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South Africa Finance Minister Says He Will Fight Efforts to Discredit Him

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Pravin Gordhan

South Africa’s finance minister said on Friday he would take legal action to protect himself from what he called attempts to discredit him and the integrity of the Treasury.

The rand fell after Pravin Gordhan’s statement and another from President Jacob Zuma expressing his confidence in Gordhan, whom he appointed in December after a previous change of finance minister triggered a plunge in the South African currency.

Gordhan’s statement followed a newspaper report which quoted sources as saying he had threatened to resign after receiving a letter from the elite Hawks police unit questioning his knowledge of a suspected rogue unit at the revenue service.

Confirming he had received a letter with those contents, Gordhan said in a statement it was “an attempt by some individuals who have no interest in South Africa, its future, its economic prospects and the welfare of its people”.

“I can categorically state that the Hawks have no reason to ‘investigate’ me,” said Gordhan, a former head of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), who won widespread respect during an earlier term as finance minister from 2009 to 2014.

In a separate statement, Zuma said he had full confidence in Gordhan and dismissed “rumors and gossip which insinuate some conspiracy against minister Gordhan”.

The Business Day newspaper said on Friday that Gordhan had threatened to resign from the cabinet last weekend, ahead of his budget speech on Wednesday, unless current SARS commissioner Tom Moyane was removed from his role.

Quoting sources, it said the ultimatum to Zuma reflected a serious deterioration in Gordhan’s relationship with Moyane, who remains in the job. The two men have clashed amid a probe into a unit which allegedly operated unlawfully in the department under Gordhan’s watch during his previous stint as finance minister.

At a function on Friday, Gordhan criticized Moyane for defying instructions to halt a restructuring exercise at SARS, underlining rising tensions between the finance ministry and the tax collection agency.

“I think it is absolutely unacceptable for the head of a government entity to be defiant of the executive authority that is responsible for that entity,” Gordhan said at the event.

“WHAT IS THERE TO HIDE?”

“And if there is such defiance, one must ask the question, what is there to hide?”

Moyane was not immediately available to comment.

The tensions surrounding the finance ministry come at a time when Africa’s most industrialized economy is stalling, with growth now seen at 0.9 percent in 2016, down from the 1.7 percent predicted in October.

South African business leaders urged Zuma to urgently deal with the public spat between Gordhan and Moyane.

“The president must resolve this issue,” Cas Coovadia, spokesman for a group of chief executives who have been interacting recently with Zuma and Gordhan on ways to improve economic growth, told Reuters.

“It would be an absolute tragedy for our country if this results in any uncertainty around minister Gordhan’s ongoing position as minister of finance.”

Zuma appointed Gordhan in December to calm markets after the rand plunged nearly 10 percent following his replacement of finance minister Nhlanhla Nene with a junior politician.

The rand extended losses against the dollar after the statements by Zuma and Gordhan, falling nearly 4 percent to 16.1950 per dollar in volatile trade that set it on track for the biggest daily loss since 2011. The rand was the worst performer among emerging market currencies. Bond yields soared.

“Another change in finance minister would be a disaster for investor confidence and could underpin the prospect of ratings downgrade to junk status,” said Rajiev Rajkumar, EMEA analyst at London-based research house 4Cast.

On Wednesday, Gordhan presented an austerity budget aimed at preserving South Africa’s credit rating and which included spending cuts, civil service job freezes and moderate tax hikes on property sales, fuel, alcohol and capital gains.

Ratings agencies have said they might cut South African debt to “junk” after Zuma’s two changes of finance minister in less than a week in December raised questions about Pretoria’s commitment to prudent fiscal policy.

“I understand that it’s creating a little bit of angst and people are little concerned and worried, but if the markets are concerned about Gordhan stepping down I think that’s completely overplayed,” said George Glynos, managing director at ETM Analytics.

Reuter

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Energy

Equatorial Guinea to Launch Vision on Post-COVID Energy Transition Plans with Report and Film

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The Africa Energy Series (AES): Equatorial Guinea 2021 campaign – comprising a report and a documentary – will serve as a critical tool to navigate the energy investment landscape in one of Africa’s more mature petroleum producing markets; Equatorial Guinea has largely been able to sustain its pace of engagement with global investors in the face of COVID-19, forecasting $1.1 billion in FDI in oil and gas activities in 2021; The third edition of the AES: Equatorial Guinea 2021 report will be released at Africa Oil & Power’s U.S. Africa Energy Forum 2021 networking event in Washington, D.C. this July.

Africa Oil & Power is proud to announce the upcoming launch of its Africa Energy Series (AES): Equatorial Guinea 2021 investment report and documentary, as part of a multimedia campaign set to champion the domestic energy sector and shape the West and Central African energy narrative.

The dual-language publication will target key developments driving a post-COVID-19 recovery in Equatorial Guinea – namely, the growth of petroleum and power industries; regional gas monetization initiatives; a clean energy transition; the impact of environmental, social and governance criteria; and expansion of the national diversification agenda.

A 30-minute documentary will provide a visual complement to the publication, featuring first-hand interviews with government officials, private sector players, industry regulators and energy experts discussing Equatorial Guinea’s unparalleled ambition and future plans.

“From spearheading regional gas monetization initiatives to drilling new exploration wells as early as Q2 2021, Equatorial Guinea continues to cement its reputation as a progressive, dynamic force on the African energy stage,” said H.E. Gabriel Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons. “The Africa Energy Series publication in conjunction with a detailed documentary format, gives us the voice to showcase the depth of our full-stream investment opportunities to a global audience.”

Since the onset of COVID-19, Equatorial Guinea has been proactive in safeguarding opportunities for foreign investors and continuing to drive capital into its hydrocarbon resources. In February, Chevron achieved first gas flow from the successful execution of its Alen Gas Monetization project, a $475-million investment representing the first phase of Equatorial Guinea’s Gas Mega Hub masterplan.

The Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons is currently promoting several capital-intensive projects – including the construction of modular oil refineries, a gold refinery, liquefied petroleum gas strategic tanks, a urea plant and the expansion of a compressed natural gas project – which are open for investment. Last December, the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons announced a forecast of $1.1 billion in foreign direct investment in oil and gas activities in 2021.

Active in Equatorial Guinea since 2015, AOP released its first AES documentary on the country in 2016, followed by investment reports in 2018 and 2019.

The AES: Equatorial Guinea 2021 investment report will be launched at the U.S. Africa Energy Forum 2021 online seminar and in-person networking event in Washington, DC. (July 12). The documentary will be launched at the U.S. Africa Energy Forum conference in Houston (October 4-5) and broadcast globally on news networks.

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U.S. Africa Energy Forum 2021 Launches: Promotes U.S. Role as Primary Investor in African Energy

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The U.S. Africa Energy Forum 2021 – organized by Africa Oil & Power, in partnership with the African Energy Chamber’s U.S.-Africa Committee – will foster alignment between U.S. and African governments’ energy policies and highlight African oil, gas, power and renewable projects across the energy value chain for U.S. investors; the multi-day forum unites U.S. and African policymakers, energy executives and industry leaders to create new linkages and foster discussions that drive long-term policy formation and project execution; the in-person, two-day summit and gala dinner will be hosted in Houston, Texas (October 4-5, 2021) and an online seminar and in-person networking event will be held in Washington D.C. (July 12).

Africa Oil & Power (AOP) and the African Energy Chamber are excited to announce the launch of the first-ever U.S. Africa Energy Forum (USAEF). This event aims to create deeper cooperation between the U.S. and Africa on energy policy, to reach alignment on long term sustainability goals, to stimulate greater American investment in the African oil, gas and power sectors, and to engage and reposition the U.S. as the primary partner of choice for African energy developments.

Under the theme “New Horizons for U.S. Africa Energy Investment” the forum will explore diverse foreign investment and export opportunities across the continent, including natural gas as a vital fuel for the energy transition; energy storage and battery minerals; Africa’s place in global energy supply chains; the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area; evolving energy technologies and how they relate to the future role of petroleum resources; and on-and off-grid power developments.

An online seminar and in-person networking event will be held in Washington D.C. on July 12, 2021, building up to the in-person U.S. Africa Energy Forum summit and gala dinner, to be hosted in Houston, Texas, on October 4-5, 2021. Africa Oil & Power and the African Energy Chamber invite all U.S.-based companies with an interest in engaging with African industry leaders and project developers to participate in the USAEF Houston summit.

This initiative comes at an important juncture in U.S.-Africa relations. The Biden Administration’s announcements of its intentions to proactively build a stronger U.S.-Africa partnership coincides with the fact that African projects are seeing rising interest from U.S. companies and lending institutions alike. The USAEF event is thus dedicated to enabling dialogue between its participants that advances these developments.

“Our mission has always been to showcase the resource potential that Africa has to offer while at the same time showing its growing preference for sustainable energy policies and technologies. Toward that end, we hope it becomes evident that Africa does not just want investment capital: it wants smart capital and an accompanying partnership with the investors,” says James Chester, Senior Director of Africa Oil & Power. “The U.S. Africa Energy Forum represents the first-of-its-kind opportunity to catalyze U.S. participation in Africa’s energy transformation – via technology, policy support, capital injection and skills development – and turns a new page in the chapter on global energy investment.”

In partnership with the African Energy Chamber’s U.S.-Africa Committee, AOP will introduce American companies to African opportunities and advance an agenda of sustainable, long-term investment in African energy and other sectors by U.S. organizations.

“The rise in support from the U.S. to the continent is a credit to Africa itself, which is increasingly viewed as a favored destination for global investors, multilaterals and export credit agencies,” says Jude Kearney, President of Kearney Africa and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Service Industries and Finance at the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Clinton Administration. “Africa continues to command a healthy share of global FDI in oil and gas industries. It has for decades shown that investment in those sectors is favorable compared to other jurisdictions and can be successful by many measures. Even as Africa and the rest of the world wrestles with a global pandemic, Africa’s energy sector shows vitality and resiliency – not only in hydrocarbons but in regard to new opportunities in mining, liquefied natural gas, and agriculture.”

Both African governments and private sector sponsors of African energy projects value highly the combination of investment and partnership that US investors famously convey. The USAEF seeks to enable successful partnerships between its participants such that the energy development goals of U.S. investors and strategic partners and their African counterparts can be achieved.

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Angola’s Petroleum Agency Outlines Timeline for Ongoing Bid-round

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Angola’s National Oil, Gas and Biofuel’s Agency (ANPG) has outlined its timetable for the evaluation of its ongoing 2020 bid round, as interest in the acreage on offer continues to grow.

In line with its statutory duties as national concessionaire in charge of the attribution of petroleum exploration blocks, the ANPG has sought to adjust its processes to remain competitive in the current market environment, which is dominated by concerns around COVID-19, long-term demand considerations and stiff competition from new and promising frontiers like Guyana and Suriname.

The ongoing bid-round is a manifestation of Angola’s strategy for the continuous attribution of petroleum concessions 2019-2025 which was approved and codified by Presidential Decree no. 52/19, of 18 February 2019. The aim of the strategy is to provide access to promising acreage to competent explorers in an effort to increase geological knowledge about Angola’s hydrocarbons potential and ultimately increase proven reserves.

A hybrid online and physical roadshow for the current bid-round is scheduled for April 6 in at the Talatona Convention Centre in Luanda. This event will provide the opportunity for investors to engage with the agency regarding the blocks on offer, the data packages and the accessibility studies, as well as touch upon environmental, logistical and local content issues.

This will kickstart a series of both digital and in-person roadshows and technical presentations to promote the blocks to be awarded in key international markets. The acreages on offer include:

  • Three blocks of the lower Congo onshore Basin CON1, CON5 and CON6
  • Six of the Kwanza onshore Basin (KON5, KON6, KON8, KON9, KON17 and KON20)

In line with the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 86/18, of 2 April 2019, which establishes the rules for the organization of bid rounds, the ongoing 2020 bid round will unfold as follows:

  • Tender Launch
  • Proposal submission
  • The opening of offers from potential suitors in a public setting
  • The evaluation and qualification of proposals
  • The submission of the evaluation report to the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Petroleum and Gas
  • Contract negotiation with the winners of the bid-round
  • Signature

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