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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.

Subscriber

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.

Nigeria
Subscriber

The Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) and British Virgin Islands-listed Process & Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID) presented their cases at the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court in London, United Kingdom, on 13-14 July in the latest milestone of their long-running dispute. Nigeria is challenging an arbitration ruling against it, now worth nearly $10bn, over P&ID’s claim that the government’s failure to meet its obligations caused its gas-processing project to fail.

Nigeria
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Canada will require extractives companies listed on its stock exchanges or based in the country to disclose their payments under the Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act, which came into force on 1 June. The act was passed into law on 16 December 2014 and, after 1 June, all extractives companies subject to the act will be required to report payments including taxes, royalties, fees and production entitlements of $100,000 or more to all levels of government in Canada and abroad.

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Israeli diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz and three fellow directors of his Guernsey-registered BSG Resources (BSGR) have filed a damages claim against London-based Global Witness at London’s High Court over violations of the Data Protection Act (DPA), following a decision by the UK Information Commissioner. They say that the NGO’s refusal to disclose personal information obtained during a long-running investigation of BSGR’s acquisition of mining rights in Guinea breaches their human and data protection rights. The dispute centres on BSGR’s controversial 2008 acquisition of the Simandou iron ore deposit in south-eastern Guinea, the largest undeveloped reserve in the world.

Guinea
Free

the 31 December deal between opposition parties and Joseph Kabila Kabange, brokered by the Roman Catholic Bishops Conference and supported by the international community, should lead to elections by year-end and the president’s eventual departure. This would do much to clarify Democratic Republic of Congo’s future direction, from developing the Inga dam to establishing a path of improved governance and economic recovery (AE 325/22, 320/1).

DR Congo
Subscriber

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) began a two-day public hearing on 23 June on Eskom’s request for an immediate tariff increase. Of particular concern was the problem posed to municipalities of an immediate increase in the cost of the power they resell as they are no longer able to increase the sale price of electricity during the year. There were numerous calls for the government to consider raising funds by other means, in particular through private capital and additional debt. However, Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe rejected privatisation for the time being. Nersa is set to make a decision on the application on 29 June.

South Africa
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On the night of 30-31 March, President Jacob Zuma announced the momentous decision that he was firing respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan, along with nine others from the 35-member cabinet, among them energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson. Gordhan was replaced by Malusi Gigaba, an experienced politician considered to be a Zuma supporter.

South Africa
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Westinghouse Electric Belgium has succeeded in a Supreme Court of Appeal case against a decision by Eskom on 12 August 2014 to award a contract to France’s Areva to replace six steam generators at the 1,800MW Koeberg nuclear power plant in the Western Cape. The ruling overturned an earlier High Court decision in favour of Eskom. Judge Carole Hélène Lewis ordered the utility to rerun the procurement process. Eskom is seeking to challenge the judgement in the Constitutional Court.

South Africa
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The unprecedented international warrant for the arrest of former energy and mines minister Chakib Khelil and 19 other individuals, including members of his family, brings the Algerian judiciary into line with aggressive corruption investigations in Italy and elsewhere. It also removes the suspicion that those involved might still enjoy some degree of domestic political protection. Warrants issued by prosecutors in Milan in late July had already provided strong indications that Khelil could be directly implicated in a major corruption investigation concerning the Italian engineering company Saipem, state-owned oil and gas company Sonatrach and the electricity and gas utility Sonelgaz. But, until the recent announcement, it appeared that these alleged abuses, committed in Algeria, were being more vigorously pursued overseas.

Algeria
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Greenpeace has served papers to energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) and finance minister Nhlanhla Nene through the sheriff of the Pretoria High Court in an attempt to force the government to update its decade-old nuclear liability regulations. A court date will be set, and Greenpeace senior climate and energy campaign manager Melita Steele told African Energy that the organisation hoped a judgement would be reached this year. Greenpeace said in a statement that South Africa’s nuclear liability regulations were “completely inadequate” having not been updated since May 2004.

Issue 373 - 13 July 2018

South Africa: Load-shedding returns

Subscriber

A wage dispute between national utility Eskom and employee unions has seen load-shedding return over the past month. Eskom is struggling to regain control of its finances and its workforce, which has increased from 32,000 in 2003 to 47,600 in 2017 according to its annual reports, is an obvious place to start. Wages have also increased significantly over the period. Eskom chairman Jabu Mabuza said in late June that starting negotiations by offering no wage increase was a tactical mistake.

South Africa
Issue 297 - 26 March 2015

Egypt: Travel visa rules tightened

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A tightening of visa rules is scheduled from 15 May to give intelligence services more time to assess visitors to Egypt. Individual travellers will have to apply for a visa at their local consulate, rather than picking one up on entry. Reuters quoted Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Badr Abdelatty as saying: “The system remains unchanged for tourist groups, which can obtain visas at airports, but individuals have to get a prior visa from embassies.”

Egypt
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Business fixer and lobbyist Pierre Goudiaby Atepa, who introduced Frank Timis to then president Abdoulaye Wade, denied that exploitation of Senegal’s offshore resources could lead to an ‘oil curse’, as opposition critics complain, when he spoke recently to local television station TFM. Goudiaby said he had received no reward for introducing Timis to Wade. He was only “working for the good of my country in my role as presidential adviser”. At the time, newly appointed energy minister Samuel Sarr led the negotiations, supported by Société des Pétroles du Sénégal (Petrosen) director-general Serigne Mboup. Sarr was replaced as minister in 2009, when presidential son Karim Wade inherited the African Petroleum Corporation (APC) dossier.

Senegal
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SNC-Lavalin Group chief executive Robert Card has warned that any move by the authorities to charge the Canadian engineering company in connection with an extensive bribery scandal would immediately threaten its future and could force it to close. Card told The Globe and Mail he would be “deeply concerned” if the company was charged because it would hurt the business severely. “If the company can’t do business, you really only have two choices. You are going to do some dismemberment and cease to exist entirely, or you are going to be owned by somebody else,” he said.