The Helmet Feeds Stay updated with every news article on your favorite constrcution news site. South Africa: Could politically connected elites profit from power outages ESKOM

On Monday, ESKOM, the largest South African power utility, began implementing its second round of “managed” blackouts this year, cutting 2,000 megawatts from its grid because it could not meet demand.

Tshediso Matona, ESKOM’s chief executive, has warned about the possibility of a total collapse of the power grid.

South Africa’s political elites are profiting from the crisis by awarding themselves massive contracts related to the construction of new power stations. In particular, a company directed by the wife of African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe received a R639 billion ($55 million) contract for providing food to workers at the construction sites of the new Medupi and Kusile power plants.

The Sunday Times reported that the Kusile contract was awarded on October 1, 2013 to RoyalMnandi Duduza, part of the politically connected Bidvest group of which Nolwandle Mantashe, is a director. The five-year contract is worth R639 million, one of the largest ever sums for catering.

Another, worth R787 million, was awarded to Lephalale Site Services for catering at Medupi in Limpopo and expires this month. Then a new contract, “likely to push catering costs closer to R2 billion,” kicks in.

The Times, sister publication of the Sunday Times, reports that Nolwandle is also chief executive of Tamorah Resources, “a new company hoping to secure contracts to supply coal to ESKOM.”

In response to criticism over the impropriety of the awarding of the RoyalMnandi contract, she said, “I do not rely on political connections to do business but on capable black and white people.”

At a meeting of businessmen earlier in January, Matona was quoted as saying that “one unexpected event at any of ESKOM’s power stations could push the country to the total failure of the national electricity system” that could take weeks to resolve. ESKOM spokesman Andrew Etzinger said that Matona had been “misinterpreted” because of incorrect grammar.

Construction at Medupi and Kusile was announced after rolling blackouts began in 2005. Chancellor House Holdings, an ANC investment vehicle, owned 25 percent of the chosen boiler supplier, Hitachi Power Africa. Boiler construction and software were subcontracted after Hitachi's welding on boilers and its software failed tests.

The Public Protector probed the company’s ESKOM contract, not least because Valli Moosa, then ESKOM chairman, is a senior ANC member. The inquiry concluded that Moosa, now Anglo American Platinum chair, “failed to manage the conflict of interests,” and Hitachi could not guarantee that the ruling ANC would not benefit from the R50 million profit it stood to make through its Chancellor House stake.

Medupi is set to generate its first power this year—18 months behind schedule and at an estimated cost of R154 billion, more than twice the R69 billion originally projected.

Costs at Kusile have ballooned to R172 billion from an initially budgeted R80 billion.
The ANC called on ESKOM to “fast-track” construction at the two new power stations after the collapse of a coal silo at the utility’s Majuba facility in Mpumalanga led to rolling blackouts amid heavy rains in early December.

A year ago ESKOM was forced to ask major industrial clients including SABMiller, BHP Billiton and Glencore Xstrata to temporarily cut consumption by at least 10 percent to ease strain on the national grid. Irregular electricity supply is often cited as a reason for the spate of reviews and downgrades of public and private South African debt by international credit rating agencies.Power Grid Lines

Construction at Kusile ran behind schedule partly because of delays in the signing of a coal supply contract with Anglo American Inyosi Coal. Former ESKOM CE Brian Dames said in 2013 this was because powerful interests wanted ESKOM to sign a contract with a company that was black-controlled. As it is, Inyosi Coal is only 27 percent black-owned, by a consortium that includes Lithemba Investments and Pamodzi Investment Holdings, in which among others, former Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, have been involved.

Matona, the current ESKOM CE, attracted widespread ire with his remarks that the country, but not ESKOM, was “in crisis.”
At the Lethabo power plant which burns coal like most ESKOM power stations, the ash system failed. The plant effectively choked on its own waste, worsening the blackouts in December.

According to a clinic in the area, more people have shown signs of respiratory problems. Yet the Department of Environmental Services of the ANC government that appointed Matona, was not even aware of the dense cloud of toxic ash settling over the area.

In the run-up to the 2010 world soccer tournament, according to Matona, the government would not allow ESKOM to shut down plants for routine maintenance. With the 2009 general election adding pressure, ESKOM ran its existing plants at full tilt to keep the lights on at all costs, leading to more frequent breakdowns. “We are paying the price of these decisions,” Matona said. “That’s why we’re in the situation we’re in now.”

ESKOM warned as early as the first administration of former President Thabo Mbeki(1999-2004) that new investment in generating capacity was needed. Hoping to break up and privatise the utility, however, the neoliberals surrounding Mbeki ignored the advice until it was too late.

Mpumalanga, home province of Kusile, is like Limpopo, has also forked over to politically-connected businesses. Last March City Press reported that the newspaper was in possession of “copies of bank statements that show R39.8 million was paid to celebrity event planner Carol Bouwer in the space of a week.”

Bouwer’s company, which did not bid competitively for the job, was tasked by Mpumalanga Provincial Director-General Nonhlanhla Mkhize with organising memorial events following the death of former president Nelson Mandela on December 5, 2013.

This outlay took place with the full connivance of provincial Premier David Mabuza. As a result, City Press reported, “Mpumalanga’s government... shifted R70 million from six of its departments' service delivery budgets to cover employee salaries...” The affected departments included social welfare services, public works and finance.


Source: Thabo Seseane Jr./WSWS

]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 05:54:50 -0600 Maritime: Ghana to expand port infrastructure Tema Port

Port authorities in the West African states must act together to explore the full potential of the region's maritime industry to enable them compete in the global economy, Richard Anamoo, Director-General of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), has said.

According to him, there is the need to enhance trade and investment opportunities for ports infrastructure development considering the growth in traffic and increase in imports.

Anamoo said that the management of the ports has been fraught with many challenges including terrorism, pirating, the challenge of trade facilitation, among other and that it will take partnerships to be able to stand the test of time.

He urged the banks to form a syndicate that could pool their resources to finance high-yielding but huge investments, like port infrastructure projects.

Currently no bank in Ghana could solely provide the needed credit facilities for needed port expansion.

He indicated that his outfit always falls on foreign banks to finance its projects, because locals do not have the capacity to lend.

Anamoo indicated that Public-Private Partnership (PPP) was very necessary to the development of ports’ capacity in Africa.

He said PPP was needed for capacity expansion in infrastructure, superstructure, communication infrastructure, human capacity development and hinterland access infrastructure.

GPHA is proposing a single window system to help reduce the congestion at the ports.

Tema Port

According the GPHA, there are too many government agencies operating currently at the ports which contribute to the delays in the clearing of the goods. 

Anamoo also mentioned that seaports are part of a country’s supply chain and their efficiency is a measure of the country’s logistics connectivity index.

“That is why seaports have been described variously as the “gateways” of a country’s international trade and the “lungs” of a country’s economy,” adding that Seaports play strategic roles in the socio-economic development of all nations and that landlocked country depend on seaports for their development.


Source: Aiswarya Lakshmi/Marine Link


]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 05:02:40 -0600 Oxford Business Group Partners GIPC for The Report - Ghana Edition 2015

The global publishing, research and consultancy firm Oxford Business Group (OBG) shined the spotlight on the country’s oil and gas industry, charting its infrastructure development, which includes the new Atuabo Gas Processing Plant.

The publication also looks at shifts in industry trends, including a move to up the emphasis on downstream products, following heavy investment in refining capacity, as well as Ghana’s push to boost local participation.

OBG’s latest report contains a contribution from President John Dramani Mahama, together with a detailed, sector-by-sector guide for investors.

It also features a wide range of interviews with leading representatives, including the Deputy Minister of Finance Mona Helen K Quartey, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Nii Osah Mills, the CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Mawuena Trebarh and the Governor of the Bank of Ghana Kofi Wampah.

International personalities, including the US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, the Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa and the Sahel at the German Federal Foreign Office Georg Wilfried Schmidt and the President of the African Development Bank Donald Kaberuka also give their views on Ghana’s development.

The Report: Ghana 2014 maps out the country’s efforts to expand and diversify its electricity supply, while considering the role earmarked for the Power Africa initiative in tapping investment for the sector.

There is also extensive coverage of the country’s mining industry, which, despite a difficult 2014, remains a key contributor to the economy.

With a modernisation drive under way, OBG’s latest report highlights Ghana’s efforts to breathe new life into its agricultural sector, which remains dominated by cocoa.

The publication also mulls the macroeconomic challenges Ghana faces, led by fiscal deficits, inflation and a weaker currency, while analysing the boost that support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) could help in galvanising a recovery.

Andrew Jeffreys, OBG’s CEO, agreed that while the Group’s report on Ghana had highlighted several macroeconomic issues which needed addressing, the country should remain a draw for investors.

“Ghana’s position as a major regional upstream producer is now firmly established, while fresh finds may well prove significant,” he said. “With a new gas processing plant in place providing feedstock and boosting efficiency, and other sectors, such as ICT, ripe for expansion, all signs are that Ghana will continue to notch up steady growth, even as its economic base shifts somewhat.”

Managing Editor Robert Tashima said that while Ghana’s fiscal situation was undoubtedly challenging and had been exacerbated by softening prices for key exports, a number of the economy’s underlying aspects remained strong. “If current spending can be brought under control and secondary activity increased – which should be manageable once the gas infrastructure is up and running – then the medium-term outlook is bullish,” he said.

The Report: Ghana 2015 will look in detail at the reforms which the government is implementing in a bid to improve the country’s budgetary position and attract new investment.

It will also outline the infrastructure projects earmarked for development, which are expected to be instrumental in boosting GDP growth.

The Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on research with OBG for its forthcoming report on the country’s economy.

Under the MOU, which marks a fourth year of collaboration, OBG will have access to the centre’s resources to compile The Report: Ghana 2015.

Mawuenah Trebarh, GIPC’s CEO, said that OBG’s reports on Ghana had quickly become recognised as a trusted source of economic intelligence, serving as a valuable tool for investors both locally and on a global platform.

“As we prepare to build new linkages and support growth for Ghanaian businesses in the long term, we look forward to continued collaboration with OBG,” she said.

OBG’s Editorial Manager Matt Johnson added that Ghana’s plans for reforms would be well received by investors, while its commitment to reducing the budget deficit to 3.5% of GDP by 2017 had been noted by the IMF.

“Ghana’s economic outlook is positive, despite the challenges it faces, while the administration’s plans to invest in transport and utility infrastructure and encourage industrial expansion should benefit long-term growth,” he said.

“The GIPC is a major player in Ghana’s push to attract foreign investors to the country and support local business development in key areas, such as electricity infrastructure. I am delighted that its team and Ghana’s business community will once again share their local knowledge with us as we begin work on The Report: Ghana 2015.”

The Report: Ghana 2015 will be a vital guide to the many facets of the country, including its macroeconomics, infrastructure, banking and other sectoral developments.

It will also contain a range of interviews with leading representatives and personalities. The publication will be available in print or online.


Source: SpyGhana

]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 04:46:58 -0600 Ghana: Development of 40-Acre Logistics Park Commences

Mr Kweku Ricketts-Hagan, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, on Thursday broke the ground for the construction of a standard International Logistics Park on a 40-acre land in the Tema Port Free Trade Zone enclave.

The construction, spearheaded by the Agility Group, a leading global logistics and logistical infrastructure provider, would improve logistics efficiency, reduce cost, facilitate raw material procurement and improve on business services processing.

It would also provide a comprehensive approach to inventory management, handling, packaging, storage, distribution, and other practices in the supply chain enterprise.

Mr Ricketts-Hagan said the Agility Group, which started as a local warehousing provider in Kuwait, had grown to become one of the world’s largest integrated logistics providers with over 20,000 employees and operations in 100 countries.Kweku Ricketts Hagan

He said the investment would strategically position and link Ghanaian businesses to the global market in the wake of increasing customer dynamics and supply chain complexities.

“As the enterprise of logistics parks evolve and expand, development through collaboration and networking becomes increasingly important to impel creativity and sustain long-term attractiveness and competitiveness,” he said.

The Minister said an International Logistics Park provided direct access to global transport networks and enabled direct transhipment of large volumes of goods without the need for long winding intermediary operations.

He said an efficiently functioning International Logistics Park was intrinsically reliant on a well-developed public-private collaboration.

“As a result of the partnership, the Ministry is working to develop a Logistics Services Market Policy that would address co-ordination failures and identify logistics constituencies for reform”.

He said the policy would aim to establish an efficient logistics service delivery with particular focus on small and medium enterprises through an integrated approach with convergence on infrastructure and public-private services.

He entreated the Agility Group and all other stakeholders in the sector to proactively engage the Ministry through the Logistics and Value Chain and the Trade Facilitation Directorates to deliver on the overriding intent of the Logistics Policy.

Mr Geoffrey White, Chief Executive Officer of Agility Group, Africa, said the first phase of the park would be completed and operational in the last quarter of 2015, and would include 100,000 square meters of bonded and non-bonded warehouses with ancillary services.

“By providing much needed import and export routes in and out of Africa, Agility Distribution Parks will help companies operate in Africa with the reliable, modern and secure infrastructure they need to grow their business,” he said.

Mr White said Agility Distribution Parks focused on providing undisturbed power, IT connectivity and security for tenants, creating an international platform from which companies could efficiently operate their businesses.

Ghana is an attractive location to launch the network of new Agility Distribution Parks because of her long term stable and transparent government, fast growing Gross Domestic Product and increasing prominence as a regional commercial hub in West Africa, he said.


]]> Sat, 17 Jan 2015 17:03:32 -0600 Ghana: 20-million-Euro water project for Central Region water project

President John Dramani Mahama on Tuesday cut the sod for the construction of a 20 million Euro water supply project at Abrem Agona in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA) Municipality of the Central Region.

Known as the Cape Coast Water Supply Project, it is expected to benefit about 400,000 people in the Municipality and the Cape Coast Metropolis and other districtswhen completed by December 2016.

It is being funded with a Dutch Government grant under the Ghana-Netherlands Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Programme, and will be constructed byEngineers and contractors from Netherlands.

Addressing a durbar of chiefs and people of beneficiary communities, President Mahama said the project was intended to bring the much expected relief to the peopleof Cape Coast and its environs from water crisis caused when water in the Brimsu dam fell below required level.

The project is primarily to interconnect the Sekyere Hemang and Brimsu water systems thereby allowing 4.4 million gallons of treated water daily from Sekyere Hemang to be supplied to the other clear water wells at Brimsu.

It would then be supplied to areas such as Cape Coast, Moree, Abura, Mpeasem, Brimsu Road, Kwaprow, Apewosika, Amamoma, Kwesi Pra, New Ebu, Abakrampa, YesuNkwa, Bronyibima Estate Annex, Sanka, New Abina/SSNIT, Yayakwano, Jukwa and surrounding areas.

The project will also include the construction of pipelines, pump stations and reservoirs, to strengthen the distribution network.

President Mahama stated that though the region was noted for its tourist attraction, such as mining, agriculture and most especially renowned educational intuitions, it would not function effectively without water, thus the need for project.

He said the Government was committed to its aim of increasing water supply all over the country due to the crucial role water played in development and urged beneficiary communities to use the water wisely and report faults promptly.

He commended the Paramount Chief of the Edina Traditional Area, Nana Kodwo Konduah IV, for his active participation in the National Sanitation Day Campaign and urged other traditional leaders to front the campaign in their various areas to boost participation.

Mr. Hans Docter, Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, said the Region was chosen because his government believed tourism could drive the development of the Region and therefore would help strengthen the infrastructure development to help business activities.

He said though the project was the last being funded by their government, it was not the end of its collaboration with Ghana as it was shifting its focus to other areas.

He assured that the Netherland constructors in charge of the project would finish it on time and called for collaboration from stakeholders.

Alhaji Collins Dawda, Minster for Water Resources, Works and Housing, called on traditional leaders and land owners to stop the disputes that arose when pipe lines were passed through their lands for their own benefits.

The Central Regional Minister, Mr. Aquinas Tawiah Quansah, gave the assurance that the project will not stall at a point and called on traditional leaders to unite to foster the development of their respective communities.

Nana Kyiriwiah Kodie, Paramount Chief of the Abrem Traditional area, appealed for the construction of the Effutu- Agona and other Road networks in the area, which were in very deplorable state and inhibiting transportation of farm produce resulting in huge post-harvest loses.

He also appealed for the expansion of the Abrem Agona Health Post to enhance healthcare delivery and end the numerous referrals to hospitals in other areas which sometimes resulted in deaths of loved ones.


Source: GNA/Businessghana

]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 10:43:59 -0600 Oil: BP to cut North Sea jobs amidst oil price plummet BP oil

LONDON - BP will cut hundreds of jobs in the North Sea to reduce costs in one of the world's most expensive exploration areas as oil prices fall.

The BBC quoted sources as saying staff cuts would be announced later on Thursday in the Scottish city ofAberdeen.

An industry source confirmed the report, saying cuts would amount to hundreds of jobs.

The headcount reduction comes as part of a previously announced $1 billion restructuring at BP aimed at simplifying the company's structure after it sold billions of

dollars of assets.

Oil prices have collapsed over the last six months, dropping almost 60 percent as a global glut has overwhelmed demand at a time of lacklustre world economic


North Sea Brent crude oil was trading around $47.50 a barrel on Thursday, down from more than $115 last June.

Fellow North Sea oil producer ConocoPhillips is also cutting 230 jobs in Britain, with its UK workforce expected to drop to just over 1,400 by March, a spokeswoman said.

Rival oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron announced job cuts in the North Sea last year.

On Thursday, Africa-focused oil producer Tullow Oil said it had written off $2.3 billion in relation to exploration work and some of its assets including in the Norwegian part of the North Sea.

BP employs 4,000 in the North Sea and another 11,000 across the UK.

Britain's North Sea oil and gas sector employs over 400,000 people and has brought more than $200 billion in tax revenues to the government, making it a vital part of Britain's economy.

News of job cuts in the sector have stirred concern among the country's politicians gearing up for parliamentary elections in May.

"The government is determined to do everything we can to work with industry to make sure we can maintain those jobs," British Energy Secretary Edward Davey, due to visit industry representatives in Aberdeen on Thursday,

told BBC radio.

Fergus Ewing, Scottish minister for business, energy and tourism, said the Scottish government had set up a task force to see that could be done.

"In order to prevent the premature decommissioning of fields there needs to be a clear signal sent to the operators, many of whom are headquartered in places like Houston and Calgary, that the UK government gets it," Ewing,

a member of the Scottish National Party, told BBC radio.

"The UK needs to send a signal that it values the industry as an enormous contributor to Scotland and the UK, not as a giant cash machine for the exchequer when the times are good."

]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 10:33:23 -0600 Kenya: Fuel prices dip The new price cap released by the Energy Regulatory Commission ( ERC) yesterday will see for the first time in four years prices for super petrol quoted below the Sh100 mark.

In Nairobi, super petrol will retail at Sh92.88 per litre and diesel and kerosene at Sh83.35 and Sh65.59 per litre, respectively. At the port city of Mombasa, consumers will pay Sh89.57 for super petrol, Sh80.06 for diesel and

Sh62.84 per litre of kerosene, the lowest in the country.


Gas pumps

However, Wajir, Loboi, Mandera, and Lokichogio, consumers will pay between Sh100.32 and Sh106.69 per litre. Reacting to the new prices, consumer lobby group Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) dismissed it as a

deceptive public relations exercise on the part of the ERC.

“We do not accept the latest prices as fair representation of the would-be, actual pricing,” said Stephen Mutoro, Secretary General, Cofek. He said even when weighed against the prevailing weaker shilling and fixed taxes, the

usual excuse of time lag between purchase and actual landing is unconvincing.

“There is no proper reason as to why consumers should not pay less than Sh85 per litre of super petrol in Nairobi,” he said adding that the so-called ERC formula is out of date with reality. “It has too many absolute and fixed

value inputs including non-scientific margins for wholesale and retail oil marketing companies (OMCs).”

“It is time the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum accepted that the ERC’s anti-free market economy practice of fuel price fixing is an orchestration of fraud and a clear injustice on hapless consumers,” he said.

ERC said the cuts are the lowest since the commission was instituted four years ago and it expects the prices to come down further in the coming months.

International crude oil prices have been on a downward trend since July last year falling by a cumulative 57 per cent to trade at near six-year lows $46.59 a barrel as at yesterday’s close of trading. However, motorists have not

been pleased with the slow drop of fuel prices, which does not seem to reflect the halving of international crude oil prices.

“We are trying to ensure that the fall in international pump prices trickles down to motorists and electricity consumers,” stated Eng Joseph Nganga, director general of the ERC during the press briefing.


This has led to a drop in the cumulative landing cost of super petrol by 39.5 per cent with diesel falling by 36.7 per cent and kerosene by 33 per cent. The ERC, however, says that the fall in the landing cost excludes other

costs including taxes and levies, distribution costs and supplier margins, which have remained constant.

“It is erroneous to use the fall in international crude oil prices to project a commensurate fall in pump prices because the products we have locally are refined petroleum prices and many factors are in play which lead to final

pump price,” said Nganga.

“The taxes, levies, gross margins for oil companies and distribution charges are fixed and do not change, so the price change is only a factor of the drop in 60 per cent of the product cost.”

In addition to this, the petroleum selling in the market has a 30-45 day time-lag hence it is not justifiable to expect drastic month-on-month price cuts.

ERC further states that the weakening shilling has also hurt the price of imported petroleum products. The Kenya shilling has weakened to a three-year low on the back of a slump in the country’s tourism sector and jitters in the

securities market over the re-introduction of the capital gains tax.

“When these factors are considered, the cumulative reduction in the calculated pump price of super petrol over the past six months thus becomes 20.3 per cent, with diesel at 22.2 per cent and kerosene standing at 22.9 per

cent,” explains Eng Nganga.

Source: spyghana

]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 10:24:58 -0600 Ghana: Revision of Oil Revenue Targets for 2015 budget in the offing Budget cut

Ghana is considering scenarios for its budget where oil falls to as low as $40 per barrel and may cut spending to prevent its budget deficit from ballooning, a Ministry of

Finance official said.

The price of crude will average $60 to $75 a barrel this year, Joseph Kwadwo Asenso, the head of energy, oil and gas at the ministry, said by phone today. The

government is considering spending cuts and raising revenue from other sources to maintain the budget deficit target of 6.5 percent of gross domestic product for 2015,

Asenso said.

The drop in crude threatens an economy already struggling with chronic power outages and inflation that has remained above 10 percent for more than two years. Last

year’s economy probably expanded less than previously forecast because of the energy shortage and currency, the statistical service said yesterday. GDP will rise 3.9

percent this year, near the 4.2 percent forecast for last year, the agency said.

Ghana currently produces approximately 100,000 barrels a day from its Jubilee oil field operated by Tullow Oil Plc. (TLW) Minister of Finance Seth Terkper presented a budget in November that targets 4.2 billion cedis ($1.3

billion) in oil revenue with an average price of $99.38 per barrel for this year.

Brent crude has dropped 56 percent in past year to $47.51 per barrel at 11:22 a.m. in London.



]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 09:59:53 -0600 World Oil prices to drop further Oil rig

The price of Brent fell by $2.24 to a near-six-year low of $45.19.

Oil traders are betting that crude prices will hit a 20-year low of $20 a barrel as prices fell again yesterday and as Gulf producers stood firm on their plan to turn the

screws on shale drillers in the United States.

According to Nymex, the New York exchange, the number of contracts or options to sell US crude at $20 in June has jumped from close to zero at the beginning of the

year to 13 million barrels of oil.

The data shows how the outlook for prices has deteriorated in a month. At the beginning of December, the most bearish move was the quadrupling of the number of

options to sell 880,000 barrels of US crude at $40 for December 2015 in the space of a fortnight. That indicated traders believed that prices would bottom out just

below $40 by the end of the year — yet prices have nearly reached that level already.

Yesterday, the price of Brent, the international benchmark for crude, fell by $2.24 to a near-six-year low of $45.19 and traded below West Texas Intermediate, the

American benchmark, for the first time since July 2013. Analysts said that the discount on Brent reflected Europe’s weakening economy and expectations that the US ban on crude exports, in place since the oil crisis of the

1970s, would be loosened.

Because of the export ban, the US shale oil boom created a domestic glut of crude that resulted in WTI being heavily discounted against Brent. The discount averaged $6.64 last year. This month the Obama administration

finally bowed to pressure from politicians and the industry to relax some restrictions on exports.

Prices slumped again yesterday after the United Arab Emirates, a close ally of Saudi Arabia, ruled out a production cut by Opec. Suhail bin Mohammed al-Mazrouei, the UAE’s energy minister, urged non-Opec producers to

cut output instead.

In November, Opec, led by the Saudis and its Gulf allies, blocked moves to cut production to prop up prices, which have slumped by 60 per cent from $115 in June last year. The Saudis want to drive prices lower to force rival

producers, such as American shale oil companies, which need $80 oil to break even, to scale back on their drilling.

Mr al-Mazrouei showed no sign of backing down over the price war, even though oil prices remain in headlong retreat.

“The strategy will not change,” he said. “We are telling the market and other producers that they need to be rational and, like Opec, they need to look at growth in the international market for oil and need to cater that additional

production to that growth”.

He also warned that it “will take some time” for prices to stabilise.

Iran attacked at the Saudis’ stance, warning that the countries behind the oil price collapse would regret it. President Rouhani said in a speech broadcast on state television: “Those that have planned to decrease the prices

against other countries, will regret this decision.

“If Iran suffers from the drop in oil prices, know that other oil-producing countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, will suffer more than Iran.”

• A Saudi billionaire who is one of the world’s biggest corporate investors has claimed that oil prices will never hit $100 a barrel again.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a senior member of the ruling house of Saud and a leading investor in companies including News Corp, the owner of News UK, which publishes The Times, said that the oil price above $100 had

been “artificial”.

“If supply stays where it is, and demand remains weak, you better believe it is gonna go down more,” Prince Alwaleed said in an interview with Maria Bartiromo, of Fox Business Network, in USA Today. “But if some supply is

taken off the market, and there’s some growth in demand, prices may go up.”

He added that the price war triggered by Saudi Arabia, which is refusing to cut production to ease the global glut, was “prudent, smart and shrewd”.

Source: ghanaweb

]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 09:44:09 -0600 Czech-Ghanaian bilateral relations could see infrastructure development for Ghana Czech Ambassador and Pres. Mahama

President John Dramani Mahama, on Tuesday, said the cordial diplomatic relations that was established between Ghana and Czech Republic in the past had been rekindled for the betterment of both partners.

He said through the regeneration of the relations, the Czech Republic had supported Ghana to revive the defunct Kumasi Shoe Factory, which was now supplying shoes to the security services in Ghana and beyond.

President Mahama said this when Mr Miloslav Mechelek, Czech Ambassador to Ghana, called on him at the Flagstaff House, Kanda, to announce the end of his duty tour to the West African country.

Also at the Presidency to announce his departure, after his five-year duty tour of Ghana, was Mr Larbi Korti, Algerian Ambassador to Ghana.

President Mahama said apart from the shoe factory, which was a joint venture, plans were also afoot to revive the Aboso Glass Factory when power and energy stabilized in the country.

He also mentioned the mutual collaboration in the establishment of the Urban Tramp System to complement road transport and reduce vehicular congestion in Ghana’s major cities.

“We are also pursuing collaboration in agriculture and industry with the Czech Republic since Czech Republic has the expertise in power generation,” he stated.

Mr Mechelek, for his part, commended President Mahama and Ghana for that matter for playing a leading role in resolving the political skirmishes in Guinea Bissau, Mali and Burkina Faso, saying, “It had been a demonstration

of good governance.”

He gave the assurance that his country would continue to partner Ghana as a worthy partner for the betterment of both countries.

On Algeria, President Mahama said the countries would leverage their collaboration in energy and human resource development, especially to subdue terrorist attacks and piracy on the continent.

He added:” No one country on its own can achieve the fight against terrorism and piracy and I believe Algeria has a role to play in their elimination.”

Mr Korti said both Ghana and Algeria had potentials to improve their relations to higher levels.

Source: Vibeghana/ GNA

]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 09:39:20 -0600 Maritime: Eastern Cape to become the leading hub in South Africa

With its 800km of coastline, South Africa's Eastern Cape is set to become South Africa's leading hub of maritime economic activity.

The province is home to the two major port cities of Port Elizabeth and East London, both established industrial manufacturing coastal centres, giving the Eastern Cape several strategic competitive advantages, says Mfundo Piti, the economic infrastructure development manager of the Coega Development Corporation (CDC).

The South African government announced in October 2014 that it would be implementing ocean economy projects, which it expected to contribute more than R20-billion to the country's gross domestic product by 2019.

These projects form part of the government's National Development Plan, its economic blueprint that aims to promote economic growth and job creation.

South Africa's oceans have the potential to contribute up to R177-billion to the GDP and create over one million jobs by 2033, two decades from now, the government said.

Unlocking the ocean economy - part of Operation Phakisa, which aims to fast track transformation - has four priority areas:

  • marine transport and manufacturing;
  • offshore oil and gas exploration:
  • aquaculture; as well as
  • marine protection services and ocean governance.

"A thriving maritime sector will shift the Eastern Cape into an era of prosperity," Piti says. "The momentum displayed so far by the local private-state nexus shows a strong capacity and desire to further tap the potential of a sector that has largely shaped the history of these two cities."

Ports have always been at the forefront of maritime economic organisation, catalysing economic growth through the trade of manufactured goods, commodities and raw materials. They have helped transform underdeveloped regions into important trade centres which, in turn, has created jobs.

"As both entry and exit points, the two ports have been critical in the past, present and future of the province and indeed the country," Piti says.

Nelson Mandela Bay's Port of Ngqura, a deep-water sea port is adjacent to the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) It is becoming the fastest growing terminal in the world, according to Drewry Maritime Research quoted by the CDC.

The South African government has partnered with South Korea to establish a national shipping company.

"World sea traffic passes by the Eastern Cape on the East-West pendulum trade routes, opening up major opportunities for ship-building and repairs in the region," Piti says.


Ship building and repairs

The world merchant fleet in 2013 comprised 106 833 vessels responsible for shipping goods and commodities between the continents, including visits to the three ports of the Eastern Cape.

During 2013, around 5 944 container ships, vessels and tankers were commissioned for construction by various countries. This represents an opportunity for the Eastern Cape to become a marine industrial centre for shipbuilding and repairs, Piti says.

While South Africa's ship-building industry holds international credibility through its shipyards in Cape Town and Richards Bay, the Eastern Cape's "world-class industrial manufacturing economy will make the province an excellent contender for future shipbuilding activities in the oceans economy", Piti maintains.

Nelson Mandela Bay and East London dominate South Africa's automotive industry which means the province is already home to the necessary expertise, skilled labour, logistic services, Piti says.

"But there's more that can be done," he says. "The expertise of the industrial base should not only be extended for the ship-building industries but need to be extended further" - augmented by aeronautical components manufacturing, for example.


Food security

"Marine food resources are depleting at devastating rates," Piti says. "Between 60 and 70% of the world's fish species are exhausted. And, with one out of every five individuals on this planet relying on ocean food as sources of protein, we are on the brink of food security crisis."

The CDC plans to establish a R2-billion aqua-farming facility at Coega. Marine animals and plants such as finfish, abalone and seaweed will be farmed on 300 hectares in the Coega IDZ, creating 5 000 jobs.


Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in Port Elizabeth will be playing a critical role in knowledge generation for maritime and marine industries, Piti says. The university formalised ties with the UN-endorsed World Maritime University (WMU) in Sweden in 2013.

"NMMU is already making critical research contributions that will enhance the competitiveness of the region in environmental sustainable ways. Several African countries attended NMMU's African Maritime Domain Conference [in November 2013] to develop responsible governance policies," Piti says.


Marine tourism

Cruise vacations offers Eastern Cape Tourism many opportunities to promote the province, Piti maintains. "We - or tour operators - should consider further partnering with cruise line operators and ground handlers to build on the current tourism offerings. It is an opportunity that has not yet been fully maximised to increase the much needed tourism spend in the Eastern Cape."

Demand for the ocean cruises increased by 77% over the past decade, Piti says. The majority of passengers are American, followed by travellers from Europe.

"Our province is one of the most diverse and spectacular tourism destinations in South Africa, including rich cultural diversity, Big Five game reserves, stunning landscapes and, of course, a beautiful coastline with blue-flag beaches.

"We are also home to one of the first-ever Big Seven game reserves - Addo Elephant National Park - which integrates the Big Five with marine life to include the Great White shark and Southern Right whale."

Port Elizabeth is South Africa's water sports capital, home to major water sports event - including the only international Ironman event on the African continent.


Source: Africa

]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 09:26:43 -0600 Morrocco: Al Noor Tower (Lord of the Rings) tower could be the tallest in Africa

(CNN) - It may bear more than a passing resemblance to Barad-dur, the dark fortress of Sauron depicted in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the Al Noor Tower could become the tallest building on the African continent if construction begins as planned later this year.

The project is slated for the picturesque city of Casablanca in Morocco and is being proposed by Dubai-based construction firm, Middle East Development LLC, in conjunction with French architects Valode & Pistre.

Aside from a stylishly swish exterior, features of the 114-story building include offices, apartments, a seven star luxury hotel, an art gallery and a luxury arcade of shops.

While a definitive date for breaking ground has still to be settled, its location finalized and full agreement of the Moroccan authorities sought, the tower's designer told CNN that the project is progressing as planned.

"Our goal is to start the soil testing in June 2015," said Amedee Santalo. "Then the engineering studies will take another few months (six to nine) and the construction should take two and a half to three years maximum to be completed."

If permission is granted, Santalo believes the building will be the first of many large skyscrapers that will spring up across Africa in the coming years. He adds that this a sign of the continent's growing strength and potential.

At 540 meters tall (designed specifically as a recognition of Africa's 54 countries) Al Noor would currently rank as the fifth tallest building in the world, in between Taipei 101 (501 meters) and One World Trade Center (541 meters), according to data from the Emporis building directory.

"Africa will have, in the next 15 years, thousands of towers," Santalo said. "The continent has an amazing potential with a lots of virgin places and a population of over a billion."

Santalo added that Morocco's stability, favorable landscape and the fact that it was at the gateway between Europe and Africa made it an attractive location for such a large development.

The current tallest building in Africa is the 223-meter tall Carlton Center in Johannesburg.

]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 08:19:55 -0600 World Bank: Sub-Saharan Africa economy grows by four and half percent in 2014 Economy Photo

NAIROBI, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa grew by 4.5 percent in 2014 compared with 4.2 percent in 2013, the World Bank (WB) said in its latest report received on Thursday.

The WB's Global Economic Prospects 2015 attributed the moderate growth to investment in public infrastructure, increased agriculture production, and buoyant services were key drivers of growth.

"Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) flows, an important source of financing of fixed capital formation in the region, declined in 2014, reflecting slower growth in emerging markets and soft commodity prices," WB said in the report.

Among frontier market countries, growth is expected to increase in Kenya, boosted by higher public investment and the recovery of tourism.

The report notes that high interest rates and inflation would weigh on consumer and investor sentiment in Ghana, slowing economic activity.

The regional GDP growth is projected to remain broadly unchanged at 4.6 percent in 2015, rising gradually to 5.1 percent in 2017, supported by sustained infrastructure investment, increased agricultural production, and expanding service sectors.

According to the report, commodity prices and capital inflows are expected to provide less support, with demand and economic activity in emerging markets remaining subdued.

"Growth will remain robust in most low-income countries, owing to infrastructure investment and agriculture expansion, although soft commodity prices will dampen activity in commodity exporters, " the report said.

It notes that South Africa is expected to experience slow but steady growth, helped in part by gradually increasing net exports, and reforms to alleviate bottlenecks in the energy sector.

The global lender said growth is expected to pick up moderately in Angola, as oil production rebounds.

In Nigeria, the devaluation of the naira will push up inflation and slow growth in 2015, but with continued expansion of non-oil sectors, particularly the services sector, growth is expected to pick up again in 2016 and beyond.

However, several frontier market countries including Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya and Senegal were able to tap international bond markets to finance infrastructure projects.

According to the WB, risks to the region's outlook are mostly on the downside, stemming from both domestic and external factors.

On the domestic front, the report said, the Ebola outbreak could spread more widely than assumed in the baseline, dent confidence and cause severe disruptions to cross-border trade and supply chains in the region.

In various countries, the bank said government budgets are at risk from demands for increased spending.

"Conflicts in South Sudan and Central Africa Republic, and security concerns in northern Nigeria could deteriorate further with harmful regional spillovers," WB said.

On the external front, the report said a sudden increase in volatility in international financial markets, and lower commodity prices are among the major risks to the region's outlook.

"A sharper or sustained decline in the price of oil would adversely affect the region, even though net oil importers would gain," WB noted.

The fiscal deficit for the region narrowed as several countries took measures in 2014 to control expenditures.

"At the same time, however, the fiscal position deteriorated in many countries. In some, it was due to increases in the wage bill (such as Kenya and Mozambique)," it said.

"In other countries (such as Mali, Niger, and Uganda), it was due to higher spending associated with the frontloading and scaling up of public investment."

According to the WB, falling prices for oil, metals, and agricultural commodities weighed on the region's exports.


Source: David Musyoka/Shanghai Daily

]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 06:09:25 -0600 GPHA vouches for single window clearance process GPHA

The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) -- operator of the country’s two seaports -- has thrown its weight behind government’s plan to introduce the single

window system of clearing goods at the ports: as it will ensure shorter dwelling time of cargo, do away with the current bureaucratic processes, and hugely reduce the

cost of doing business.

GPHA’s Marketing and Corporate Affairs Manager, Paul Ansah-Asare, told the B&FT that introducing the system is long overdue considering the recent surge in

trade, the pile-up of containerised and reefer goods at the various terminals, and continual bureaucracies in processing trade documents.

“The single window system will provide the platform for an integrated clearance process that will minimise the human factor as much as possible and, to a large

extent help to reduce the processing time for trade documents.

“This will obviously be an improvement over the current situation where part of the cargo clearance process is automated while the other part is carried out manually.

“Implementation is long overdue; especially considering the surge in cargo throughput to the country’s ports and the long issue of congestion and bureaucracies in

the clearance process. Such a system will minimise the challenges that militate against smooth and timely clearance of goods at the ports,” he told the B&FT.

The comment comes on the back of a hint from the Trade and Industry Minister, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, that government will soon create a fast clearing system as part of plans to provide a conducive business environment that

will alleviate the frustrations that the shipping public -- importers and exporters -- face in their dealings at the ports.

The single-window system is a trade facilitation idea that enables international -- cross-border -- traders to submit regulatory documents at a single location and/or single entity.

Such documents are typically Customs declarations, applications for import/export permits, and other supporting documents such as certificates of origin and trading invoices.

The main value proposition for having a single-window clearance system is an increase in efficiency through time and cost savings for traders in their dealings with government authorities when obtaining the relevant

clearance and permit(s) for the movement of their cargoes.

Mr. Ansah-Asare said the single window system, when rolled-out, will enable the port authorities to move cargo out of the ports quicker.

He said in order to reap the desired benefits from the system -- including shorter dwelling time for cargo, the platform should allow for one-stop payment from shippers as is done in other port countries like Cameroon, and also

integrate all the key players involved in the clearance process at the ports.

“There are various ways that the single window system is deployed in order to reap the benefits. In some cases it is an independent system operated by a special purpose company, like it is done in Cameroon.

“If we can make the best out of this system, then it should integrate all the key players involved in the goods clearance process at the ports. It should also be a system that will ensure one-stop payment, where the invoices are

collated onto the single window system for onward distribution to the various agencies.

“When that is done, people won’t find it necessary to enter the port except to assist with cargo inspection with the help of the agent, in some peculiar cases.”

Mr. Ansah-Asare said the impact of the single window system will be felt in the economy: “As the cargo stays at the port the shipping line is charging demurrage, the port is taking its rent, and the state of the cargo -- if

consumables -- will be questioned, and all these affect the pricing of imported goods on the market.

“For raw materials that have been imported for industrial use, the business will be held back as long as the items remain at the ports. This system will therefore help businesses to take stock of their imported items in a timely



Source:  B&FT Online | Ghana

]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 11:05:09 -0600 Tullow clarifies compressor challenges Tullow oil

Jubilee field operator, Tullow Ghana, says it is currently able to supply up to 120 million standard cubic feet of gas per day but power producers are unable to absorb


Bernice Natue, Communications and IR Manager of Tullow told the B&FT that “we supply what they ask for.”

Asked whether Tullow has challenges with its compressor, Ms Natue said: “No.”

The Business and Financial Times (B&FT) on Tuesday reported that the oil producer supplies only between 50-57 million standard cubic feet of gas for processing by

the Ghana Gas Company Limited and on-ward to power

generators for thermal power production due to challenges with their compressor.

However, Tullow, in a statement issued on Tuesday, said: “Tullow is currently able to supply up to 120 mmscf of gas per day and makes this volume of gas available

every day. The volume requested by our customers has

been well below this volume and so far has consistently been below their own requests.

While gas supplied from the Jubilee Field is an important component in reducing the current power supply deficit that has plunged the country into a power rationing regime over the past year.

The current power supply deficit has been necessitated by the poor inflow of water into the Bui and Akosombo Dams for hydropower generation, as well as funding challenges for crude oil purchases.


Source: B&FT Online | Ghana

]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 11:01:00 -0600