Items of Interest: May 15

The following items from May 15 may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa:

Côte d’Ivoire: Jean Likane Yagui of the opposition Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire declined being appointed vice president of the country’s National Assembly.

Significance: The National Assembly is forming new leadership following the February 8 resignation by Guillaume Soro of the presidency of the institution. Soro was succeeded by Amadou Soumahoro, who had been President Alassane Ouattara’s minister for political affairs. Though Soumahoro, a member of the ruling Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP), wants to instill representative leadership in the National Assembly, Yagui cited a lack of consultation when declining the appointment. More significantly, however, by rejecting the position in the National Assembly, Yagui’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire is conveying that the time for reconciliation with the Ouattara-led RHDP, aimed to ensure a peaceful presidential election in 2020, is passed.  

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Mining Code sensitization activities are underway to inform civil society at the national, provincial, and host community level of their beneficiation.

Significance: The country’s Mining Code was amended in 2018 and resulted in adverse legislative and regulatory changes for foreign mining companies operating in the country. Several foreign mining companies have pressed the President Félix Tshisekedi administration to revise or otherwise moderate the effects of the Mining Code of 2018 so as to rebalance their economic relationship toward a more equitable partnership. Given the consensus nature of the Congo national as well as provincial governments and institutions all of whom remain heavily influenced by allies of the Common Front for Congo alliance that is led by former President Joseph Kabila (whose government passed the revised Mining Code in 2018), the outlook for mining sector economic policy has been continuity. That civil society at all levels of the Congo state are being read into their opportunity for beneficiation would underscore the outlook for a Mining Code that asserts greater Congo equity at the expense of the foreign mining companies.

Gabon: Minister of Petroleum Pascal Houagni Ambouroué briefed the Senate committee on economic affairs on revisions being made to the government’s Hydrocarbons Code.

Significance: The Gabonese government is revising the Hydrocarbons Code so as to improve the country’s oil and gas investment attractiveness. Declining crude oil production levels, combined with general country-wide socioeconomic discontent, are informing the government’s efforts to reverse economic stagnation. The draft code includes provisions to reduce royalty and taxation rates for conventional, deep and ultra deep offshore blocks, and extends time periods for exploration, development, and production activities. The government is pressing to pass the draft Hydrocarbons Code into law so that the bidding round currently underway for offshore oil and gas blocks achieves a successful completion by the end of September.

Niger: At least seventeen Nigerien soldiers were killed and eleven wounded during an ambush near Tongo Tongo in the country’s Tillabéri region bordering Mali. 

Significance: The magnitude of killed and wounded makes the incident anomalous. The attack likely by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb or its indigenous proxies was preceded by a day by the killing of a priest and theft of his vehicle in the same region, and by two days by an attack on the maximum security Koutoukalé prison that houses high value Islamist militant leadership. The area of attack is situated along the corridor between Niger’s capital of Niamey and the Malian city of Gao. The incident was likely the work of Islamist militants setting an ambush against Nigerien forces acting in hot pursuit following the prison raid and who wanted to detain the militants before they reached their safe houses in Malian territory.  

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