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African Energy - Issue 397 - 25/07/2019

Cautious optimism as Angola brings in wide-ranging energy reforms

There has been material progress reforming Angola’s opaque and nepotistic energy sector over the past year. Considerable work has gone into crafting new power sector regulations, and there have been notable changes to upstream licensing and the role of state oil and gas giant Sonangol, as well as important reforms to the downstream hydrocarbons sector. Investors and analysts canvassed by African Energy were impressed by the extent of the changes, although plenty of problems remain to be resolved.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1085 - 23/07/2019

UAE drawdown from Yemen creates vacuum for warring parties to fill

UAE officials have confirmed the accuracy of reports that the Emirates are reducing their military commitment in Yemen, in the process signalling a new phase in the war which has now been raging for more than four years (GSN 1,084/5). Whether this is due to war fatigue or a desire to find an exit from a conflict which is undermining the UAE’s reputation on the world stage remains unclear, but Abu Dhabi has insisted the strategic shift – which has taken most observers by surprise – has been planned for more than a year.

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African Energy - Issue 396 - 11/07/2019

Pace of generation expansion slows in Q1

Th e first quarter of 2019 saw a net addition of 1,097MW of on-grid capacity in Africa, the lowest increase – calculated on an annualised basis – since 2011, the first set of quarterly figures to be produced by African Energy Live Data show. If the captive plants and mini-grids that Live Data is aware of are included, the net addition of 1,123MW was the lowest since 2008. Quarterly averages were used for comparison due to uncertainty about the exact commercial operations dates of some historic power plants.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1084 - 04/07/2019

‘Rivalry and posturing’ by Gulf powers add to risks in Horn of Africa

The intense competition for influence among Gulf states and other regional players continues apace in the Horn of Africa, with potentially billions of dollars in financial support and investment flowing from the UAE and Saudi Arabia into Sudan, Ethiopia and their neighbours. But as the network of military bases and ports along the coast of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden gets ever more substantial, criticism of Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states’ impact on the region is also growing (GSN 1,082/5, 1,055/6).

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African Energy - Issue 395 - 27/06/2019

Instability in Ethiopia could undermine power sector reform

Ef forts to encourage private investment in power were under way in Ethiopia before Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in April 2018, but it is only since he assumed office and launched wide-ranging political and economic reform that a credible programme has emerged.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1083 - 20/06/2019

Tehran keeps the Gulf guessing as tanker attacks raise new questions

It is not yet another ‘Tanker War’, but the latest sabotage of oil tankers has highlighted again the region’s vulnerability to attacks on its key export. Oil prices have remained relatively steady – influenced by a global bear market and substantial stocks in major consumers – but the attacks on six ships in May and June still carry the risk that geopolitical tensions between Iran and the United States could spill over into a full-blown conflict, whether by accident or design.

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African Energy - Issue 394 - 13/06/2019

Management of Algeria’s economy under populist/nationalist pressure

The announcement by interim President Abdelkader Bensalah that Algeria will not, after all, hold a presidential election on 4 July points to many more months of political unpredictability. Protests remain largely peaceful, but there is a growing prospect of turmoil as a ruling elite led by deputy defence minister and army chief of staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaïd Salah seeks to outflank a popular protest movement whose leadership remains defined by its anonymity (AE 391/1, 388/1).

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Gulf States News - Issue 1082 - 06/06/2019

Mecca summits underline divisions and distrust among former Gulf allies

There was plenty of hype, but a pair of summits organised at short notice by Saudi Arabia as the holy month of Ramadan was coming to a close failed to foster any sense of unity among the regional actors. Instead the gatherings have served to highlight the region’s many divisions; a series of petty snubs and undiplomatic arguments before and after the Mecca summits suggest there is little prospect of the situation improving in the short-term.

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African Energy - Issue 393 - 30/05/2019

Mobisol and Solarkiosk insolvencies highlight risk in off-grid

Solar home systems (SHS) pioneer Mobisol has entered self-administered insolvency proceedings at the District Court of Charlottenburg in Berlin. The move announced on 18 April gives the management three months to turn the company around and conclude negotiations with prospective investors that began at the start of the year. Mobisol has been operating since 2011.

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Gulf States News - Issue 1081 - 23/05/2019

Region on edge as Tehran and Washington push war-like rhetoric

The threat of a major confrontation in the region remains real. While both sides publicly say they do not want a conflict, some senior figures in the United States, such as long-time Iranophobe national security advisor John Bolton, are acting as if they do, while hardliners in the Islamic Republican Guards Corp (IRGC) and other revolutionary and ‘principalist’ bastions in Iran would not shy away from confrontation either. In such an environment the biggest threat may be that misunderstandings lead to war by accident rather than by design.

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African Energy Gulf States Newsletter