Items of Interest: April 17

The following items from April 17 may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa:

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Barrick Gold CEO Mark Bristow presented on the company’s Kibali Gold performance and expressed optimism for cooperation with the Tshisekedi administration and Congo government.

Significance: The Barrick Gold CEO said the company is on track to achieve a gold mining production target for 2019 of 750,000 ounces. Additionally, Bristow spoke on working with the Congo government on concerns for the country’s Mining Code that was revised in 2018 in order to create an equitable business climate. As for further revising the Mining Code, given the composition and policy priorities of the yet-to-be-formed Tshisekedi cabinet and other governing bodies (notably the national assembly, the provincial assemblies, the provincial governorships), the new Congo president faces considerable political constraints in bringing about substantial mining sector reforms.

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Mali: President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta called for a national consultative forum to be held in the country from April 23-28.

Significance: Addressing political and socioeconomic grievances held among constituents of central and northern Mali is critical toward resolving sustained militant violence the country is experiencing. The Malian president will be required to not merely facilitate inclusive and representative dialogue but demonstrate governance that elevates socioeconomic livelihoods in these austere regions of the country. Achieving that demonstration is difficult even if Keïta possesses the political intent to do so. 

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Mauritania: The country’s electoral commission confirmed that the presidential election will be held on June 22.

Significance: The exact date for Mauritania’s presidential election had been in a bit of flux but is now clearly settled. Defense Minister Mohamed Ould El Ghazouani of the ruling Union for the Republic party remains the favorite to succeed outgoing President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. Regime continuity assures policy stability especially in the country’s nascent offshore oil and gas industry receiving significant investment commitments.

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Mozambique: The Assembly of the Republic approved by consensus three pieces of legislation to assert matters of decentralized governance in the country.  

Significance: That the proposed laws on decentralized governance were passed by consensus means reasonable and non-combative cooperation between the ruling Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) and the opposition Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) parties were held. The bills, once signed into law by President Filipe Nyusi, will provide for the ground rules for the cohabitation between presidential-appointed secretaries of state, who will have oversight over administrative and financial governance, and the popularly-elected provincial governors and local officials.  

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Nigeria: The Senate passed the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, 2019 and forwarded it to the House of Representatives for concurrence.

Significance: Passed among seven pieces of proposed legislation, the Petroleum Industry Bill has languished in the Nigerian parliament for years, due to its complicated comprehensiveness and resultant destabilization of entrenched political-economic interests. That the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, 2019 was passed by the Senate doesn’t mean it will become law: the legislative priorities of the current Senate, led by controversial Senate president Bukola Saraki of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, will be succeeded by new members from the ruling All Progressives Congress who were elected on January 23 and who will be installed in June. Reform of petroleum industry governance in Nigeria is, however, crucial to instill international oil company confidence in the sector’s regulatory regime. 

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Tanzania: The government aims to pass legislation providing for investor disputes in or with the country to be settled through Tanzanian arbitration and judicial means.

Significance: A component of the Public Private Partnership Bill, 2018, resolving potential investor disputes in Tanzanian courts are seen by the Tanzanian government as elevating transparency and minimizing costs. On the other hand, foreign investors will worry Tanzanian arbitration courts and judicial institutions are subject to political interference. Legislating away investment protection provisions providing for the international arbitration of investor-government disputes will risk discouraging foreign investor confidence who already hold concerns for a hostile business environment in Tanzania.

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