As beyondbrics was landing on Monday evening, Venezuela’s capital gave it a warm welcome: a massive blackout. A big chunk of the country was without power, including much of Caracas.
Roving the streets of one of the world’s most dangerous cities in complete darkness was quite an experience – even for your correspondent’s seasoned driver, desperately calling family and friends to check if they were doing fine. Continue reading »
Back in September, to much fanfare, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan officially handed over share certificates and licenses to the handful of energy consortiums who successfully bid $2.5bn for ownership of ten distribution companies and five power generation plants.
But investors are starting to grumble about breakdowns in communication, procedural confusion and the government’s failure to properly think through how the new system will work. Continue reading »
Actis, a British private equity investor, wants to provide Cameroonians with power. On Thursday it agreed to pay $220mn to acquire 56 per cent of Cameroon’s national grid, Société Nationale d’Electricité (Sonel), and two power plants in the country, Kribi and Dibambe.
The grid’s current majority owner, US energy titan AES, is credited for giving Cameroon greater access to more reliable supply of power. Cameroon is now level with Spain in terms of ease of getting electricity according to World Bank data. Can Actis continue AES’s legacy? Continue reading »
As the French author Victor Hugo put it: “All the forces in the world are not as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”
Hugo died long before electricity became commonplace in Europe’s major cities, but his aphorism could easily be applied to electricity itself – and even to Turkey’s Karadeniz Holding, which has come up with a novel and successful means of taking power to parts of the world where existing supply has problems meeting growing demand. Continue reading »
By Bright Simons of IMANI Ghana
On the fourth day of Barack Obama’s 6-day Africa tour, the president has unveiled a multibillion dollar initiative to help Africa tackle its crippling power deficit. White House aides made it known that this is the ‘signature’ Obama initiative for Africa that many have been expecting since he came to office, the absence of which has given rise to concern in certain circles.
As one of the people who have in the past complained about the seeming lack of new ideas for a “strategic engagement with Africa” from the White House, I welcome renewed energy towards that direction. The issue selected – Africa’s electricity challenges – is clearly a vital one. Continue reading »
A bit more evidence of China’s economic growth recovery in the shape of official electricity statistics. The State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) said on Thursday that power consumption is expected to grow more than 9 per cent this year, according to Reuters.
Given that Li Keqiang, the prime minister-designate, once indicated that he put more faith in the electricity numbers than in the GDP data, these figures are worth considering. Continue reading »
Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi arrived in office pledging to deal with the country’s chronic power problems but – like his long-ruling predecessor Hosni Mubarak – he has instead been confounded by a continuing crisis, writes Dina Salah Eldin.
The nation’s creaking electricity network has groaned ever louder as fuel supply shortages have triggered repeated outages, while political turmoil has kept foreign investors at bay and left Egyptian officials chary about signing off deals and opening themselves to possible corruption allegations. Continue reading »
Fancy a bit of east African power? Umeme, the Ugandan power company, was successfully floated on Friday by Actis, a private equity group. So far, it’s been a hit, with the IPO oversubscribed and shares jumping 9 per cent on Monday.
But despite the investor thumbs-up, the stock is already rated by one analyst as a sell. Continue reading »
Fixing Nigeria’s power woes through privatisation was never going to easy. Staying employed while trying to do so seems equally challenging.
First to fall was Barth Nnaji (right), the power minister who had been credited with moving forward the privatisation process but was pressured to resign in August due a conflict of interest. On Tuesday he was followed out the door by Bolanle Onogorowa (left), head of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the agency that oversees the sell-off of government assets. Continue reading »
Somebody has to get squeezed. In South Africa, the price of electricity is set to rise, as power generation costs go up. The question is by how much.
Eskom, the state-owned power company, says it needs put prices up by 16 per cent to avoid shortages. But the company chief executive, Brian Dames, has said they could climb even higher unless costs can be kept under control. And the spotlight is firmly on coal – and the mining companies that supply Eskom. Continue reading »
Emerging markets usually warrant a risk premium because they tend to be pretty risky – as CEZ, the Czech utility, is finding out with its troubled Albanian investment.
CEZ is moving to claim a World Bank guarantee on its investment in CEZ Shperndarje, a power distribution company in which it holds a 76 per cent stake (with the Albanian government holding the rest) – and a complete writedown of its total €160m investment is looking increasingly likely. Continue reading »
After a decade of virtually frozen tariffs that has pushed them to the brink of collapse, and a major power cut earlier this month, electricity and gas companies in Argentina have finally heard the magic words they have been longing for the government to say: higher tariffs.
Unfortunately for them, there’s a catch. They won’t get the money. A special government-administered fund will. Continue reading »
This was downtown Buenos Aires in the rush hour on Wednesday night. Ouch.
A gigantic power cut crippled the centre of the capital, causing three hours of chaos and misery for 3m people, some of whom were trapped in the metro or ended up having to walk miles home through gridlocked streets choked by failed traffic lights. It could get worse on Thursday. Continue reading »
The State Grid Corporation of China has made a public protest over recent moves to cancel visas and work permits for 28 of its technical staff in the Philippines, where it owns a big chunk of the power transmission operating company.
It’s not entirely clear what’s behind Manila’s actions. But energy officials are keen to ensure that control over power grid operations is in the hands of Philippine rather than Chinese nationals. Continue reading »
Croatia’s expected entry to the European Union in July 2013 will be a big step for the country, which emerged from a bloody war of independence two decades ago. But membership of the EU comes at a cost – including, it seems, rising energy prices. Continue reading »