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Gulf States Newsletter - Issue 1103 - 21/05/2020

A month since the Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared a state of emergency and self-administration on 25 April, there is no sign of tensions easing with the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi (GSN 1,102/6). This raises fresh doubts over Yemen’s long-term viability as a single state.

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African Energy - Issue 415 - 14/05/2020

Nigeria faces multiple crises as daunting fiscal, social challenges unfold

Senior officials have kept their counsel during a difficult period when coronavirus and the oil price slump have laid low the Nigerian economy, but there are signs that reformists in Abuja are trying to use the crisis to their advantage – reflected in action to end fuel subsidies and accelerate power sector reforms. But despite some potentially important steps forward, the outlook is extremely difficult in a humanitarian crisis where social distancing is all but impossible for the majority of the population.

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Gulf States Newsletter - Issue 1102 - 07/05/2020

Alarm bells ring as Iraq slowly faces up to the consequences of slumping oil revenues

After six months of haggling – which is far from a record – the Chamber of Representatives’ 6 May vote has endowed Iraq with a new government. Mustafa AlKadhimi’s administration would face daunting challenges even without the sharply deteriorating economic outlook, triggered by plunging oil revenues. Iraq is one of the biggest losers from the slump: based on an average $30 a barrel ($/bbl) Brent crude price, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast a 70% drop in revenues, while Fitch Ratings expects GDP to contract by almost 10% this year. Low oil prices coupled with lower production and exports threaten to drain the funding pool that Iraq’s political elites have traditionally relied on to maintain their patronage networks. But those holding power and influence in Baghdad seem unlikely to change their ways.

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African Energy - Issue 414 - 30/04/2020

Latest African Energy figures show decade of patchy progress

The African Energy Live Data 2019 update shows that 9.6GW of net new capacity was added on the continent during the year. The figure includes off-grid and embedded plants in the public domain, as well as on-grid facilities. This is just over half of the capacity added in 2018 and significantly less than the five-year 2014-18 average of 13.2GW . The slowdown was widespread. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) excluding South Africa, 2.8GW was added, the lowest amount since 2014 and also significantly lower than the 2014-18 average of 3.8GW .

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Gulf States Newsletter - Issue 1101 - 23/04/2020

As Covid-19 strikes rulers and those they rule, the crisis hurts the poorest the most

Gulf Co-operation Council states appear to have coped quite well in slowing the spread of Covid-19, although there is considerable scepticism about the accuracy of the numbers reported. As of 22 April, World Health Organisation (WHO) data show the global death rate stood at 6.8% of all cases, but that figure for the six GCC states was just 0.6%. There is likely to be much worse to come. Kuwaiti scientists believe the virus will not peak there until mid-May. Saudi health minister Dr Tawfiq Bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah said the kingdom could eventually see 200,000 cases, many multiples higher than the current 11,631.

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African Energy - Issue 413 - 16/04/2020

South Africa’s crisis could finally force tough energy reforms

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration has frequently been criticised for the slow pace of reform, particularly as national utility Eskom has slipped deeper into crisis. However, the coronavirus pandemic has so far been widely seen as strengthening his political position, while dampening the impact of Moody’s downgrade of the sovereign debt rating to below investment grade. This could provide an opportunity for pushing through reforms and seeking more international support. A $1bn loan from the New Development Bank has already been secured, while ministers have mooted support from the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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Gulf States Newsletter - Issue 1100 - 02/04/2020

Dubai faces into another economic storm as the ‘coronacrisis’ forces Expo delay

Dubai’s decision on 30 March to seek a one-year delay of the Expo 2020 fair, which had been due to start on 20 October, represents a psychological body blow to the commercial hub’s economy. Even before the coronavirus pandemic had begun, the Dubai economy was in poor shape, with real estate prices in decline since 2015 and wider levels of activity muted. The sharp fall in oil prices was threatening to make the downturn even worse; even though Dubai has only limited oil and gas reserves, its economy relies to some extent on the recycling of oil-derived wealth from its neighbours.

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African Energy - Issue 412 - 26/03/2020

Coronavirus impact on Africa’s power sector is limited, so far

The coronavirus pandemic has so far been characterised by the dramatic speed of infection and a rapid escalation of policy responses by governments. While Africa has so far been less affected than Europe, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on 23 March announced a 21-day lockdown to begin on 26 March, and it is likely that many more countries will follow. The continent has had at least 2,000 recorded cases, mostly among people travelling from Europe, and almost certainly many more in reality.

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Gulf States Newsletter - Issue 1099 - 19/03/2020

Bani Salman leadership projects ruthless ambition as oil prices crash, virus spreads

Alargely unexpected conflict between Riyadh and Moscow has shattered the marriage of convenience which since 2016 has allowed the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and Non-Opec countries to stabilise oil prices and with them their domestic finances. The fallout, which threatens huge new pressures on oil producing economies, was driven by one of Opec’s most experienced officials, Saudi energy minister (and royal son) Prince Abdelaziz Bin Salman.

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African Energy - Issue 411 - 12/03/2020

Price shock hits African producers already struggling with low demand

The fallout from Saudi Arabia’s 6 March decision to pull the plug on negotiations with Russia to extend and deepen Opec and non-Opec crude production cuts risks dragging Africa’s leading oil exporters into prolonged recession if oil prices do not recover quickly from their new levels of around $35/barrel.

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