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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
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
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Since the putsch that removed the now-exiled President Alpha Condé in September, ‘Interim President’ Colonel Mamady Doumbouya has been determined to stamp his mark on Guinea. His policies may be less confrontational than those of his friend Colonel Assimi Goïta in Mali, who replaced French forces with Russian Wagner Group paramilitaries, but Doumbouya has nevertheless asserted control over his country’s political and business life.

Guinea
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President Macky Sall’s government has emerged from the immediate chaos of extensive rioting and is pointing to major gas, infrastructure and other developments as a way to restore growth and create jobs, but its calm outward face hides deep concerns over governance and social tensions in a country which has sucked in debt and equity on the basis of its stable reputation, write Waly Dione Faye and Jon Marks.

Senegal
Free

Politics runs through even the most technical questions in a Republic of South Africa (RSA) ruled for nearly three decades by the African National Congress (ANC). Power struggles and influence-broking within the party have a direct impact on the implementation of policy. Along with data and project updates, African Energy’s new 160-page South Africa Power Report 2021/22 highlights the need for President Cyril Ramaphosa to implement reforms to the electricity supply industry (ESI) and other key sectors, in the face of opposition from deeply-rooted ideological and factional rivals.

South Africa
Issue 423 - 24 September 2020

Gambia: PetroNor settles arbitration

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Oslo-listed PetroNor has reached an out-of-court settlement with the government of Gambia on its dispute over the licences for blocks A1 and A4. African Petroleum, which merged with PetroNor in 2019, filed an arbitration case at the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes after the government cancelled the licences and awarded A1, which lies immediately to the south of Cairn Energy’s SNE and Fan discoveries offshore Senegal, to BP.

Gambia
Issue 411 - 12 March 2020

AfDB names new energy VP

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The African Development Bank Group has named Kenya’s Kevin Kanina Kariuki as the new vice-president for power, energy, climate and green growth with effect from 16 April. He replaces Amadou Hott, now Senegal’s minister of economy, planning and international cooperation. Described by one industry commentator as “smart in all senses with a real knowledge of the sector and the investor community”, Kariuki was previously head of infrastructure at Industrial Promotion Services (IPS) Kenya Ltd.

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IOCs and business lobbies continue to contest the 2019 decision to impose stricter rules on currency transfers and payments across the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (Cemac). The regulations were promoted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to improve governance and economic management, but companies complain they have been starved of cash for operations in the Central African franc zone .

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Energy investors are pushing for Tanzania’s President John Magufuli to deliver on his promise to back competitive energy projects in his second term. Renewable energy plants in particular have potential to move forward if the government is willing to compromise, writes Dan Marks.

Tanzania
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The Algerian authorities are maintaining their business-as-usual approach, with more appointments to senior roles in the hydrocarbons industry and agreements in principle to undertake cooperation with IOCs, including ExxonMobil. But the outlook remains difficult, with state energy giant Sonatrach already barely able to produce the much lower amount of crude expected under its new Opec+ quota, of 816,000 b/d for May and June delivery.

Algeria
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As Sonatrach tackles the impact of Covid-19 and slumping oil prices, chairman and chief executive (PDG) Toufik Hakkar on 30 March continued his reorganisation of senior managers, with the appointment of eight new vice-presidents. Critics have questioned the credentials of several of the newVPs, pointing out that the moves could give Hakkar greater control over key departments. Few of the new VPs have a high profile. Only one VP, Fethi Arabi, maintains his old post; the rest have been promoted. Sonatrach’s VPs are now as follows:

Algeria
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US developer Endeavor Energy has gone public in its dispute with Starenergie 2073 over the local partner’s decision to drop it from the 372MW Songon gas-to-power project, and sign up a Chinese contractor to develop the scheme. How the stand-off might be resolved is not yet clear, but legal action is likely. Its statement, issued on 3 October, said: “Endeavor is fully committed to enforcing its rights under the JDA and will seek redress against Starenergie and anyone tortuously interfering with its contractual rights.”

Côte d'Ivoire
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President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s 11 June government reshuffle appointed Algeria’s fifth energy minister in six years, highlighting instability at the top of a vital but often poorly performing industry. By promoting Noureddine Bouterfa, president director-general (PDG) of state utility Sonelgaz since 2004, the presidency has placed one of the industry’s most seasoned campaigners in the hot seat.

Algeria
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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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A variety of reasons were given for the complete loss of power to the grid of Africa’s biggest economy on 31 March. The most immediate cause appears to have been the tripping of the 330kV transmission lines from Osogbo to Ihovbor and Ihovbor to Benin, resulting in the loss of 201MW from the Ihovbor gas power plant in Delta State. Without adequate reserves to support the system, the resulting drop in frequency caused a complete collapse. Generation had already fallen precipitously from a record high of 5,074MW on 2 February in the wake of a sophisticated underwater attack on the pipeline feeding the Forcados export terminal operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited.

Nigeria