Gas producers in the Nigeria have said they are being owed N1.3 trillion by power generation companies (GENCOs).
The first Vice President, Nigerian Gas Association, Mr Victor Okoronkwo, said the money was for the supply of the fuel to power stations.
Okoronkwo, who is the Managing Director of Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production, spoke on Tuesday during a panel session at the Nigerian Oil and Gas Conference in Abuja.
He said the country had been struggling with how to use its abundant natural gas resources to move the economy forward.
He said, “Even though pricing still remains a big issue, I think that when you talk about the price for gas, you should look at the full fiscal environment for natural gas, both as it is currently being used and as being proposed in the Petroleum Industry Bill, which has been in the works for too long.
“As we all know, electricity penetration in Nigeria is quite low, and we have natural gas which can give us the fuel we need to increase that electricity penetration, and it is electricity usage that will enable the domestic gas development in Nigeria because of the volume that the power sector consumes.”
Also speaking, the Commercial Manager, Gas Aggregation Company of Nigeria, Mr Chijioke Uzoho, said gas supply to the power sector used to account for 80 per cent of the total domestic supply but this had dropped to 60 per cent.
He said, “Yes, gas price is an issue; however, we also need to look at the shorter and long term. Today, we believe that the most important thing in the market is off-take credibility. So, the demand market needs to be real; the off-takers need to be willing to pay and be able to pay sustainably.
“The demand is there in the domestic market but the question is: Can the local market pay real time for the gas they have taken?”
“The biggest challenge in the power sector is being able to pay real time for the time you have consumed to be able to allow suppliers to plan. So, the first issue we need to tackle today is to make sure that our demand is credible, real and that the off-takers can pay for the gas they are consuming.”
Mozambique has a seafaring heritage. Scientists have found evidence of people traveling by water from the Middle East to southeastern Africa more than a thousand years ago.
Today, tourists know its beaches to be among the most beautiful in the world. But the government has yet to harness this history – and potential – despite a serious effort several years ago to start a domestic shipbuilding industry.
Mozambique made a major move to create a world-class, ship-repair facility several years ago, but it stumbled into a debt-financing scandal instead. In the meantime, the need for ships and ship repairs has grown. Major energy companies are preparing to develop an estimated $30 billion gas field off its coast, an enterprise that requires protection along the coastline.
With more than 1,400 miles of coastline, international vessels navigating the strait between Mozambique and Madagascar frequently need a safe harbor when something goes wrong. But repair yards are few and far between. Currently, commercial vessels operating along the southeast coast of Africa must either take their chances for a slot at Kenya’s busy port of Mombasa or sail all the way to the South African port of Durban for repairs.
To fix this problem – and to bring business to Mozambique – the government created an entity called Mozambique Asset Management (MAM) in 2013. MAM contracted with the international shipbuilding company Privinvest to buy the wherewithal to develop ship repair facilities in Maputo and Pemba. In 2017, Privinvest reported that the government was satisfied with its progress on deliveries. Unfortunately, MAM has fallen behind on repaying the $535 million loan Mozambique’s government guaranteed on its behalf.
MAM has been moving forward with at least some of its activities in the port of Pemba, including establishing the Pemba Naval School, expanding the land for operations at the Pemba Naval Base and preparing at least some instructors for the task at hand. But much more needs to be done. Unfortunately, the legal wrangling around the unpaid debt has slowed the pace of progress.
Indeed, the political fallout from the debt matter – which includes a U.S. indictment filed late last year against a handful of individuals – has overshadowed the project itself. Necessary though a proper ship-repair facility along this stretch of coast might be, the capital needed to move forward has not been found. Indeed, the toughest critic of the loans Mozambique took out in part to finance the MAM’s ship-repair operations has been the International Monetary Fund, an important donor to the impoverished nation.
The situation is not novel in Mozambique. Experts have complained for years that the government has too often undertaken expensive projects, such as road building and other landlocked infrastructure efforts, without the appropriate follow through including the involvement and commitment of locals. That has frequently meant a focus on projects other than port development and too little emphasis on training. This is true despite the two millennia that Mozambicans and their antecedents have been heavily reliant on the seas for commerce and transportation.
No matter what the donor or lender priorities of the moment might be, the need for domestic ship-repair capacity will not go away. Mozambique suffers from a substantial trade deficit. It shouldn’t have to outsource the repair of vessels passing through its waters. National interests and market forces will eventually come together under the umbrella of common sense, and projects with ambitious yet sensible goals like MAM’s will be revived before long.
Since its 15-year civil war ended in 1992, Mozambique has struggled to emerge from its colonial habits. Relying on other nations to make and repair its ships-at-sea should be one habit it discards soon.
By Eugen Iladi
Eugen Iladi is a freelance reporter based in Virginia who covers politics, conflict, business and development in emerging markets.
Government agencies are conflicted over legalising dagga in Namibia, with the national medicine regulator open to the plant's use if the law is changed.
The police are at the forefront of those opposed to legalisation; the health ministry is somewhere in-between; while the Namibia Medicines Regulatory Council (NMRC) feels there must first be an investigation to determine potential demand, and the highs and lows of how it would work.
Official discussions are already underway. Documents reviewed by The Namibian show that NMRC officials and health minister Kalumbi Shangula discussed legalising dagga at a meeting on 11 March 2019.
At that gathering, the regulator indicated a notable increase in applications to use cannabis.
Although the cultivation of cannabis for medical, industrial or recreational use is unlawful in Namibia, the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act, 2003 provides for people to apply for a licence to cultivate cannabis.
The council, however, expressed concern over the policing of cannabis cultivation facilities.
"Council will not take this issue in isolation as there is other legislation that needs to be amended if cannabis is to be legalised. Legally, if there is no collective decision, individuals can challenge that the act is not wholly implemented," the council said.
At the meeting, the NMRC told Shangula that Namibia is not ready to legalise the cultivation and usage of cannabis in the country.
According to documents seen by The Namibian, Shangula particularly wanted to know whether the extent of the demand is known.
"The chairperson of the NMRC indicated that anecdotally, there is a growing demand. [He said] clinical practice sees a significant proportion of patients who use cannabis off label for various conditions, such as anxiety, pain and some complex neurological conditions," read the minutes.
Shangula is also said to have rejected the council's request to stop all applications for cultivation licences. According to the minutes, he particularly wanted to know why the council was insisting on an embargo.
Some Namibians have looked abroad for legal access to cannabis.
The state-owned New Era newspaper last month reported that the Lesotho government has granted Namibian businessman Knowledge Katti and his Mosotho partner Thabo Ntai a 10-year licence to cultivate, manufacture and supply cannabis, in line with the kingdom's laws.
The licence, granted in 2018, also allows the company - Lecana (Pty) Ltd - to import and export the drug.
Globally, medicinal marijuana is big business.
BBC reported last year that Lesotho is aiming to make money from the booming medicinal marijuana industry - although illicit trade in the drug for recreational use is rife in the mountainous country.
Eskom says it has received payment from Zimbabwe.
The power utility confirmed that payment reflected on Tuesday.
“Eskom confirms that the payment made by Zimbabwe is reflecting in its account today,” Eskom said in a media statement.
Eskom did not disclose how much was paid but said it would work with Zimbabwe's state-owned power utility for solutions.
However, Zimbabwe's state-owned power utility owes Eskom more than US$40-million (R564-million) for electricity borrowed over the years.
“Discussions will continue with the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) to find a mutually beneficial solution to the outstanding debt. Eskom is a commercial operation and will be guided by the contracts we have in place with ZESA,” Eskom added.
On Friday, Eskom said it had not the received payment from Zimbabwe.
However, Zimbabwe’s energy minister Fortune Chasi posted proof of the R139-million payment on social media.
The amount is an equivalent of $10-million.
Zimbabwe is experiencing lengthy power cuts amid an economic crisis.