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Emerging East Africa Energy

May 24, 2013 Comments off

Emerging East Africa Energy
Source: Energy Information Administration

Although oil and natural gas exploration has been going on for decades in various East African countries, there has been limited success until recently. In the past there were doubts about the amount of recoverable resources in the region, along with regional and civil conflicts that presented challenges and risks to foreign companies. Consequently, exploration activities in East Africa have evolved at a much slower pace relative to other African regions. However, the pace of exploration activity has recently picked up after foreign oil and gas companies made a series of sizable discoveries in several East African countries.

This new regional analysis covers emerging developments in the oil and gas sectors in five East African countries: Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and Madagascar. The larger area that EIA considers as East Africa (see Africa by region map) includes 21 countries. In this region, by far the largest oil and gas producers are Sudan and South Sudan, which are not covered in this report because they are mature oil producers.

Among the countries with emerging oil and gas developments, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and Madagascar have shown the most progress toward commercial development of newly discovered resources in recent years. Uganda and Madagascar will most likely be the next new oil producers on the continent. Mozambique will probably be the first country in East Africa to develop the capability to export liquefied natural gas (LNG), possibly followed by Tanzania.

Although progress toward commercial development of hydrocarbon resources in Kenya has been modest, the country plays a vital role in the region as an oil transit hub, particularly for oil products coming into the region. Kenya is planning to expand its role by embarking on a multi-million dollar investment to increase its midstream and downstream capacity.

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CRS — Madagascar’s Political Crisis

June 26, 2012 Comments off

Madagascar’s Political Crisis (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Madagascar, an Indian Ocean island country, ranks among the world’s poorest countries, is the world’s fourth largest island and is extremely biologically diverse, with thousands of unique species of flora and fauna. It has experienced political instability since early 2009, initiated by tensions between the country’s last elected president, Marc Ravalomanana, and an opposition movement led by Andry Rajoelina, then the mayor of the capital city, Antananarivo. Mass protests in early 2009 and eventual military support for the ouster of President Ravalomanana culminated in his forced resignation from office. Rajoelina then seized power and, with other leaders, formed an interim self-declared transitional government, the High Transitional Authority (HAT, after its French acronym). Ravalomanana now lives in exile in South Africa.

Periodic protests by Ravalomanana supporters after the takeover led to violent clashes with security forces. Negotiations between the parties led to the signing of an agreement in 2009 in Maputo, Mozambique to establish an inclusive, transitional government, but Rajoelina subsequently appointed a cabinet seen to be primarily composed of his own supporters. Southern African leaders and Madagascar’s opposition parties rejected the proposed government, and negotiations resumed. Two later agreements also failed to result in a unified transitional process.

The unconstitutional change of power and resulting political impasse have negatively affected economic growth and development efforts and strained Madagascar’s relations with international donors. Foreign governments, including the United States, reacted to Rajoelina’s seizure of power by sanctioning the government in various ways (e.g., through suspension of membership in some multilateral bodies, restrictions on aid, personal sanctions on some individuals, and removal of trade benefits). Aid restrictions have significantly decreased public spending. As a result of the coup d’état, U.S. aid is restricted to selected humanitarian and development programs delivered through non-governmental channels. Madagascar’s Millennium Challenge Account compact, worth an estimated $110 million, was terminated in May 2009. Madagascar is also subject to aid restrictions due to its poor performance in addressing the problem of trafficking in persons.

Until September 2011, when a Southern African Development Community (SADC)-mediated transitional roadmap was signed by most key political movements, international mediation and national efforts to agree upon a transition process had foundered. Notwithstanding continuing political disputes, implementation of the roadmap has gone relatively smoothly. In April, a political amnesty law was enacted, but it remains controversial, as it does not cover former president Ravalomanana due to his conviction for murder in absentia in August 2010, and he has not been permitted to return to Madagascar. An impasse over these issue has long stymied the transition process.

Madagascar faces a host of environmental pressures, however, and illegal logging and endangered wildlife exports have reportedly substantially increased under the HAT. Congress has expressed concern with threats to Madagascar’s unique ecosystem, as well as with the country’s ongoing political and development challenges. The House of Representatives passed legislation in 2009, H.Res. 839, condemning the 2009 coup and the illegal extraction of Madagascar’s natural resources.

Country Specific Information: Madagascar

May 29, 2011 Comments off

Country Specific Information: Madagascar
Source: U.S. Department of State

May 21, 2011

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Madagascar is a developing island nation off the east coast of Africa. The primary languages are French and Malagasy. French is less spoken outside of major cities. Facilities for tourism are available, but vary in quality and are in general limited. Travelers seeking high-end accommodations should make reservations in advance. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Madagascar for additional information.

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