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African Energy - Issue 352 - 10/08/2017

As dos Santos retires, Angola sticks with mega-projects to promise brighter future

Critics abroad and poorer Angolans may question where billions of dollars of oil revenues have gone in past decades, but the ruling Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA) prefers to trumpet its successes in the run-up to parliamentary elections on 23 August that will surely consecrate defence minister João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço as successor to President José Eduardo dos Santos. The government, forced to cut spending and borrow heavily as oil prices slumped to levels far below its budget calculations, is telling voters a better future beckons, with the announcement of progress on a string of new large hydroelectric power schemes (HEPs) and other infrastructure.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1042 - 03/08/2017

Saudi Arabia grapples with rising security threats on several fronts

Saudi Arabia’s more muscular approach to settling regional disputes, a feature of Riyadh’s projection of power during Crown Prince and defence minister Mohammed Bin Salman Bin Abdelaziz (MBS)’s rise to ascendency, has seen the kingdom and its allies become bogged down in conflict in Yemen, confronting Iran in a number of theatres – including Gulf waters, where a series of naval incidents has heightened the risk of a more violent confrontation and embroiled in a standoff with Qatar that shows no sign of resolution. In this volatile environment, security threats have risen in intensity on several fronts, including at home.

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African Energy - Issue 351 - 27/07/2017

Nigeria updates gas policy, but ability to deliver is key

With cabinet approval for a comprehensive new National Gas Policy (NGP) and ministers proposing other initiatives to drive the economy out of recession and improve living standards for the majority of Nigeria’s 186m population, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration promises to implement genuine reforms that could eventually confirm Nigeria’s claim to become a major emerging market. Properly implemented, the NGP and associated policies could open the way for a functioning electricity supply industry to emerge. This would be driven by gas-fired generation plants and privately owned distributors who would benefit from a more transparent, efficient gas industry. As ever, everything depends on whether policy commitments can be implemented.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1041 - 20/07/2017

The next insurgency beckons after Mosul, rebooting Iraq’s cycle of violence

The battle of Mosul finally ended after 267 days of major combat operations and well over a year of preparations before that. But even before the final diehards were forced out of their last-stand locations Islamic State (IS or Daesh) jihadists had already begun their shift to terrorism tactics within the city of Mosul.

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African Energy - Issue 350 - 13/07/2017

Tanzania legislates for resources firms to pay more or face the consequences

Aperennial issue in Tanzanian politics and business – the extent to which the East African state is exploited by international capital and should reap bigger yields from its natural resources – returned with a vengeance when, on 4 July, the National Assembly unanimously passed three laws covering natural resources investment. Tabled on 29 June, the ‘urgent status’ legislation will support President John Pombe Magufuli’s efforts to force energy and mining companies to give Tanzania a better deal – a cornerstone of his government’s populist appeal.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1040 - 06/07/2017

Antagonists dig in for the long haul as Qatar crisis drags into a second month

Qatar’s predictable and probably inevitable decision to reject the list of 13 demands made of it by its Gulf Cooperation Council adversaries – Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE (dubbed by GSN the GCC-3, also known as the Troika) – and Egypt suggests the conflict will drag on for much longer than its second month (GSN 1,039/1, 1,038/1). Economists believe Doha can see out a protracted boycott, barring a still unlikely military intervention that Qatar’s much smaller forces would find hard to oppose, despite the recent Turkish deployment, discussed on page 5. Closer relations with Iran (see page 3) could have catastrophic consequences for the region if a new military alliance is seen to be forming – as the Qataris well know. Talk of ‘regime change’ to replace Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani is no more than speculation, as a majority of Qataris ‘rally round the flag’

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African Energy - Issue 349 - 29/06/2017

Mozambique claims long-term regional leadership despite financial stress

President Filipe Nyusi was bound to make the most of the announcement that Eni and partners had reached a final investment decision (FID) to develop the $8bn Coral South floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) project in offshore Area 4; all drilling, construction and installation contracts for the 3.4m t/yr FLNG scheme in the Rovuma Basin were signed to great fanfare in early June.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1039 - 22/06/2017

Dynastic conflicts and generational shifts exacerbate regional crisis

The politics were long in the making before the crisis erupted between Qatar and three major Gulf Cooperation Council partners turned adversaries – Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE (the ‘GCC-3’) – plus Egypt and other allies from the wider Muslim world, but several of the immediate consequences emerging from the conflict are nevertheless unexpected.

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African Energy - Issue 348 - 15/06/2017

Zambia overhauls electricity regime as sector heats up

Acombination of drought, national utility Zesco’s balance sheet, and an alarming bill for electricity sector subsidies has persuaded the Zambian government to push ahead with a radical overhaul of its power sector. Pressure from drought is easing gradually. Energy minister David Mabumba told the National Assembly on 28 March that generation from hydropower had improved, in particular at Kafue Gorge, where available capacity had increased from 630MW to 900MW , of an installed 990MW . He put total available capacity in the country at 1,901MW , plus around 75MW imported from Karpower in Mozambique.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1038 - 08/06/2017

Showdown with its neighbours heaps pressure on Qatar, threatens GCC’s future

The most consequential dispute among Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) members for years has escalated from a curious allegation of injudicious comments and hacking into a full-blown diplomatic and economic crisis in the space of a few weeks, to the point where it no longer feels fanciful to question the bloc’s long-term viability. Such is the dispute’s gravity that Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani’s rule has been called into question, while Qatar is confronted with a potentially deep and multi-faceted crisis.

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