|Africa News Digest
At Davos, Mbeki Attacks Looting of Developing Countries
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 27, South African President Thabo Mbeki scored what he called the "obscenity" of the debt-looting of the developing countries, and demanded both debt cancellation and serious investment funds.
He said: "The debt cancellation must be effected, and it requires the passion and the rage, and the understanding that it really is quite obscene that the poor countries become net capital exporters to rich countries because of debt. So this thing has to be dealt with.
"So hopefully, at the next G-8 meeting ... this year in the United Kingdom, finally, will take some decision on this thingcritically important.
"The second matter that you have been raising, about a proposal that Jacques Chirac has been making about additional taxes [international transactions taxes to fund the poorest nationsed.], addresses the critical matter of, apart from the debt cancellation, generating the necessary capital flows into the continent. There are a number of proposals on the agenda. The British have been putting forward the idea of an international financing facility. The matter of extra taxes was raised jointly by President Chirac, President Lula of Brazil, and some others, and what we had agreed at the last G-8 summit in the United States, was that by the time we get to next G-8 meeting in July, we should have consolidated all of these ideas and come with one idea instead of these competing ideas, and indeed if it is possible to generate some of those resources through whatever forms of taxation, that is fine. But I am saying, critically, before we say where shall the money go, we should answer the question, where is the money?"
Libyan Oil Explorations Licenses Tilt Toward U.S. Companies
Libya announced the granting of 15 oil exploration licenses Jan. 29, the first in more than 40 years. Another 40 licenses will be awarded within a month. Five of the licenses went to Occidental Petroleum with its United Arab Emirates partner, Liwa, and another four to Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (Australia), in which Occidental shares rights. Two other U.S. companies, ChevronTexaco and Amerada Hess, each got one license.
BP and Royal Dutch/Shell received no licenses. Repsol of Spain, ENI of Italy, and OMV of Austria, three companies that have been operating in Libya during the 19 years of U.S. sanctions, received no new licenses.
Petrobras of Brazil, the Indian Oil Corporation, and Sonatrach of Algeria each received one license. A license also went to a 50:50 partnership between Medco Energy International of Indonesia and Verenex Energy of Canada.
The companies that have been licensed to explore will receive anywhere from 11% to 39% of any resulting production; the rest will go to Libya. Libya's choice from among the many bidders was partly determined by the percentage offered Libya, according to Oil & Gas Journal Feb. 1.
With respect to foreign companies' production from known deposits, the Libyan government is likely to permit the Oasis Groupa U.S. consortium of Continental Oil, Marathon Petroleum, Amerada, and Shellto return to concessions abandoned after President Reagan imposed sanctions on Libya in 1986. Libyan Oil Minister Fathi ben Shatwan said this approval was likely in "a month or less," according to the Financial Times Jan. 30.
Container Port To Be Built in Tangier
Moroccan Prime Minister Driss Jettou Jan. 26 chaired the signing of a convention for the construction of a container port in Tangier, to be called the Tangier-Mediterranean Port. The concession went to Maersk-Akwa Holding, in which the A. P. Møller-Maersk Group, the world's leading ship owner, holds a 90% share.
The port will include a deep-sea harbor. The convention commits the concessionaire and the government of Morocco to link the container terminal and port to energy distribution networks and the national highway and rail network.
Maersk-Akwa agreed to invest 150 million euros by 2010 in the design, construction, and maintenance of the port.
Prime Minister Jettou said that the Tangier-Med port is a "concrete expression of Morocco's resolve to open up on international trade, liberalize its economy, and get closer to Europe."
Morocco Privatizes 'One of the World's Most Profitable Telecom Companies'
CEO Jean Rene Fourtou of Vivendi Universal, a French company, handed over to Moroccan King Mohammed VI, a check for 1.1 billion euros on Jan. 4, in payment for a 16% stake in Maroc-Telecom, Morocco's land and mobile telephone and Internet operator. Vivendi already holds a 51% stake. At the ceremony, Moroccan Prime Minister Driss Jettou said that the purpose of the sale was to turn Maroc-Telecom into a prosperous and profitable company, Arabic News reported Jan. 5. But Arabic News added that in 2003, Maroc-Telecom "posted an operational result of 6.9 billion DH [622 million euros], ... which makes it one of the world's most profitable telecom companies."