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Old January 11th, 2008, 03:53 AM   #41
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INTERVIEW-Zimbabwe power output down, neighbours cut supply

HARARE, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe is generating only half the electricity it needs, while its main Mozambican supplier has cut off supplies over unpaid debts, the head of the southern African country's power utility said on Thursday.

Zimbabwe has been plagued by chronic electricity shortages that have cut power to industry and households, adding to an economic crisis and raising political tensions in the country, which has been ruled by President Robert Mugabe for 27 years.

A year ago Zimbabwe was producing nearly two-thirds of its electricity needs but supply has dropped sharply, worsening problems arising from the world's highest inflation, rising poverty and food and fuel shortages.

Ben Rafemoyo, chief executive of state-owned power company Zesa Holdings, said foreign currency shortages, unpaid debts and obsolete equipment had led to a larger power deficit.

He said the Kariba hydro-electric plant, on the northeastern border with Zambia, could generate around 730 megawatts daily, while the coal-fired Hwange power station in western Zimbabwe generated an average of 250 megawatts.

"That gives a total of 980 megawatts, against (daily) demand of about 1,800 megawatts for the current summer season. Demand often rises to about 2,200 megawatts over the peak winter period," Rafemoyo told Reuters in an interview.

He said, while Zimbabwe was importing some power from the Democratic Republic of Congo's SNEL, it owed that company $5 million.

Its major supplier, Mozambique's Hydroelectrica de Cabora Bassa (HCB), had cut supplies on Jan. 1 over a $26.5 million debt.

"We hope to resolve our issues with the supplier...and have recently paid $10 million," he said. "We hope, sooner, rather than later, we'd be restored," he said.

Rafemoyo said South Africa's Eskom, the biggest power utility in southern Africa, had stopped supplying electricity to Zimbabwe last June, but this was not because of unpaid debts.

"At the moment, they (Eskom) have their own challenges in their backyard and haven't been able to supply since June, but we are current as far as our account with them is concerned."

HWANGE REFURBISHMENT

Rafemoyo said Zimbabwe would soon benefit from the refurbishment of its plants in Hwange under a $40 million deal signed with Namibia's Nampower. As part of the deal, Zesa would export power to Namibia at a subsidised price.

"Once we complete the refurbishment, all our six units at Hwange will have a new lease of life and we expect generation capacity to improve from 250 megawatts to 780 megawatts," Rafemoyo said.

"We hope to achieve that level of production by August or September."

Long-term projects to expand power plants at Kariba and Hwange, to ensure Zimbabwe's self sufficiency in electricity supplies, would require huge investments, he added.

"The two projects would cost about $900 million ... it would be possible to achieve significant savings because the two will be sharing infrastructure with existing plants," he said.

But he conceded there was no immediate solution to the country's frequent power cuts as the utility could not replace obsolete equipment due to crippling foreign currency shortages. (Editing by Paul Simao and Anthony Barker)
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Old January 13th, 2008, 04:14 PM   #42
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Nigerian oil refineries to restart after 2 years

LAGOS, Jan 9 (Reuters) - A pipeline carrying crude oil to two Nigerian refineries has been fixed two years after it was blown up by militants and the plants will restart by the end of January, a state oil company official said on Wednesday.

The resumption of the Warri and Kaduna refineries, with a combined capacity of 235,000 barrels per day, should reduce Nigeria's $4 billion annual fuel import bill dramatically and cut crude oil exports by about 200,000 barrels per day.

A third refinery complex at Port Harcourt, with a capacity of 210,000 barrels per day, is supplied by a different crude pipeline and is currently processing at 65 percent, the official said, asking not to be named.

"The work on the pipeline is complete. Next weekend the Warri refinery will restart and within 2-3 weeks the crude will come to Kaduna," the official said.

The Warri and Kaduna plants are expected to run at close to 80 percent of their capacity soon after startup, he added.

The pipeline feeding both refineries was blown up by militants in Feb. 2006 during a series of attacks on oil infrastructure in the oil producing Niger Delta.

The state oil company was unable to effect repairs until late last year because local communities denied them access to the damage, located deep in the southern swamps of the delta.

Oil company officials and analysts say the delay was also prolonged by corrupt government officials who benefit from commissions on fuel imports, which reached about five million tonnes, worth $4 billion, last year because of the refinery stoppage.
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Old January 15th, 2008, 09:07 AM   #43
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Gazprom plans Africa gas grab with Nigeria infrastructure talks
5 January 2008
Financial Times

Gazprom, Russia's state-owned energy group, is seeking to win access to vast energy reserves in Nigeria in a move that will heighten concerns among western governments over its increasingly powerful grip on gas supplies to Europe.

A senior Nigerian oil industry official, who declined to be named, said the company was offering to invest in energy infrastructure in return for the chance to develop some of the biggest gas deposits in the world.

The Russian move is part of a courtship that saw Vladimir Putin writing to Nigeria's leader, Umaru Yar'Adua, last year to seek energy co-operation. Gazprom's efforts are likely to cause concern among European governments anxious about their dependence on Russia for a quarter of gas imports. The country's readiness to cut off supplies has alarmed EU governments.

"What Gazprom is proposing is mind-boggling," the Nigerian oil official told the Financial Times. "They're talking tough and saying the west has taken advantage of us in the last 50 years and they're offering us a better deal . . . they are ready to beat the Chinese, the Indians and the Americans."

Gazprom representative Ilya Kochevrin confirmed the talks with Nigerian officials. "We made a decision to go global in terms of acquiring assets and developing strategy outside Russia. Africa is one of our priorities," he said.

Any move by Gazprom to establish itself in Nigeria, long dominated by companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil, would reinforce a global trend of state-backed energy companies challenging western rivals.

Although Nigeria is an important provider of liquefied natural gas to the US and Europe, western energy companies have historically focused on producing and selling oil from Nigeria, which is Africa's biggest producer of crude. However, demand has prompted plans for more facilities to cool natural gas into the liquid state, which makes it possible to ship to Europe and elsewhere.

The Nigerian official said Gazprom executives had visited Abuja in mid-December with a range of proposals to revamp the underperforming gas sector.

A Gazprom document, seen by the FT, says it can offer "strong technical expertise and financial resources".
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Old January 17th, 2008, 05:50 AM   #44
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Power cuts hit businesses, enrage South Africans

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Power cuts are endangering motorists at traffic intersections, inflicting heavy losses on businesses and infuriating South Africans already disillusioned by leaders embroiled in corruption cases.

State-owned utility Eskom is planning to spend 300 billion rand ($43.79 billion) to boost power capacity in the continent's biggest economy over the next five years but South Africans plagued by rolling blackouts are losing patience.

The country's electricity reserves have been eroded by several years of strong economic growth, a doubling of users and delayed construction of power plants. Power cuts rippled across South Africa a year ago, blacking out parts of major cities.

South Africa's power woes have raised political temperatures in the past, with critics accusing the government of failing to address the energy crunch plaguing Africa's biggest economy as it gears up to host the soccer World Cup in 2010.

Economist Mike Schussler says South Africa has paid a heavy price because of the outages. "We already think it's in the hundreds of millions of rand (dollars)," he said.

Eskom has now imposed new cuts, which have also affected the crucial mining industry.

Eskom's spokesman was not immediately available for comment. But the outages were a hot topic on a radio talk show which asked callers if South Africa had become a banana republic.

Bianca Uys, 33, is troubled in many ways. The manager of a pizza restaurant has watched profits drop by about 50 percent. Driving home alone at night can be dangerous for women during the best of times -- South Africa suffers from one of the world's worst rates of violent crime, including rape.

Traffic intersections, known as robots, are pitch dark at night, with no signals to guide helpless motorists. "It's not safe for a woman. I get stuck at the robot," she said.

Frustrations were already widespread before the lights went off.

"COCKTAIL OF COVERUPS"

South Africans have just learned that prosecutors will charge their national police chief, Jackie Selebi, with corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering. Selebi has been given an extended leave of absence.

Jacob Zuma, newly elected leader of the ruling African National Congress, will go on trial in August on charges of corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering.

"The general feeling is very negative. It's a cocktail of coverups among leaders," Zaid Surtee, who owns an ice cream shop at the posh Sandton City mall, told Reuters.

Every time his staff opens up the glass case covering fancy flavours on offer, the ice cream goes soft and there is no chance of recovery because of the cuts. "This is ridiculous. Nobody has any idea if Eskom is doing anything about this."

Markets have factored in the allegations hovering around Zuma and Selebi, as well as the power problems, said Esther Law, emerging market strategist at Royal Bank of Scotland in London. "They are adding to negative sentiment," she told Reuters.

The world's biggest miner BHP Billiton -- South Africa's single largest power consumer -- said the cuts have hit its three massive aluminium smelters.

"It does affect our production, but we normally don't disclose the impact," BHP spokeswoman Bronwyn Wilkinson said.

"All three of our smelters have been affected this week on a daily basis, and they have been affected frequently since load shedding began late last year."

Jewellry store owner Mohammed Ravat was more forthcoming about his losses as his employees strained to work through receipts under poor lighting.

"We can't go on like this. You need to look into the diamond clearly, to show the customers," he said.
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Old January 23rd, 2008, 07:07 PM   #45
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Southern African power crisis deepens

CAPE TOWN, Jan 22, 2008 (AFP) - Southern Africa's electricity crisis intensified on Tuesday with Zimbabwe and Zambia hit by massive new blackouts while hundreds of tourists were stranded on Cape Town's famed Table Mountain.

As regional powerhouse South Africa warned it may have to freeze supplies to its neighbours in order to deal with its own shortages, other countries were left scrambling for alternative sources of energy.

In Zimbabwe, whose cash-strapped government is severely in arrears to South Africa's power utility Eskom, commercial production ground to a halt after the second nationwide outage in four days.

The phone network, traffic lights and commuter trains were put out of action by the blackout, which began on Monday night and was rectified in the afternoon.

Ben Rafemoyo, chief executive of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa), said it was too early to determine the cause of the problem, which also appeared to be behind blackouts in its northern neighbour Zambia.

"We are still trying to establish the cause of the blackout. We cannot state the cause at the moment without carrying out investigations," said Rhodnie Sisala, managing director of the state-run Zambia Electricity Supply Company (Zesco).

South Africans have been left fuming over the past fortnight by the rolling power cuts that affect households and businesses for several hours each day.

The nature of the problem was underlined by a hugely embarrassing incident on Monday night when nearly 900 local and foreign tourists were stranded on the Table Mountain for more than five hours, with nearly 100 having to be freed from two cable cars frozen in mid-air.

Some estimates have put the overall cost to business in South Africa at more than two billion rand (280 million dollars, 200 million euros), as the country's economic growth surprised and outstripped power generation capacity.

The country's Milk Producers' Organisation said Tuesday the industry was losing about 100 million rand a month, excluding losses incurred as a result of refrigeration lapses.

The South African cabinet put the issue at the top of its agenda for a three-day meeting this week that kicked off Tuesday with a request by Eskom for more money for infrastructure.

Government spokesman Themba Maseko said a strategy would be thrashed out over the next few days, which may include savings incentives and a cessation of supply to neighbouring countries.

"The impact of load-shedding on the economy, citizens and the country's image is regretted," said Maseko.

"Government gives the assurance that everything is being done at the highest level ... to find an inclusive solution to the energy problem in the short, medium and long term."

Eskom said over the weekend it was cutting supplies to the country's neighbours, prompting the tiny kingdom of Swaziland, which gets about 80 percent of its power from South Africa, to look elsewhere.

"We will be engaging Mozambique so that we may buy electricity from them," Swaziland Electricity Board general manager Sikhumbuzo Tsabedze told Radio Swaziland on Tuesday.

Botswana, too, turned to Mozambique after shortages and outages caused by Eskom reducing its supply from 410MW last year to 350MW this year.

But the Botswana Power Corporation said in a statement Tuesday that it was also experiencing problems, saying that supplies from Mozambique had been delayed by a problem with an electricity tower in Zimbabwe which was acting as a conduit.
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Old January 27th, 2008, 07:04 PM   #46
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Friday January 25, 9:16 PM
South Africa says power crisis will not affect World Cup

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A crippling power crisis will not affect South Africa's ability to host a successful 2010 World Cup, a senior government minister said on Friday.

A wave of rolling power cuts have darkened millions of houses, shut down mines and brought businesses to a standstill in the past two weeks, raising concerns of an economic slowdown and casting a shadow over preparations for the soccer event.

"For 2010, what we're talking about doing is that we ensure that by that time we have a better (electricity) reserve margin," Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin told a news conference in the capital Pretoria.

He made the comment as the government announced that the current power situation in the country represented a national emergency requiring an urgent and vigorous response from the public and private sectors as well as residents.

South Africa once produced enough electricity to meet demand, but strong economic growth and a lack of investment in power stations has led to a shortfall.

There are plans to place generators in all 10 stadiums that will be used during the World Cup, but officials are worried that concerns about electricity supply could give prospective visitors another reason to skip the festivities.
High levels of violent crime already pose a big challenge for local organisers, who expect hundreds of thousands of soccer fans and tourists to visit during the month-long tournament, which begins on June 11, 2010.

They also have repeatedly tried to reassure the public that construction of stadiums and other key infrastructure in the nine host cities will be finished in time.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 12:16 PM   #47
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Press Release Source: Frost & Sullivan
Mobile Internet Services Set to Grow as the Last Mile Solution in Africa
Monday January 28, 2:51 am ET

CAPE TOWN, South Africa--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The African mobile internet services market is set to expand due to the continent’s lack of sufficient fixed line infrastructure. Reduction in handset costs and internet service prices together with improved transmission speeds will boost demand for mobile Internet throughout the continent.

New analysis from growth consulting company Frost & Sullivan (http://www.ict.frost.com) finds that Africa’s Demand for Mobile Internet Access is growing quickly, with operators anticipating growth of between 40 per cent and 50 per cent between 2006 and 2009. The emergence of mobile internet as a preferred last mile connectivity solution is driving this uptake. The steady growth in mobile cellular services and the migration from 2G mobile technologies to 3G technologies creates a platform for deployment of mobile internet services.

“The poor state of fixed line infrastructure is creating the potential for the African mobile internet market to boom,” states Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Spiwe Chireka. “Mobile internet has emerged as the solution to the continent’s last mile connectivity problem.”

Mobile internet is significantly more cost-effective to deploy than fixed line services, is much cheaper and easier for users to acquire, covers a larger area and allows users access while they on the move.

However, the high cost of mobile internet-compatible handsets coupled with the pricing structure remains a significant challenge. Moreover, the majority of Africa’s population still finds these services too expensive to use.

Poor infrastructural development in some countries is also leading to some operators finding it hard to deploy mobile internet services because of a lack of reliable electricity and inadequate road networks to access remote areas.

“Mobile internet service providers need to form partnerships with cellular companies as well as technology and infrastructure providers to see how best they can provide cheaper or more affordable handsets that will provide good quality service,” advises Chireka. “They should also form partnerships with governments across Africa and work out investment plans to improve telecommunications infrastructures so that deployment of such services is not limited.”

If you are interested in a virtual brochure, which provides manufacturers, end users, and other industry participants with an overview of the investment analysis and growth opportunities in Africa’s mobile Internet access market, then send an e-mail to Patrick Cairns, Corporate Communications, at [email protected], with your full name, company name, title, telephone number, fax number, and e-mail address. Upon receipt of the above information, an overview will be sent to you by e-mail.

Africa’s Demand for Mobile Internet Access is part of the Mobile & Wireless Growth Partnership Service Programme, which also includes research in the following markets: South African Mobile Content Market, Untangling the Web: African ISP Markets, and South African Broadband Market. All research included in subscriptions provides detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews with the press are available.

Frost & Sullivan, the Global Growth Consulting Company, partners with clients to accelerate their growth. The company's Growth Partnership Services, Growth Consulting and Career Best Practices empower clients to create a growth focused culture that generates, evaluates and implements effective growth strategies. Frost & Sullivan employs over 45 years of experience in partnering with Global 1000 companies, emerging businesses and the investment community from more than 30 offices on six continents. For more information about Frost & Sullivan’s Growth Partnerships, visit http://www.frost.com.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 09:34 AM   #48
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Tanzania to build rail link to Rwanda by 2013

NAIROBI, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Tanzania plans to build a rail link to Rwanda's capital Kigali by 2013 and work is expected to begin later this year, the office of Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete has announced.

U.S.-based rail operator Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) will act as advisors to the Rwandan government on the project.

The railway will run from Isaka in southern Tanzania.

"The construction of a rail link between Isaka and Rwanda's capital is planned to start later this year, the president was told today," said the statement, seen by Reuters on Saturday.

"A delegation of BNSF officials has also told President Kikwete the construction is expected to be completed in 2013."

It did not say how much the project would cost, or who would finance and construct the railway.

Political turmoil in Kenya since a disputed presidential election last month has disrupted road transport, affecting Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

Last week, part of Kenya's rail network was disrupted when protesters uprooted part of the track running through Nairobi. The operator, Rift Valley Railway, expects services to resume next week after repairs.
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 06:36 PM   #49
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ANALYSIS-South Africa's power crisis also an opportunity

LONDON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - What did South Africa have before candles? Answer: electricity. This has become an unfunny joke for Africa's biggest economy, which this week restored power to its all-important mines, but faces years of tight supply.

Critics say the government ignored warnings from experts as early as 10 years ago about the scale of investment needed.

It now has limited short-term options, although for the long term, there could be opportunities for the region as a whole.

"It's going to be very challenging, including for the world cup," said Alex Vines of London-based think-tank Chatham House. South Africa is to stage the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

"They have not planned for the kind of growth .... especially providing for South Africa's black majority."

Expansion has averaged 5.1 percent, while the infrastructure was designed to cope with annual growth of around 3.5 percent, analysts have said.

"It means the system is going to be tight, but it does not necessarily mean brown outs and blackouts," said Brian Statham, chairman of the South Africa National Energy Association.

Short-term solutions he favoured included exponential tariffs, meaning consumers pay more if they use more, to encourage efficiency balanced with subsidies to ensure the poorest are not starved of power.

COMBINATION OF FACTORS

State utility Eskom said the current crisis began after some power plants were closed for routine maintenance. Others broke down unexpectedly and coal stocks have dwindled after unseasonably wet weather flooded some open pits.

The complex underlying situation stems from a government refusal to allow Eskom to invest enough, while private investors, wary the cheapest power tariffs in the world would limit their profits, did not fill the breach, Statham said.

Following recurrent power cuts and dips in voltage, or brown outs, Eskom on Jan. 25 cut electricity to the country's mines after the gap between supply and demand fell to an unprecedented 4,000 megawatts, threatening to cause the entire electricity network to collapse.

"The scale of the problem is indicated starkly by the production problems experienced by the mines. This is the most acid signal of the size of the supply-demand imbalance," said independent analyst Jayesh Parmar.

"There are no easy answers to the challenge of bringing significant generation onstream quickly."

Eskom said on Wednesday it would increase electricity supply to mines by up to 90 percent by the end of this week and has already raised supplies to 80 percent for most mines.

But it has asked that miners and other big industries cut back their electricity consumption by 10 percent and warned it will start to ration supplies for all its customers in March.

Supplies are likely to be tight until it can bring on new capacity in about five years' time, Eskom has said, and has gone as far as requesting South Africa should not be promoted as a major investment destination.

COAL DOMINANT

Halting mining activity on one level aggravated the problem because coal stockpiles to supply South Africa's power stations, the bulk of which are run on coal, were low.

The Department of Minerals and Energy said around 77 percent of South Africa's primary energy needs are provided by coal.

Another near-term solution is to focus on using South Africa's coal reserves for domestic needs, rather than more lucrative coal export markets.

"They have been a bit cavalier in terms of exporting the coal rather than focusing on domestic use," Statham said.

Eskom would pay more for its coal if the emphasis shifts, but that could feed into the higher tariffs needed to encourage efficiency.

South Africa is the fifth largest coal-producing country in the world, says Eskom, and coal is likely to remain central, but future investment could encourage some diversification and also cleaner use of coal.

"There are massive coal reserves in South Africa. You can't expect South African people to abandon them," Statham said.

"But it's an opportunity to diversify and to look at how to use coal more efficiently and more benignly."

Building a new coal plant can take around five years, but is likely to take around twice that because of the wait for parts and bureaucratic hurdles, analysts say.

South Africa is also looking to increase nuclear capacity, but that takes even longer to come onstream.

As the regional giant, it has exported power and its problems have had knock-on effects for neighbours.

For the future, countries like Botswana and Zambia, which have their own power projects, could help to provide South Africa with electricity.

"The big advantage of all of this is in terms of regional opportunities," said Razia Khan of Standard Chartered Bank.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 06:29 AM   #50
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China lends Kenya $120 mln for city roads

NAIROBI, Jan 31 (Reuters) - China has lent Kenya 8.55 billion shillings ($120 million) to build two new roads to improve traffic flow in the east African nation's normally congested capital, a government statement said.

The money will be used to construct the Eastern and Northern bypasses whose total length will be about 70 km (44 miles).

The government has had a long-standing plan to construct four bypasses outside the central business district to check road congestion which usually brings Nairobi traffic to a crawl.

"The Kenyan government approached the Chinese government to request for funds to construct the project roads," a statement by the roads ministry seen by Reuters on Thursday said.

"The Chinese government responded positively to fund the project through the Export Buyer's Credit."

The Chinese government will pay contractors China Road and Bridge Corporation, C88, Zhonglu Plaza and Andingmenwai Dajie directly, the statement said.

Post-election turmoil has killed over 850 people and hurt Kenya's image as a stable country in a troubled region and led to threats by western donors to freeze aid.

Analysts however say western powers pressing newly re-elected President Mwai Kibaki to find a solution to the crisis do not have much leverage as China is increasingly playing a bigger role in Africa and can provide an alternative source of investment and political support.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 07:24 PM   #51
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GFH prepares for $3 bln Tunisia financial hub

DUBAI, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Bahraini Islamic investment bank Gulf Finance House said on Tuesday it has started due diligence and other preparation for Tunisia's Tunis Financial Harbour, a project worth about $3 billion.

Located at Tunis Bay, the project is part of the bank's focus on developing economic infrastructure in the emerging economies of Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, it said in a statement on the Dubai bourse Web site.

Gulf Finance House, which oversaw infrastructure projects and investments of more than $12 billion over eight years, is building energy hubs in Libya, India and Qatar.
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Old February 13th, 2008, 04:43 AM   #52
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S.Africa's Mbeki vows quick end to power crisis
Fri Feb 8, 11:55 AM ET
Reuters

South African President Thabo Mbeki pledged on Friday quickly to overcome a power crisis that has damaged Africa's biggest economy and raised questions over whether it can host the 2010 soccer World Cup.

In an annual state of the nation speech to parliament, Mbeki vowed to maintain investor-friendly policies and tried to calm fears raised by rolling blackouts that threaten his legacy as the steward of an unprecedented economic boom.

Gold and platinum mines were forced to shut for five days last month, provoking investor concern that South Africa was entering a period of instability after nearly a decade of growth. Gold and platinum prices hit record highs and the rand currency fell sharply.

There have been repeated calls from the media and opposition for Mbeki to fire key ministers accused of ignoring repeated warnings of inadequate power capacity.

"We face an emergency, but we can overcome the problems in a relatively short period," Mbeki told parliament in Cape Town.

The 65-year-old leader also tried to reassure investors worried that growing leftwing influence would push his government into abandoning centrist policies.

Mbeki lost the leadership of the ruling African National Congress last year to Jacob Zuma, who has the strong backing of the powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

Both COSATU and the SACP are in a formal alliance with Mbeki's ANC-led government.

The festive tone that once marked his state-of-the-nation speeches was absent on Friday and his tone was subdued, echoing the mood of many South Africans and reflecting his ANC defeat.

"We will continue to maintain a fiscal posture that supports continued economic growth and development and reducing our external vulnerability," Mbeki said as Zuma looked on.

ZUMA INFLUENCE

The possibility that Mbeki could become a lame duck as Zuma supporters try to influence the government ahead of elections in 2009 threatens turbulence not seen since the apartheid era.

Mbeki promised to continue the battle against poverty, crime and unemployment and expressed confidence the nation would host the World Cup.

The electricity problems have added to worries that South Africa's infrastructure is not up to hosting the competition. The international soccer body FIFA has played down suggestions it might strip South Africa of the event.

"I have absolutely no doubt that we will honor our undertaking ... to create all the necessary conditions for the holding of the best ever ... soccer World Cup tournament," Mbeki said.

Zuma struck a conciliatory tone.

"I think the speech was generally very good," he said. "I think there is adequate energy and commitment from the ANC, from government generally. There is no doubt about that. What the president put across here is what we are all supporting."

Nicholas Kennedy of market analysis firm 4castweb was not impressed by the speech.

"Those hoping for concrete details on how the government will tackle the electricity crisis are likely to have been a little disappointed ... " he said.

Mbeki also said his government had budgeted 2.3 billion rand ($296 million) for industrial projects and planned five billion rand in tax incentives over three years to support the industrial program.

DEMAND FOR EARLY ELECTIONS

The main opposition party said Mbeki had failed to "confront the realities facing (the) country head-on" and called for early elections.

"The Democratic Alliance will next week table a motion in Parliament to dissolve the National Assembly in order for a fresh election to be held," party leader Helen Zille said in her weekly letter posted on the party's website.

"We believe that the people of South Africa should decide on which party, not just which faction of the ruling party, they want to lead them out of the crises we face," she said.

The DA has 47 members in the 400-seat parliament and would need other small parties' support to get the two-thirds it needs to pass the motion.
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Old February 13th, 2008, 05:13 AM   #53
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South Africa: Over 13 000 taxis scrapped in govt's recap scheme

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Minister of Public Enterprises Alec Erwin said on Monday that some 13 261 vehicles had been scrapped since the launch of South Africa's taxi recapitalisation programme in October, 2006.

Scrapping allowances of R663-million had also been paid to date in an effort to rid the roads of unsafe and unroadworthy vehicles. A total of some R7,7-billion would be made available for the programme.

The Department of Transport's (DoT's) objective is to have 80% of taxis scrapped by 2010, this figure was brought down from the original target of 90%.

DoT spokesperson Collen Msibi said that an estimated 98 000 to 100 000 taxis were currently on South Africa's roads, but not all of them had to be recapitalised.

He explained that vehicles had been profiled according to their age and roadworthiness and, owners found with taxis not meant to be on the road would have their vehicles impounded.

In June last year Engineering News reported that, of the estimated 100 000 taxis on South African roads only 4,2% - or 4 271 vehicles - had been recapitalised in the eight months since the programme had begun.

By August, some 7 670 taxis had been scrapped and R383,5-million had been paid in scrapping allowances.

Taken over the 16 months since the launch of the project in October, 2006, an average of about 828 vehicles have been scrapped each month.
http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/art...hp?a_id=126639
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Old February 20th, 2008, 08:48 AM   #54
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South Africa's energy crisis sends currency tumbling, slows economic growth
19 February 2008

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) - South Africa is sitting on gold, platinum and other minerals that are selling at record prices on world markets, yet its economy is, quite literally, underpowered.

The rand, the worst performing currency this year, has lost 12 percent against the dollar in the past month since the country was hit with electricity shortages that kept mines from working. The rand reached a low of 7.87 to the US dollar in early February.

Rising inflation and high interest rates coupled with political uncertainty has also made investors increasingly jittery about the country's economic outlook. This month, analysts revised growth forecasts downwards from an expected 5 percent for the fourth consecutive year to 3.9 percent.

President Thabo Mbeki, who has presided over the country's economic growth, steps down next year and is likely to be replaced by new leader of the ruling African National Congress, Jacob Zuma who faces charges of corruption, money laundering, fraud and racketeering.

"General business confidence in the economy has suffered," said economist Iraj Abedian with Pan-African Capital Holdings, a financial services and investment company. "Market uncertainty is weighing on the value of the rand."

Mining companies, including some of the world's largest gold and platinum producers, were forced to shut down for five days last month after the state electricity supplier, Eskom, could not provide a steady source of power.

Demand for electricity in the buoyant economy has outstripped supply. The government has acknowledged it failed to heed a 1998 Eskom warning that new power generation capacity would be needed.

Mines are now receiving 90 percent of their normal power supply, a situation which is expected to last the next four years.

The power shortage has caused losses in production with AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. saying stoppages in January cost it 200,000 ounces. The company, Africa's biggest gold miner, expects production to be down a further 200,000 ounces this year at present electricity supply rates.

Harmony Gold said Friday: "In the light of Eskom's electricity supply disruptions and with mines operating only at 90 percent of Harmony's previous power supply, the company's production for the March 2008 quarter will decrease."

The slowdown in production has sent already high metal prices soaring. And South Africa can't benefit because it's not exporting.

High interest rates of 11 percent -- introduced by the Reserve Bank to curb inflation -- have helped reduce consumer debt but have also put a damper on economic growth and further cooled foreign investment in South Africa.

This lack of confidence is clearly evident in the bond and equities market, which have seen large-scale sell off of South African shares by foreigners this year. Last year the country saw a net inflow of US$11 billion in bonds and equities. In the year to date there has been a net outflow of US$3.8 billion.

This capital outflow has caused further concern about South Africa's large current account deficit and further weakened the rand. The deficit, which reached a 25-year-peak of 8.1 percent during the third quarter of 2007, has been funded by foreign buying of local stocks and bonds.

"It is difficult to see how South Africa is going to get out of this in the short-term," said economist Mike Schussler of T-Sec, an investment holding company. "If you are investing in a country you want high growth to give you a return, especially in equities. South Africa needs that money. But investors are looking elsewhere.

Schussler believes economic growth will slow to less than 2 percent.

"There is no way the South African economy will have the growth it has had in the past three, four years. We were well positioned in emerging markets but not anymore," he said.

Citigroup economist Jean-Francois Mercier, said from a foreign investment point of view, South Africa's power crisis couldn't have happened at a worse time.

"At a time when the global economy is going through a slowdown phase -- a recession in the U.S. and stress in financial markets in other industrialized countries -- risk aversion is great and investors are already more circumspect about investing in emerging countries. Then comes South Africa with its infrastructure problems brought to light by the power crisis," he said.

In his recent state-of-the-nation address, President Mbeki sought to reassure local and foreign business communities. "I am convinced that the fundamentals that have informed our country's forward march in the last 14 years remain in place," he said.

His potential successor, Zuma, has repeatedly emphasized that he does not plan to radically change South Africa's economic policies.

However, Mercier said there was still some concern about the possible changes next year's elections could bring, particularly if there is a change in those in charge of the economic ministries.

"Even though we are hearing the messages that policies will not change, let's see what happens when the new government comes in," he said. "This is a period of transition."
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Old February 20th, 2008, 08:49 AM   #55
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Nigeria vows to triple power generation in 18 months

LAGOS, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua on Tuesday ordered a new task force to triple electricity generation capacity within 18 months, an ambitious goal in a country where power generation has stagnated for decades.

Most Nigerians have little or no access to mains power and economists say this is one of the biggest obstacles to development. Businesses have to run costly diesel generators almost around the clock if they want to function normally.

Yar'Adua had promised in his election campaign to declare a national emergency on power, but he has yet to do so since he took office in May last year. Tuesday's statement was his most precise commitment so far on power generation.

"Yar'Adua has established a presidential committee for the accelerated expansion of Nigeria's power infrastructure," the president's spokesman said in a statement.

"(He) charged the committee with the responsibility of delivering within 18 months 6,000 additional megawatts generation, transmission and distribution capacity," the statement said. By 2011, the target is an extra 11,000 MW.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country with 140 million people, currently has a generation capacity of about 3,000 MW. South Africa, which has a third of the population, has more than 10 times that capacity.

Any administration that delivers more power to the people would be wildly popular. Absence of electricity is the No.1 complaint of most Nigerians, a recent poll found.

CHEAP GAS

The committee is expected to submit an interim report within 30 days and its proposals will be a crucial part of the power emergency yet to be declared by Yar'Adua, the statement said.

The announcement comes days after Yar'Adua approved a new blueprint for developing the gas sector which is partly aimed at providing more cheap gas to power stations.

The committee's job is to audit power infrastructure, propose a securitisation structure to attract credible private investors, and provide pricing proposals to ensure returns on investment but also affordable tariffs for consumers.

Members include the head of the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), a new development-focused investment bank based in Lagos, and the heads of several industrial groups like the Nigerian arm of ExxonMobil and homegrown conglomerate Dangote.

The AFC, a Nigerian initiative, aims to raise both public and private funds to invest in infrastructure in Africa. It says it has almost $1 billion in capital now, mostly from the Nigerian government. It has yet to start any concrete projects.

Nigeria's low power generation is a legacy of decades of corruption and mismanagement under a series of military dictatorships which ended in 1999.

Yar'Adua's predecessor, Olusegun Obasanjo, set a series of targets for increased generation and said his government invested billions of dollars, but nothing changed.

The old National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), popularly known as Never Expect Power Always, was renamed the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) which Nigerians promptly started calling Problem Has Changed Name.
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Old February 20th, 2008, 09:04 AM   #56
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African bank to champion infrastructure financing

SALY PORTUGAL, Senegal, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Sixty percent of the African Development Bank's $8.9 billion soft loan resources for 2008-2010 will go towards infrastructure projects on the continent, a bank official said on Thursday. Last month, donor countries agreed a record level of support for the bank's soft loan window, the African Development Fund, amounting to $8.9 billion for the next three years, 52 percent up from the 2005-2007 period.

The AfDB, whose shareholders include Africa's 53 nations and 24 non-African donor countries, lends commercially to Africa's richest nations and at concessionary rates to poor ones from its Development Fund, financed largely by Western donors.

Addressing an African ministerial conference in Senegal on Infrastructure Financing, Youssouf Ouedraogo, special adviser to AfDB President Donald Kaberuka, said $4.8 billion of these funds for concessionary lending were earmarked for infrastructure.

This included a number of major road and rail projects aimed at criss-crossing the continent with transport corridors.

"These resources are insufficient .... the bank will spare no effort to try to mobilise additional resources coming from multilateral and bilateral partners, sub-regional banks and the private sector," he told delegates at the conference in the coastal resort of Saly Portudal.

Ouedraogo said the bank was already financing and carrying out feasibility studies in major existing transport corridor projects, such as those to link Djibouti on the Red Sea with Dakar and Libreville on the Atlantic coast to the west.

It would also support trans-African highway projects to connect Beira in Mozambique to Lobito in Angola, Dakar in Senegal to Lagos in Nigeria, and Lagos to Mombasa in Kenya.

Financing was also earmarked for three major bridge projects, at Rosso over the Senegal River between Senegal and Mauritania, over the Gambia River in Gambia and the Kazangula bridge over the Zambezi between Zambia and Botswana.

In addition, the bank was contributing to the financing of the rehabilitation and expansion of the giant Inga dam hydropower project in Democratic Republic of Congo.

In his speech to the conference, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade urged African countries to work together to develop the continent's deficient infrastructure under the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), which aims to fight poverty and improve governance.

"For several years, nobody wanted to hear about infrastructure. Today, we are unanimous," he said.

Historically, Africa's infrastructure has been geared to old colonial markets in Europe, resulting in economic isolation for the 40 percent of Africans who live in landlocked countries, and starving local markets of cross-border roads and railways.

"Without infrastructure, there's no development. We need a single voice and a single agenda," Bernard Joba, commissioner for infrastructure at the African Union, told the conference, which was attended by representatives of regional and international organisations.
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Old February 27th, 2008, 08:17 AM   #57
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INTERVIEW-Africa must invest to secure clean water-GE

ALGIERS, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Africa should tackle the prospect of increased water scarcity by investing now in technology and not simply hoping the threat will go away, officials of America's General Electric company said on Sunday.

Governments and development partners around the world must also accept that businesses can only provide clean water to users at a price that provides a commercial return, the executives said, explaining it could not be a "gift."

"The technological breadth we have puts us in a position to really solve any problem, anywhere," Jeff Garwood, president and CEO of GE Water and Process Technologies, a GE unit, told Reuters in an interview after attending the inauguration in Algeria of Africa's biggest seawater desalination plant.

"The only issue is how fast you're going to make a decision and who is going to finance or fund it."

The U.N. climate panel says 75 million to 250 million people on the world's poorest continent are projected to face increased water stress by 2020. In some African countries, it says, yields from rain-fed farming could be cut by up to 50 percent by 2020.

Earl Jones, GE Water's general manager, Global Commercial Development, said the third-largest cause of death globally was water-borne disease, meaning GE was very passionate about "getting at one of the biggest killers on the planet."

But he added: "You have to make a decision to invest in the infrastructure. Hope is not a method. If you hope that it's just going to rain and that's going to take care of it, you could find yourself in a very critical situation."

DROUGHT

"If there is something substantive going on with our climate, the drought that you're in may not end the way that it ended the last time you had a drought. That's something we see government leaders wrestling with globally."

Garwood and Jones were speaking after the opening of Algiers' $250 million Hamma seawater desalination plant, which will produce 200,000 cubic metres a day, enough for a quarter of the Mediterranean capital's more than 3 million population.

GE, which has built, owns and operates hundreds of water treatment plants throughout the world, led the venture to design and build the Hamma plant and has a 25-year contract to operate and maintain the venture.

Garwood said GE expected to expand what he called large structured projects like Hamma by 80 percent in 2008 as interest grows in innovative high- and low-tech ways to supply water in a world increasing aware of the preciousness of the resource.

"There's about a billion plus people who don't have access to clean water every day," Garwood said. "Whether it be the U.N. estimates, our own or others, that number is going to grow to 3 to 4 billion within the next 15 to 20 years."

Garwood said Africa was a "special" case because of the large number of its sources of development finance, many of them spearheaded by celebrities from the world of entertainment.

"Bono talks about it, Oprah (Winfrey) talks about it (Rapper) Jay-Z's got a fund, there's a number of people who have earmarked infrastructure development, and we actually have had conversations with most of them."

"NOT A GIFT"

But he said that while businesses would work to drive down costs, they could only provide their technology at a price that ensured a commercial return.

"Healthy water is not free. That is a fundamental premise," Garwood said. "The notion that there is a clearing price for water is one of the biggest challenges to evolving technologies and getting the right balance in supply and demand."

"We are a business. We have an obligation to understand how to meet our customers' needs and many of these same technologies are going to be applied ... in exactly the same way in Niger or Nebraska."

"The more we can come down the cost curve the more that makes it available for global consumption ... But our idea of technology development is going to be for a market, not for a gift."
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Old February 27th, 2008, 10:45 PM   #58
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Thanks very much hkskyline for these interesting reads.
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Old March 1st, 2008, 08:31 AM   #59
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Yes, thanks allot. I printed all the articles out to read them on the toilet. Don't want to read them on the PC.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 04:54 AM   #60
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Zambia power utility seeks $600 mln for upgrades

LUSAKA, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Zambia's state power utility ZESCO is talking to financiers from Japan, India and western countries about a $600 million financing package needed to boost power output, a senior industry official said on Tuesday.

Monica Chisela, ZESCO senior manager for marketing and public relations, said the $600 million would be initial funding for power projects which are anticipated to cost a total $2 billion to raise power output to 2,500 megawatts.

The mineral-rich southern African country is rationing power to households and other industry to mostly supply copper and cobalt mines, the country's economic mainstay.

Chisela said ZESCO was negotiating with export credit agencies, the World Bank and other financiers.

"ZESCO is sourcing funds from Development Financial Institutions like the African Development Bank, World Bank . . . export credit agencies like India Exim (and) Japan Exim," Chisela told Reuters.

Chisela said ZESCO planned to raise power generation to fix a deficit which has forced industry to reduce output.

"In the short to medium term, about $600 million capital investment is required by ZESCO and over $2 billion capital investment is required in the long term," Chisela said.

Chisela said infrastructure expansion was already in progress and that it was being done under a government-driven power rehabilitation project (PRP).

She said the country's largest power project would be the Kafue Gorge Lower, which is estimated to cost $1 billion. The government has engaged the World Bank's International Finance Corporation, to undertake a feasibility study.

"It is anticipated that, under the current cost estimates, it will cost about $1 billion to construct Kafue Gorge Lower Power Station," Chisela said.

Chisela said expansions and upgrades at the other two power stations, the Kafue Gorge and Kariba North Bank were expected to be completed in December 2008.

"It has been estimated that developing the Itezhi-Tezhi Power Station will cost $230 million and construction works will commence before the end of 2008," Chisela said of the project awarded to Tata Group of South Africa and targeted to be completed by 2012.

Zambia, like many other southern African countries, has been hit by power outages which have forced copper and cobalt mines to scale down production.

Officials say the country cannot meet demand from the mining and agriculture sectors, where expansion in the last couple of years has not been matched by investments in power generation.

ZESCO data shows that 772 megawatts is currently generated from a capacity of 1,300 megawatts, while total Zambia power demand is 1,600 megawatts.

"The current maximum demand is 1,600 megawatts and it is anticipated to reach 2,500 megawatts in the next five years," Chisela said.
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