|Africa News Digest
Algeria To Generate Electricity for Export to Italy, Spain
An Algerian-Italian-Spanish union will be established to launch a common seabed power grid for the export of Algerian electricity, the Algerian Minister of Energy, Shekib Khalil, told journalists in Algiers, according to the Kuwait News Agency. The occasion was a Nov. 13 seminar on integrated power ventures. Algeria already has an agreement with Italy for a 2,000-megawatt (MW) power cable between the two countries, and with Spain for a 1,000-MW cable. Feasibility studies have been finalized. Algeria's oil and gas will be used to generate the electricity.
Algeria is also interested in launching joint energy projects with Arab Maghreb states, according to Nour Eddine Bou Terfah, general director of Sonatrach, the Algerian power and gas company.
India's Cash for West Africa's Oil
A senior Indian Oil Ministry official, Talmiz Ahmad, said recently that India would invest in everything from railways to ports, and even in developing computer networks in West Africa, in exchange for oil exploration rights there, according to a well-informed source in India Nov. 29. India imports 70% of its oil and sees West Africa as a key long-term supplier.
A recent $6-billion infrastructure deal agreed in Nigeria by the Indian state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Mittal Energy, a private-sector company, is seen as one of the first examples of India's new approach in West Africa.
In addition to Nigeria, other Western African countries under India's consideration include Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, and Senegal. "The ONGC deal is just the beginning of India's entry into West African oil exploration," Ahamad reportedly said. He also pointed out that ONGC has already carried out similar infrastructure deals in Sudan, where it built a $259-million pipeline in exchange for securing exploration rights in the Greater Nile oil region.
Doctors Without Borders: Health Conditions in DR Congo Catastrophic
In a new report, "Access to Healthcare; Mortality and Violence in DRC," released Nov. 15, Doctors Without Borders reports that the current situation in DR Congo is "even darker than what was observed four years ago." It states that the "catastrophic" health-care situation is not better in areas not directly affected by warfare. Most Congolese live on less than 30 cents a day, but "Cost is not the only hurdle," the report says, because "the health sector as a whole has been left to fend for itself and cannot hope to cover the healthcare needs of the Congolese people."
New Liberian President on Private Visit to USA
Newly elected Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf flew to the U.S. on Dec. 8 for a week of meetings with U.S., IMF, and UN officials, at the invitation of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, according to Deutsche Presse Agentur Dec. 8. It is being called a private visit. She is herself a former World Bank economist and former Africa Bureau director of the UN Development Program. She will return Dec. 16.
Johnson-Sirleaf will ask for U.S. investment in Liberia and a restructuring of Liberia's security forces (now being partly staffed by U.S. contractors). DPA reports she will come under strong pressure to obtain custody from Nigeria of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, to hand him over to the UN war crimes tribunal in Sierra Leone.
After her inauguration, Johnson-Sirleaf is expected to return to the U.S. on an official visit.
Liberia's capital, Monrovia, still does not have electricity or piped water, two years after the end of 14 years of civil war.