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African Energy - Issue 355 - 12/10/2017

Ethiopia aligns with donors to deliver renewables ambitions

Progress towards drilling for steam by Corbetti Geothermal Company, the launch of tenders for the 100MW Metehara solar photovoltaic (PV) independent power project (IPP) and the World Bank Scaling Solar programme’s requests for developers to prequalify to install 250MW at two sites suggest that Ethiopia is accelerating efforts to diversify its hydro-dominated energy mix and move a key strategic sector onto a market footing.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1045 - 05/10/2017

Kurdish push for statehood throws up fresh quandaries for region

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is not expected to formally declare independence any time soon, following President Masoud Barzani’s referendum on 25 September – the result is technically non-binding and is the subject of a federal Supreme Court action on its constitutionality. Close observers further told GSN that in any case they believed the KRG had given private assurances to the United States, Iran and other major players that it will not issue a formal declaration of nationhood.

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African Energy - Issue 354 - 28/09/2017

Algeria plans hydrocarbons law revisions but opposition to shale remains

Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia’s government is expected to revise the hydrocarbons law, which was passed in 2005 (Law 05-07) as a liberal document drawn up by then energy minister Chakib Khelil, but was then revised to take on a much more nationalist tone. Another revision, in 2013, disappointed international oil companies (IOCs) looking for more reasons to invest in Algeria, where IOC participation is restricted to 49% of a project’s equity and other terms are seen to strongly favour the government. While radical changes are not anticipated – the ‘51/49 rule’ is expected to remain in place – the government is expected to take a more pragmatic approach to attract upstream investment.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1044 - 21/09/2017

Saudi crackdown fuels rumours of crown prince’s ambitions

The contradictory signs emanating from Riyadh over recent weeks – of socially liberalising reforms, a likely easing of some economic reform targets and a fresh crack-down on ‘unhelpful’ commentators – are often hard to make sense of. But within the kingdom they are being read as meaning just one thing: that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) has his eyes firmly on the ultimate prize of taking over from his father and whatever needs to be done to ease his path will be done.

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African Energy - Issue 353 - 14/09/2017

Symbion revives Mandroseza plant as Madagascar woos investors

The government is looking to revitalise bedraggled utility Jiro sy Rany Malagasy (Jirama) and attract investment to help reach its goal of generating 85% of power from renewables by 2030. But some of the signals given out by President Hery Rajaonarimampianina ahead of the 2018 elections have political analysts concerned.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1043 - 07/09/2017

Qatari opposition figures search for credibility on the international stage

The diplomatic dispute pitting Qatar against three of its former Gulf allies – Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – and Egypt continues to throw some obscure figures into the spotlight. In recent weeks it has been the turn of Sheikh Abdullah Bin Ali Bin Abdullah Al-Thani, a little-known member of the ruling family who rose to prominence after meeting Saudi King Salman Bin Abdelaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) in August. Abdullah Bin Ali has the (possibly unwanted) backing of controversial exiled opponent Qatar National Democratic Party president Khalid Al-Walid Al-Hail, who has political asylum in the UK. Such is his new prominence that Sheikh Abdullah was pictured beside King Salman on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha.

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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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