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Controversial South African businessman Moto Mabanga has failed in his bid to win more money from Ophir Energy for helping the company to secure acreage offshore Tanzania

DR Congo | Tanzania
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Fighting has continued to threaten oilfield security in South Sudan’s main oil producing states of Unity and Upper Nile in recent weeks, but production has remained more or less steady at about 165,000 b/d, according to oil industry sources. Government oil sales, meanwhile, have increased by 1m barrels a month. The government closed a tender on 7 May for the sale of 3.8m barrels of Dar Blend crude from Upper Nile. Four contracts were awarded: one of 600,000 barrels and three of 1m barrels. The 600,000-barrel contract was won by Glencore.

South Sudan
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Zesco has drawn up plans to spend some $5bn over the next five years to expand its generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure and is now looking at ways to raise funds. But donor concerns are being raised about the sustainability of Zambia’s debt burden. Years of underinvestment in the power sector mean generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure has not kept pace with rising demand. State utility Zesco plans to spend an estimated $660m from its balance sheet this year to upgrade and expand power facilities, and a further 26.4bn kwacha ($4.7bn) over the next five years.

Zambia
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Pressures on utilities and other state-owned enterprises will be a greater feature in the 2020s than in earlier debt crises. Reforms to the continent’s largest energy enterprises, Eskom and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, are integral to their macroeconomies emerging stronger. Unravelling the problems of malfunctioning parastatals in economies from Ghana to Madagascar already play a central role in governments’ reform commitments. Madagascan utility Jiro sy Rany Malagasy (Jirama) has attracted considerable funds to support its reform.

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) board approved a senior loan of up to $150m on 2 October for a 300MW mine-mouth coal power plant at Maamba and the refurbishment of the coal mine at the site. Maamba Collieries – a joint venture of Nava Bharat Singapore Ltd (65%) and government-owned Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (35%) – is developing the project to use the low-grade coal produced as a by-product of mining at the site which is at risk of spontaneous combustion.The project is expected to cost around $800m and will comprise two 150MW units, using two 510 TPH steam generators with circulating fluidised bed combustion. It is designed with the potential to expand to 600MW.

Zambia
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The global campaign to provide vulnerable and marginalised communities with sustainable and affordable energy has gained considerable momentum in the past decade. The Africa-EU Energy Partnership’s target of giving electricity access to 100m more Africans by 2020, set in 2010, was exceeded by mid-decade. The United Nations’ Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative should achieve its target of pulling 1bn people worldwide out of energy poverty by 2030; some 500m of these people live in sub-Saharan Africa.

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The government is considering various options to increase the capital of Rwanda Energy Group (REG) in order to finance planned infrastructure development. Corporate communications adviser Prosper Mubera Birori told African Energy one possibility was to bring in a strategic investor who would acquire an equity stake in the group as a whole, or in REG’s Energy Utility Corporation Limited (EUCL) subsidiary, which is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the existing generation plants, the transmission and distribution network, and selling electricity to end-users.

Rwanda
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Nigeria has sold a $1bn US dollar bond on the international market, finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala announced on 3 July. It is the country’s first move into the international capital market since selling a €500m Eurobond in 2011. The US dollar bond offered in two categories, a $500m five-year bond at 5.375% interest rate and a $500m ten-year bond at 6.625%, was four times oversubscribed.

Nigeria
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Higher oil revenues and settlements with vulture funds have given Republic of Congo the space to bow to Bretton Woods demands for more transparent accounting for petroleum income, writes Paul Melly.

Congo Brazzaville
Issue 245 - 13 December 2012

UK launches renewables fund

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Securing early-stage project development financing is a major hurdle to getting renewable projects off the ground in many African countries, and a new facility aims to address this. On 4 December, the UK Department for International Development (DfID) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change approved the Green Africa Power (GAP) fund, a new facility housed under the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) umbrella.

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London-based private equity firm Helios Investment Partners led a $55m funding round in January for Off Grid Electric, a solar home system provider with Silicon Valley origins. The round, supported by General Electric Ventures and existing investors, is believed to be the biggest equity investment to date in the off-grid power sector. “As the largest private equity firm exclusively focused on Africa, energy access is a priority theme for Helios,” Helios co-founder and managing partner Tope Lawani said.

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Having weathered many storms as head of Office National de l’Electricité et de l’Eau Potable (ONEE), Ali Fassi-Fihri was sacked as head of the state utility on 24 October. He was dismissed along with four prominent ministers and another parastatal boss by King Mohammed VI in response to a report by the Cour des Comptes (public accounts court) on the failures of a multi-faceted project to revive the economy of the northern Al-Hoceima region.

Morocco
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In a series of bold and politically risky moves, the Egyptian government has attempted to stabilise its economy and reduce its dependence on financial support from the Gulf by devaluing its currency, reducing subsidies and turning to Iran as an alternative source of imported fuel. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s administration appears to be banking on the assumption that it can contain any public unrest provoked by domestic price rises and shortages of essential goods. It believes it can weather a geopolitical storm with its former patron, and that in the long term the economy will rest on firmer ground.

Egypt
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President Macky Sall looked at his confident best on 12 June as he hosted a day of dialogue over the future shape of the oil and gas industry and the expected revenue boost to the Senegalese economy. The event sought to bring together politicians, business and civil society, but significant elements of the opposition boycotted the event in Dakar’s new conference centre. Sall’s opponents demand that the government should publish all the natural resources contracts it has signed to date.

Senegal
Issue 198 - 19 November 2010

Ophir IPO back in prospect

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Ophir Energy has revived plans to seek a share listing to help fund its growing exploration activity. The company was considering an initial public offering in 2007, but opted to stay private. It argued that markets liked to see short-term results, but that it was still a couple of years from drilling, and private equity was a better way of meeting its needs (AE 126/14