The following items from May 24 may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa:
Burkina Faso: Prime Minister Christophe Dabiré led a groundbreaking ceremony for the Canadian-owned Orezone gold mine project in Bomboré, Ganzourgou province.
Significance: The gold mine groundbreaking ceremony is Dabiré’s second in as many weeks and follows the prime minister’s launch of the West African Resources-owned Sanbrado project on May 10. Both projects are located in the same region southeast of the country’s capital of Ouagadougou. Though Burkina Faso has experienced a significant uptick in Islamist militant attacks, which occur nearly daily, these attacks are more commonly found in western, northern, and eastern regions of the country, and not where the Orezone or Sanbrado mining projects are located or where the ore will be routed for export. Additionally, the victims of Islamist militant attacks are mostly Burkinabé nationals, comprising both civilians and government officials (the latter to include defense and security forces, as well as civil servants). Gold mining personnel and assets have not been attacked, though with the exception of the January 15 deadly kidnapping of the Canadian expatriate working for the Progress Minerals project in the northeastern Oudalan province near the Niger border. The Dabiré government is very pleased to support the development of these gold mining projects so as to reverse adverse confidence the country faces from persistent Islamist militant attacks.
Liberia, Guinea: Liberian Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel McGill led a delegation to Guinea to discuss transfrontier border security.
Significance: Two items stand out with the visit by the Liberian delegation (which included the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia) to the Guinean ministry of defense. One is ensuring uninterrupted border security cooperation in support of planned iron ore exports from the Zogota mining project in Guinea that will be channeled through Liberia’s port of Buchanan. The other item is discussing security coordination in the tri-border area between Liberia, Guinea, and Côte d’Ivoire. The latter area has been a region of widespread trafficking of materiel and manpower during civil wars each country has experienced since the 1990s. Though Liberia and Guinea are stable and largely peaceful, ethnopolitical tensions in Côte d’Ivoire are rising ahead of that country’s presidential election due in 2020, an event that in previous electoral cycles triggered national-level violence.
Nigeria: The Senate passed a redrafted version of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill.
Significance: The Petroleum Industry Governance Bill had previously been approved by Nigeria’s Senate on April 16, but concerns held by the Muhammadu Buhari administration meant the Nigerian president would not provide assent to it. The Petroleum Industry Bill aims as a whole to provide significant and foreign investor-friendly restructuring to the legislative and regulatory regime controlling the upstream, midstream and downstream oil and gas sectors in Nigeria. The complexity and comprehensiveness of the Bill, however, has contributed to delays in seeing the legislation, which potentially upsets entrenched domestic patterns of doing business, signed into law. Given the political timing in Nigeria, that the redrafted Petroleum Industry Governance Bill was approved by the opposition Senate majority leader Bukola Saraki and that Buhari is on May 29 to be inaugurated for a second term as president of Nigeria, it is not likely that this version will be assented to, and rather that the Buhari administration will elect to settle into its second term before it resolves on the significant but controversial piece of legislation.