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African Energy Developments Demand Sustained Investment with new projects in Mozambique, Uganda, and Senegal
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

A recent uptick in direct investment activities in Africa’s energy sector sheds light on the role of sustained investor interest in catalyzing socio-economic growth
Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan with President Museveni of Uganda

 In the past twelve months, the African energy sector has seen several encouraging developments – in the form of both Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and strategic partnerships – that have advanced the sustainable development of its natural resources. In fact, despite a global downturn in investment in 2020, FDI flows to developing economies accounted for 72% of global FDI, the highest share to date. Given the magnitude of Africa’s oil and gas reserves – not to mention its abundant renewable resource wealth – the continent remains a highly attractive market for inbound investment, which is vital for its growth.

Take Uganda, for instance, which is home to one of the largest onshore discoveries in sub-Saharan Africa. Following multiple petroleum discoveries in Uganda’s Albertine Graben – estimated to contain 6.5 billion barrels of oil, of which 1.4 billion are considered recoverable – foreign investments into the country are expected to reach nearly $20 billion. Last April, Total E&P Uganda B.V. signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement with Tullow Oil PC, through which Total will acquire Tullow’s entire 33.34% interests in Uganda’s Lake Albert development project and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). Five months later, the Ugandan Government and Total signed a host government agreement for EACOP, representing a significant step toward reaching a final investment decision. The deal pushes along an extended development process – slowed by infrastructure issues, tax complications, then COVID-19 – that not only promises to bring first oil by 2022, but also provides a pathway to monetization via associated transport infrastructure.

In addition to developments at Lake Albert, the Ugandan Government has proven its commitment to attracting FDI to its hydrocarbon sector through its second licensing round held last year, as well as its invitation to local and foreign entities to forge joint-venture partnerships with the Government. By prioritizing the establishment of mutually beneficial partnerships, the emerging East African producer aims to facilitate the successful transfer of skills, knowledge and technology, initiating an influx of technical expertise and working capital into the country.

“Those who have been locked out from access to opportunity want the same from the energy sector that the energy sectors want from governments.  We must not forget local content, local jobs, local opportunities especially for young people and women” Stated NJ Ayuk Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber ,

Meanwhile, in West Africa, Senegal has been reaping the rewards of a long-standing partnership with Germany, which has resulted in more than one billion Euros in funding, including significant support for small-scale power plants and renewable energy projects. Holding sizeable potential for solar and wind energy development, Senegal serves as a regional leader in renewable deployment as a means of rural electrification. Indeed, energy is a central component of poverty alleviation across Africa, with electricity access enabling greater independence, clean cooking and potable water, as well as dramatically improving the well-being of individuals, businesses and communities alike.  Rural populations are cognizant of the challenges posed by a lack of stable electricity supply – increased urban migration, lack of access to basic services, low economic competitiveness, to name a few – and distributed renewables can represent the fastest and least expensive path to electrification.

European interest in Senegal has shed light on and served as a model for co-operation opportunities between renewable-rich African countries and developed partners, which offer cutting-edge technologies and technical expertise to transform raw resources into viable off-grid and mini-grid solutions.  

Furthermore, while the cost of deploying renewable technology has never been lower, the availability of renewable-focused capital has never been higher. Investment in commercial and industrial solar has demonstrated resilience against the pandemic, continuing to be seen as a safe investment in light of rising utility costs and increasing distribution of both solar and financial technologies. Yet resource potential and low costs of equipment are not enough; Senegal and other resource-rich African nations require active investor interest and strong government support to unlock diversified energy mixes. In turn, a lack of investment represents a pointed threat to the achievement of long-term energy security.

“Young people and women have shown their great resilience, and it is our hope we close these deals in the renewable energy sector, Africans can have a sense of some hope that they will be included in the industry contracts and opportunities. It is no longer correct for the African to be the last hired and the first fired” Concluded Ayuk.

Moreover, without sustained levels of FDI continuing to move the needle on oil, gas and renewable developments, energy export revenues run the risk of being stranded and resources left undeveloped. For emerging producers like Uganda – as well as Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, among several others – this would mean foregoing critical government revenues that could aid in a much-needed, post-COVID-19 economic recovery. FDI is vital to Africa’s growth, and while it may be challenging to procure capital in a tepid global economy, it is even more difficult not to. Yes, COVID-19 has put emerging producers in a tough spot: new exploration is seen as risky, and new producers lack existing assets or low-cost development of marginal fields on which to fall back. However, it is not an option to slow or postpone time-sensitive developments that promise to harness natural resource wealth and make sustainable improvements in standards of living across the continent. Africa requires a sustained flow of investment and has proven time and again that it offers the scope of projects and magnitude of resources that are worthy of foreign capital.

*African Energy Chamber

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The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) circular on the trading of foreign securities by investment platforms in Nigeria
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ibrahim Moshood*

The apex regulator of securities in Nigeria, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has issued a circular, with respect to technology investment platforms providing the Nigerian public with access to foreign securities. The circular dated 8 April 2021, issues a strong warning to these investment platforms and Capital Market Operators (“CMOs”) in partnership with them to provide brokerage services. Both categories of players in the financial space were warned to desist from providing the Nigerian public, with access to foreign securities. This is pivoted on the grounds that these securities are neither registered with the SEC nor listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (“NSE”).

From 2018, technology start-ups have pioneered major disruptions of the financial space in Nigeria. These disruptions have been lauded by Nigerians, particularly at a time when there has been a persistent devaluation of the Naira.  Savvy and upwardly mobile Nigerians have then opted to use these technology platforms, to save in foreign currencies and also purchase foreign stocks that are being offered. Some of these technology investment platforms include Trove, RiseVest, Chaka and Bamboo etc. They typically partner with CMOs in Nigeria for their expertise and already-procured brokerage licence.

As a background, recall that in December 2019, the SEC had published a statement to notify the Nigerian public of its interim orders to restrain an investment platform called Chaka Technologies Limited (“Chaka”). This order came about as a result of the advertisement and sale of foreign securities of companies such as Google, Alibaba, Facebook, Tesla etc. in Nigeria by Chaka. The SEC had informed the Investment Securities Tribunal (“IST”) that Chaka had offered securities for sale “outside the regulatory purview of the Commission and without requisite registration as stipulated by the Investment and Securities Act (“ISA”).

Chaka responded to the allegations above by releasing a press statement, denying the wrongdoing entirely.  However, in March, Chaka announced that it had obtained a newly created licence from the SEC which allows it to offer the services above i.e. advertising and sale of foreign securities to the Nigerian public.

Notwithstanding the development above, the SEC had kept quiet for months on this issue until this recent circular, which Nigerians have reacted to as a deliberate attempt to stifle innovation by the regulators, create a multiple licensing regime, an inordinate drive for revenue and a shoddy attempt at stabilizing exchange rate of the Naira.

Currently, two major questions should be addressed by the SEC.

  1. Is the sale of foreign securities by these platforms prohibited in Nigeria?
  2. Is there a licence issued by the SEC or some other regulatory agency that would allow these investment platforms carry on the business of selling foreign securities in Nigeria?

Hopefully, the SEC will release a more informative circular or press statement clarifying what investment firms should do to continue offering these foreign securities. In the meantime, investors and investment firms alike are enjoined to consult professionals for more clarity.

*Associate, Centurion Law Group,.

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ITFC and the Republic of Cameroon Sign a US$750 Million Three-year Framework Agreement to Support Cameroon’s Key Sectors through Integrated Trade Solutions
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

A EUR 98 Million Murabaha financing agreement with SODECOTON was also signed to facilitate the purchase of agricultural inputs and cotton seeds
Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO of ITFC and H.E. Alamine Ousmane Mey, Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development (IsDB Governor)

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) , a member of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB) and the Republic of Cameroon have signed on April 12, 2021 two agreements in a virtual signing ceremony between H.E. Alamine Ousmane Mey, Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development (IsDB Governor) and Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO, ITFC.

The first signing is a three-year framework agreement amounting to US$ 750 Million under which ITFC will provide to Cameroon a financing envelop of US $ 250 Million annually over a period of three years to facilitate the imports of key commodities in the strategic sectors of energy, mining, in addition to the health sector with medical supplies including healthcare equipment. It will also sustain its already strong support to the priority sector of agricultural with the exports of agricultural commodities such as cotton, soy amongst others.

Through this framework agreement, ITFC will also be extending its support to SMEs and private sector through financing facilities to local banks and financial institutions. It will also support trade development through capacity building initiatives to strengthen key sectors including healthcare. The agreement also enshrines Cameroon’s membership to ITFC’s flagship program, the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) program, which aims to facilitate trade and investment flows between Arab and African regions.

In this regard, H.E. Alamine Ousmane Mey stated that, “We are very pleased with the agreements signed with ITFC. The three-year renewal of our cooperation framework is a sign of the good and strong cooperation between Cameroon and ITFC, and of the continued goodwill to implement a successful planning strategy in the country. The US $750 Million financing will help the Cameroonian government consolidate its economic recovery efforts in the specific context of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, by facilitating the importation of crucial energy products, medical supplies, and agriculture inputs, whilst strengthening the fundamentals of the economy of Cameroon through private sector and SME development. This is an opportunity for us to reiterate Cameroon’s sincere thanks to ITFC.”

The CEO of ITFC, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol reiterated the Corporation’s commitment to supporting economic recovery in Cameroon saying that, “We are keen to continue our successful collaboration with the Government of Cameroon through providing trade solutions that best meet the needs of the country, especially in view of the impact of COVID-19. We are committed to working closer with our partners and to support the country in its efforts to develop important sectors such as agriculture, especially cotton, which is a major export commodity, as well as to support the country’s financial institutions to boost private sector development and SME growth.”

The second signing is related to a EUR 98 Million Murabaha Financing agreement in favour of Société de Développement du Coton (SODECOTON), to facilitate the purchase of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, seed cotton, and soybeans. ITFC has a long-standing relationship with Cameroon and SODECOTON. ITFC financing to date has enabled the country to achieve a record production of 328,454 tons of seed cotton collected in 2019/2020, of which 115,000 tons of cotton lint were exported despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the International Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC):
The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) is a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group. It was established with the primary objective of advancing trade among OIC member countries, which would ultimately contribute to the overarching goal of improving socioeconomic conditions of the people across the world. Commencing operations in January 2008, ITFC has provided US$55 billion of financing to OIC member countries, making it the leading provider of trade solutions for these member countries’ needs. With a mission to become a catalyst for trade development for OIC member countries and beyond, the Corporation helps entities in member countries gain better access to trade finance and provides them with the necessary trade-related capacity building tools, which would enable them to successfully compete in the global market.

*SOURCE International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC)

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French oil company, Total, defends the indefensible as investment decision is signed for a massive climate-destroying crude oil pipeline in East Africa
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

Global – French oil company, Total, has been accused of ignoring significant human rights violations and huge environmental and climate risks as it pushed ahead yesterday with the signing of an investment decision to build the world’s longest heated crude oil pipeline through Uganda and Tanzania.

Although the signing will likely see Total, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation and the Ugandan and Tanzanian national oil companies ramp up their efforts to secure financing and insurance, the project still has many hurdles to overcome and affected communities and civil society groups are calling on financial institutions to refuse to support the project.

Instead of responding to the urgent needs of affected communities and repeated alerts from civil society, Total has focused its recent efforts on a greenwashing communication strategy. 

A week after more than 260 African and international organisations sent an open letter to 25 banks urging them not to finance the construction of the EACOP, Total issued statements on its website describing its environmental and social risk assessment and mitigation strategies for the EACOP and Tilenga oil extraction project as “rigorous” and claiming to act “responsibly and transparently” on the social and environmental issues related to the projects. 

The #StopEACOP Alliance has since examined the claims and the previously confidential reports, and is today issuing a detailed response. The statement clarifies several misleading figures Total offered on key aspects of the project, such as the number of oil wells to be drilled within Murchison Falls National Park, and the number of project-affected people for Tilenga and EACOP. Contrary to the company’s claims, more than 100,000 persons and dozens of sensitive ecosystems in Uganda and Tanzania stand to suffer the consequences of the company’s actions.

Vitally, for a corporation that seeks to position itself as somehow being a climate leader, Total chooses to ignore the massive climate risks posed by building a pipeline to transport crude oil that will generate a new source of 34.3 million metric tons of carbon emissions at the peak of its operation.

The response statement, which draws from dozens of independent assessments, NGO reports, and community petitions, clearly disproves the claim by Total’s CEO, Patrick Pouyanné, that the projects would be “carried out in an exemplary manner and create value for the people in both countries.”

These criticisms are not new: the flaws of Total’s handling of the projects have been well documented by independent experts and civil society. 

The Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment has previously stated that the EACOP Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) is “not fit for purpose,” while Oxfam and the International Federation for Human Rights have said that Total has failed to address a large portion of the core recommendations the NGOs made in their community-based human rights impact assessments.

The company is also facing a historical lawsuit in France for its failure to prevent human rights violations and environmental damage linked to these projects. 

#StopEACOP Alliance members reacted today to Total’s greenwashing efforts and the signing of the investment decision. 

Quotes from spokespeople

The agreements concluded   yesterday is a huge setback in the fight against climate change in which the governments and Uganda, Tanzania and Total say to be committed to. Launching oil projects and the associated construction of the pipeline at this moment where global actors are doing their best to keep all all fossil fuels in the ground is likely to serve the only interests of Total as the shareholder while sacrificing the livelihoods of millions of people in the Victoria bassin, destroying the rich and unique ecosystems and adding over 34 million tons of unnecessary CO2 emissions every single year. – Landry Ninteretse, Regional Director

Total’s decision to move forward with opening a new oil frontier in Africa is in blatant contradiction to the CEO’s attempt to depict the oil major as a climate-conscious, responsible, multi-energy company. EACOP will bring climate chaos and biodiversity loss while already causing serious human rights violations. It’s high time for financial institutions to stand up against the group’s criminal acts. We call on banks to publicly commit to stay clear from the project and investors to vote against Total’s climate strategy and the renewal of the mandate of its CEO Patrick Pouyanné the group’s AGM in May. – Lucie Pinson, Founder and Executive Director of Reclaim Finance

There is no reason for Total to engage in oil exploration and the construction of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) because this means fuelling the destruction of the planet and worsening the already existing climate disasters in the most affected areas. There is no future in the fossil fuel industry and we cannot drink oil. We demand Total to rise up for the people and the planet. – Vanessa Nakate, Founder of the Rise Up Climate Movement

While Total claims to act ‘responsibly and transparently’, our engagements with district leaders and local communities whose land is being compulsorily acquired for the EACOP project shows otherwise. In March 2021, Total published the Resettlement Action Plan [RAP] for the EACOP project online to ostensibly foster information sharing. However, district leaders and local affected communities were unaware that the RAP exists until we informed them about it between April 6 and 8, 2021. The district leaders and communities remain unaware of the contents of the RAP. How can communities for whom the RAP is intended be among the last to know about it? The truth is that Total sought to portray itself as being transparent when the company isn’t where it matters the most, with the local affected communities. – Dickens Kamugisha, CEO of Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) 

There are grave concerns about the securitisation of oil activities and intimidation. Community liaison officers employed by Total follow CSOs into meetings which creates an atmosphere of fear, as communities have reported that they are intimidated by the community liaison officers. Communities are intimidated when they speak out against low or unfair assessments for their property that is being compulsorily acquired. EACOP-affected communities have also reported being forced to sign compensation assessment forms that they don’t agree with following intimidation by security agencies alongside land acquisition consultants. – Kayinga Muddu Yisito, the Network Co-ordinator for Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE)

The oil companies are trying to dress up the investment decision signing ceremony, but fortunately this climate-destroying project is far from a done deal. Total and CNOOC still need to secure insurance and raise $2.5 billion in debt financing for the EACOP to move forward and they are going to struggle mightily to find enough banks and insurance providers willing to associate themselves with such a reckless project and assume its manifold risks on their books.  – David Pred, Executive Director of Inclusive Development International


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Nigeria: The Man Who Would Be President
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Richard Mammah

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu chaired the 2021 Sarduana Annual Memorial Lecture in Kaduna.Photo courtesy

Interest in the succession to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari was raised a notch higher recently when the National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Party, APC, and already touted front-runner in the 2023 presidential process, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, undertook two high profile visits to the north-ward Kano and Kaduna states.

A Yoruba from the South West, Tinubu who has been a two-time governor in Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, Lagos, was presumably now formally reaching out for the handshake across Jebba as part of what pundits believe is part of a wider process of throwing his hat into the ring and definitively signaling that he was prepared and ready to take the reins of office after President Buhari would have completed his second term in office by May 2023.

Given Nigeria’s political divisions and demographic make-up, it is apparent that no single political player can all by himself work his way into the most exalted office in the land.

First, the constitution prescribes that any intending office holder at this level must not only be fielded by a contending political party, he must also secure a majority of the votes from the contest and a minimum of 25 percent of the votes recorded in two thirds of the 36 states in the country and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. For Buhari who has for many years, commanded a relative cult-like following across large swathes of the North, meeting this electoral criteria was even a challenge until he found better cross-cutting relationships across more segments of the country.

So, for an aspirant like Tinubu, he must ford the triple hurdles of getting a party nomination, a majority of ballots and a quarter of the votes cast in all 36 states and Abuja, the imperative of reaching across Nigeria’s divisions cannot be discountenanced if his ambition is to attract the required traction. And underscoring this point is the fact that he had even before now almost practically been spending large amounts of time in his Abuja lodgings, from where he had been quietly reaching out to more and more of his supporters and foot soldiers in the North.

Some of this attention surely helped Tinubu in attracting the fairly enthusiastic audience and crowd showings that were recorded in the course of this recent Northern showing.

But not many think that the Jagaban Borgu should now go to sleep after his Kaduna/Kano performance in the belief that all is well with his aspiration as far as the North is concerned.

One of such expressions of caution is coming from the activist and former Senator representing the Kaduna Central District in the National Assembly, Shehu Sani. He has advised the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress to be generally wary in his dealings with northerners, and especially members of the Northern political class.

Rather than be taken in by platitudes and speeches made at such orchestrated events as his appearances at Arewa House, Kaduna and in Kano, the former Senator is advising the political hopeful to ensure that he gets his own team that would work with him and in the process also afford him better counsel as to the deeper and underlying issues about how well or not he is accepted in the region.

Affirming that at the moment, the majority of the common people in the North do not exactly support Tinubu’s presidential ambition, he urged him to take lessons from the experiences of the likes of Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola who finally found out that he could not count on the support of quite critical northerners that he had been relying on.

“Well, the person of Asiwaju is the one I know in the field of struggle. He was one of those in the struggle for the restoration of democracy and also a leading figure in the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) while I was part of the fight for democracy. We worked together for MKO’s project and for the resistance against the annulment.’

Making an allusion to an earlier tweet where he had counselled that Tinubu should get Hausa speakers who are loyal to him to help with proper translations of remarks made by Northerners in the course of his trips, he remarked that this would help get a proper and accurate gauge that he could work with, even as he linked it with the travails of MKO Abiola.

“I know [Tinubu] personally. But what I tweeted is more of a Biblical/Shakespearian allegory or whatever one can use in sending message to someone and what I am trying to say is that as he is allegedly moving towards contesting for the presidency, he should try to know the actual feeling on the ground as far as the North is concerned because I know what Abiola went through.

“Abiola served the North more than any other businessman from the western part of Nigeria. He printed the Quran and shared it to many Muslims. He donated houses and empowered people; he supported academics and religious clerics. Abiola was one of those passionate about the unity of Nigeria because of the solidarity between the South-West and the northern part of Nigeria. But how did he end up? They (northerners) conspired against him and sabotaged him and at the end of the day, he was gone.”

Keen observers say Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu used his trip to the North to meet voters and power brokers who are normally not on social media.Photo credit twitter

A mine field of booby traps

The deterioration of affairs in the polity at the moment has even made political permutations more difficult as there are indeed an ever increasing array of contending matters. One of these is the inconvenient issue of religion. Though it has almost always been a factor, it promises to take a high note of its own in the Tinubu aspiration at some point in the process. This is more so when the same Tinubu had also been a front-line contender for the VP position in 2015 before religion and several other related-intrigue points stopped him.

In the 2023 drive, the religion card is already registering in two ways in preliminary debates of the subject. One, against the backdrop of the ethno-religious tensions in the land at the moment, would the dominant Christian electorate of the South eventually see the Muslim Tinubu as their own candidate without any scruples? And even for the North, what kind of VP choice should Tinubu be considering? A Northern Christian to balance his Southern Muslim card? But should he take that route, would the majority Northern Muslims see such as choice as sufficiently representative of their own ethos? Heads, tails, this is surely going to be one tough nut to crack.

There is also the issue of South West, South East relations and the continuing clamour for a President of South East origin.

Says the political activist and pundit, Tony Akata:

‘Tinubu’s major obstacles would come from the South, that is from within the Yoruba and Igbo blocs. He is also thinking he would get the support of the North but this is quite tricky. If they get, say a Tambuwal to run against him in the North, he would then have even major issues even in the North. We should not forget the experiences of Abiola and even Obasanjo so easily when it comes to having politicians from the South having dealings with the North.’

But there are those who