after the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) made a substantial award against it in early April. VOG is a business whose importance extends beyond the narrow interests of its shareholders. Its subsidiary Gaz du Cameroun (GDC) is one of the continent’s rare onshore gas producers that sells to a local clientele.

Cameroon
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A High Court ruling left critical questions unanswered over the UK government’s proposed $1.15bn funding for the Area 1 liquefied natural gas scheme in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. The Court of Appeal will now be asked to decide on what could provide an important legal precedent for export credit financing, writes James Gavin

Mozambique
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The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Working Group on Bribery released its Phase 3 report on South Africa in mid-March. The report evaluates and makes recommendations on implementation and enforcement of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments. The OECD said it was “seriously concerned” by the lack of foreign bribery enforcement actions in South Africa. “Despite South Africa’s economic links to a number of countries with corruption risks, only ten foreign bribery allegations have surfaced since it became a party to the Convention in 2007,” the OECD said.

South Africa
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The formation of rival governments in eastern and western Libya threatens to drag the country into a full-blown civil conflict even as oil sector activity has reached levels not seen for more than 12 months. The official government appointed by the recently elected House of Representatives and led by interim prime minister Abdullah Al-Thinni appears to command National Oil Corporation (NOC) and the main oil terminals and fields. However, its authority over the Central Bank of Libya is less certain, and its control over military forces, even those that support it, is negligible.

Libya
Issue 282 - 26 July 2014

DR Congo/Guinea: EITI compliant

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The Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea have both been admitted as full members of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) at an EITI board meeting in Mexico City. “I congratulate the DRC for becoming a full member of the EITI family. Despite all the challenges facing the country, the Congolese people have been working together to bring transparency and accountability to the management of their natural resources,” said EITI board chair Clare Short. DRC’s candidate status was temporarily suspended on 18 April 2013, following the publication of the 2010 EITI Report, which was found to not meet the EITI requirements. The country has since addressed the issues that led to its suspension, an EITI statement said.

DR Congo | Guinea
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While much of the world was distracted by Donald Trump’s election in the US, Rio Tinto announced on 9 November that it had suspended energy and minerals head Alan Davies and accepted the resignation of legal and regulatory affairs executive Debra Valentine after discovering $10.5m in payments to a French adviser to Guinean President Alpha Condé.Rio said it had launched an investigation and alerted regulators after becoming aware on 29 August of emails from 2011 that referred to contractual payments to an unidentified consultant relating to its Simandou iron ore project.

Guinea
Issue 302 - 12 June 2015

Egypt: Bold sector reforms planned

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President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is reviewing a new electricity law which, if approved in its present form, will introduce further substantial reforms to the sector. Sector experts consulted by African Energy did not expect him to pass the law until after the summer peak demand period, as officials are unlikely to have the capacity to deal with the proposed changes before then. Among the main reforms envisaged by the law are the unbundling of grid operator Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) from its parent company Egyptian Electricity Holding Company, and making regulator EgyptERA responsible for setting electricity tariffs.

Egypt
Issue 343 - 31 March 2017

Doubts over US commitment to EITI

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As with numerous other policy areas, the incoming US administration has given out mixed messages about its commitment to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The situation will become clearer next year, when the US comes up for assessment. US Democratic senator Ben Cardin and Republican senator Dick Lugar, responsible for the Cardin-Lugar rule requiring companies to disclose payments which was repealed by President Donald Trump in February issued a joint statement on 20 May regretting the US decision to “effectively leave” the EITI.

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With a month to go before elections, state power utility Zesco has reduced daily power cuts to households from eight or more hours to four hours, in a move expected to boost President Edgar Lungu’s chances of another five-year term. However, the reduced load-shedding does not apply to mining companies, which are still restricted to less than 30% of their peak power demand. Zesco spokesman Henry Kapata said the utility was importing 90MW from a power barge docked at Mozambique’s Nacala port, 48MW from Aggreko and 75MW from Electricidade de Mocambique.

Zambia
Issue 369 - 18 May 2018

AfDB debars Chint Electric

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) announced on 7 May that Chinese equipment manufacturer and engineering, procurement and construction contractor Chint Electric has been blacklisted for 36 months. During the period, Chint will be unable to bid, subcontract or provide services under any contract in which the AfDB is participating as a financier. The settlement reached with Chint will see the AfDB monitor progress in strengthening the company’s corporate compliance. The debarment period could be reduced to 24 months if conditions are met early.

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President José Eduardo dos Santos on 2 June appointed a new board of directors for state oil company Sonangol. The new team will be headed by his daughter Isabel, a businesswoman who led the commission that formulated proposals for Sonangol’s restructuring. The new board will implement the reforms recommended by the commission, outlined in two presidential decrees on 26 May.

Angola
Issue 271 - 17 February 2014

Wider enforcement of the Bribery Act

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UK Serious Fraud Office director David Green has proposed an amendment to the Bribery Act that would expand the law’s coverage and lead to the possible blacklisting of companies. His proposal would widen the Bribery Act’s ‘failure to prevent bribery’ language to include a failure to prevent all acts of financial crime. Companies and banks could be barred from participating in public contracts across the European Union. International financial institutions have successfully used blacklisting for companies found guilty of corruption – the World Bank in the 12 months to August 2013 debarred 307 entities ranging from major multinationals (for example SNC-Lavalin in April 2013 for ten years) to smaller firms and individual consultants.

Subscriber

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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The $5.1bn sale of Unilever’s tea division assets to CVC Capital Partners points to the potential for emerging markets’ commodities, but social and governance concerns persuaded other bidders to pull back. This and other examples – such as the cancelled Kinagop wind project detailed by Pierre Bertrand below – point to shifting ESG metrics that cannot be ignored by operators and investors in all sectors, writes Marc Howard

Kenya