Africa Briefs

12 February 2019 | Economics

Ramaphosa pledges to fix economy

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa announced plans last week to split struggling state power giant Eskom into three separate entities, as he sought to convince investors and voters that he will turn around a struggling economy before an election in May.

"The task before us is formidable," Ramaphosa said during a televised state of the nation address in parliament that was attended by hundreds of lawmakers and dignitaries.

Fixing the crisis at Eskom was the main talking point ahead of Ramaphosa's highly-anticipated annual address as it will be key to him delivering on a promise to mend an economy that stagnated under Zuma.

Trying to please all sides, Ramaphosa said Eskom's generation, transmission and distribution businesses would become separate state-owned entities, without touching on controversial subjects like job cuts or privatisation.

He said the government would support Eskom's balance sheet but that the scale of that support would be revealed only in a budget speech by the finance minister on February 20. – Nampa/Reuters

S. Sudan to return to pre-war oil production

South Sudan will return to producing more than 350 000 barrels of crude per day by the middle of 2020, up from current levels of just over 140 000 barrels per day (bpd) currently, the country's oil minister said on Sunday.

Production is expected to rise to 270 000 bpd by the end of 2019, oil minister Ezekiel Lul Gatkuoth told Reuters. He was speaking on the sidelines of the Petrotech conference in Greater Noida, a satellite city of India's capital New Delhi.

The world’s youngest country, which split from Sudan in 2011, has one of the largest reserves of crude in Sub-Saharan Africa, only a third of which have been explored so far. The country lost many of its oilfields to a civil war that broke out two years after its independence. A September peace agreement is largely holding.

By the end of the year, block 3 and 7 will be hitting 180 000 bpd, blocks 1, 2 and 4 will be producing 70 000 bpd, and block 5A will be producing 20 000 bpd, Gatkuoth said.

South Sudan has signed a preliminary agreement with Russia’s Zarubezhneft for exploring some of the blocks, Gatkuoth said. – Nampa/Reuters

Tunisia averts national strike with public sector wage deal

Tunisia's biggest union on Thursday cancelled a nationwide strike scheduled for later this month after the government agreed to raise wages of about 670 000 state employees, ending months of tensions.

The government is under pressure from foreign lenders to cut spending and reduce its large budget deficit but also faces public anger over high unemployment and poverty. The total wage rise was not announced.

Tunisia's economy has been in crisis since autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in 2011, with unemployment and inflation shooting up.

Teachers had been boycotting exams for hundreds of thousands of students for nearly two months. On Wednesday, thousands rallied near the prime minister's office for better conditions and wages.

Political turmoil and lack of reforms have deterred investment sorely needed to create jobs, forcing the government to implement austerity measures in return for loans totalling about US$2.8 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). – Nampa/Reuters

Final investment decision for Mozambique gas block

A final investment decision, commonly called FID, for a massive offshore natural gas block in Mozambique is expected to be ready by March or April, the chairman of Mozambique's national oil company ENH said in New Delhi on Sunday.

This is the first time any of the seven partners in the block has given a specific timeline regarding an investment plan for the block, located east of Mozambique's Rovuma basin and called Area 1.

An FID for the block could unlock value in one of the world's biggest recent gas discoveries, estimated at 75 trillion cubic feet.

Indian companies - state-owned explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp Ltd through its overseas arm ONGC Videsh Ltd, Oil India Ltd and Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd together hold the highest share in the block with a 30% stake.

National oil company of Mozambique Empresa Nacional de Hydrocarbonetos (ENH) holds 15% and Anadarko Mozambique Area, a subsidiary of US-based explorer Anadarko Petroleum , holds 26.5% and is operator of the block. – Nampa/Reuters

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