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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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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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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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African Energy - Issue 392 - 16/05/2019

Zambia’s Zesco seeks to renegotiate power tariffs with IPPs

State power utility Zesco is seeking to renegotiate its power purchase agreements with independent power producers (IPPs) in an effort to curb its ballooning debt. At end-April 2019, Zesco owed IPPs about $680m, and the company says low power tariffs mean it has little hope of reducing the burden.

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African Energy - Issue 391 - 02/05/2019

Ould Kaddour sacked as Algerian regime seeks to show commitment to change

Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour was dismissed as head of state energy giant Sonatrach on 23 April, to be replaced by head of production Rachid Hachichi. Respected as an industry professional but widely distrusted for his links to the now discredited Bouteflika clan, and especially his ties to the politically ambitious former energy minister Chakib Khelil, Ould Kaddour’s position was in doubt even before Abdelaziz Bouteflika departed the presidency (AE 390/18, 388/3). His removal was announced by the interim president, Abdelkader Bensalah, as the remaining leadership – in which deputy defence minister and army chief of staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaïd Salah continues to play a leading role (AE 388/1) – sought to show protesters that the regime is capable of change.

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African Energy - Issue 390 - 18/04/2019

Equatorial Guinea takes hard line on Zafiro extension

While minister of mines and hydrocarbons Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima is clearly in a hurry to bring more oil and gas resources into production and to raise the profile of his country within the global hydrocarbons industry, he is also holding out for the best deals he can get. Market speculation is focused on a prospective deal for London-based independent Trident Energy – which is led by former Perenco executives and describes itself as an expert in reviving mid-life oil and gas assets – to take over ExxonMobil’s Zafiro oil and gas field, which started production in 1996. Production levels are declining and Exxon’s contract expires in 2023.

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African Energy - Issue 389 - 28/03/2019

South Africa endures more load-shedding as Eskom tariff increase approved

With elections coming up on 8 May, the power crisis in South Africa has peaked at an inconvenient time for President Cyril Ramaphosa. While opposition parties, particularly the Democratic Alliance, are seeking to make political capital out of the catastrophic deterioration in technical and financial performance at Eskom, there are also concerns that no substantial policy measures are likely until after the elections.

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African Energy - Issue 388 - 18/03/2019

Algeria enters uncertain new phase as disaffected population finds its voice

The announcement that Abdelaziz Bouteflika would not seek a fifth term in the planned 18 April presidential election answered only some critical questions about Algeria’s immediate future. It showed that the ruling factions were not prepared to turn the state’s mighty armoury on peaceful demonstrators to keep the 82-year-old invalid in power. And it showed that Algeria’s predominantly youthful population was ready to take back control of its destiny after three decades of marginalisation as the state first fought radical Islam in the 1990s and then consolidated a malfunctioning system of centralised crony capitalist economics that has mainly benefited the regime during Bouteflika’s 20 years in office (AE 385/14).

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African Energy - Issue 387 - 28/02/2019

Little prospect of change in Nigeria as Buhari wins second term

Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission on 27 February declared incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari the winner of the delayed 23 February election. Buhari landed 55.6% of the popular vote, a clear margin over the 41.2% who voted for his main rival Atiku Abubakar, according to provisional results. Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) also extended its majority in the National Assembly.

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African Energy - Issue 386 - 14/02/2019

Eskom unbundling announced as South Africa returns to load-shedding

President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his State of the Nation address on 7 February that “Eskom is in crisis and the risks it poses to South Africa are great”, a point emphasised when stage 4 load-shedding – meaning that more than 4GW was cut from the grid – was implemented a few days later.

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African Energy Gulf States Newsletter