Items of Interest: September 4

A cabinet reshuffle in Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo Prime Minister Ilunkamba’s inaugural address, and preparations for the International Court of Justice hearing between Kenya and Somalia are actions from September 4 that may emerge to become significant factors impacting geomarket developments in Africa.

Côte d’Ivoire: President Alassane Ouattara is presiding over a cabinet reshuffle. 

Significance: Ouattara is meeting with Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly and Vice President Daniel Kablan Duncan to formulate a reshuffle of the government cabinet. The reshuffle will likely be Ouattara’s last between now and the country’s presidential election that is scheduled to be held in October 2020. The focus of the new Ouattara administration will likely be to install members of the ruling Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) with instructions for efficient service delivery and sustaining the country’s high economic growth rates. Given how the country’s principal opposition parties are in developing stages of crafting an oppositional alliance to run against Ouattara (or his preferred successor) in 2020, it is unlikely that any influential members of Ivorian opposition parties will be included in the new Ouattara administration. 

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba delivered an inaugural address to parliament to present his government’s priorities. 

Significance: Ilunkamba’s address to the Congolese national assembly on September 2 was his first (he was appointed prime minister on May 20) and follows the designation of sixty-five members of his cabinet, whom the parliament will vote on for swearing into office. The Congolese prime minister highlighted the high-level priorities his government will be tasked with, to include restoring the Congo’s geostrategic stature, as well as in improving economic and political governance. Specific items were not addressed, meaning the process of introducing adjustments to the country’s legislation or regulations, notably the Mining Code, is still a long-term effort subject to an entangling internal balance of power renegotiation that is premature for President Félix Tshisekedi to confront.    

Kenya, Somalia: Kenyan and Somali government officials are preparing for the International Court of Justice hearing September 9-13 that is to resolve the two country’s maritime boundary dispute.

Significance: A satisfactory outcome for the Somali government would allow Mogadishu to auction offshore crude oil and natural gas blocks for commercial exploration and development that currently are in waters of disputed jurisdiction. Kenyan government efforts to seek an out-of-court settlement or diplomatic resolution have been unsuccessful, to which essentially the whole of the Kenyan government is unhappy with. Should a determination be made that awards jurisdiction to Somalia, a new round of diplomatic activity would likely commence and would include employing other tools of the Kenyan state, to include the threat of a Kenya Defense Forces pullout of the African Union Mission to Somalia, where they have been deployed since 2011, and the status of Somali refugee camps in Kenya.

Other items of note:

-Ossufo Momade of the opposition Mozambique National Resistance called on his party’s military junta leader Mariano Nhongo to come back to reason.

-The South African parastatal Transnet called for a feasibility study to build a liquified natural gas storage and regasification terminal at the port of Richards Bay. 

-Activities to construct the East African Crude Oil Pipeline in Uganda, which would export Ugandan crude to global markets via Tanzania, have been suspended citing a breakdown in commercial negotiations with Total and CNOOC. 

-Tanzanian President John Magufuli said he forgave former cabinet ministers January Makamba (Union Affairs and the Environment) and William Ngeleja (Energy and Minerals) whom he fired after obtaining telephone conversations of them speaking in an adverse manner of him. 

-Zimbabwe will host a summit of Former Liberation Movements in Victoria Falls from September 8-12. 

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