Emerging Markets Roundup: Africa

ETHIOPIA POWERS UP GENERATION PLANS

 

By Antonio Guerrero

 

Ethiopia in April launched a $4.7 billion project to build Africa’s largest hydropower plant.

 

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Drawing on the power of the Nile

Ethiopia in April launched a $4.7 billion project to build the Grand Millennium Dam, which will become Africa’s largest hydropower plant when it opens in four years. Situated on the Nile River, some 40 kilometers from the border with Sudan, the plant is slated to generate 5,250 megawatts of power. Ethiopian authorities estimate the country’s rivers could be harnessed to generate as much as 45,000 MW. While Ethiopia plans to self-finance the project, in part through the sale of 5% bonds, there is speculation that Addis Ababa may ultimately seek financial assistance from Sudan and Egypt, both of which could also potentially benefit from expanded energy production.

 

Members of South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) ruling party are calling for the government to nationalize the country’s mining sector. The proposal would have the government take over at least 60% of mining assets, with proponents contending the move would help the government tackle poverty and reduce South Africa’s current 24% unemployment rate. Analysts argue, however, that the proposal is unlikely to be approved since it could jeopardize foreign investment flows and further weaken the country’s economy. As the debate rages on, mining companies are preparing to comply with legislation that sets a 2014 deadline by which at least 26% of their assets must be owned by black investors.

 

Zambia is poised to generate more than $7 billion in copper export revenues this year, according to finance minister Situmbeko Musokotwane. The country, already ranked as Africa’s largest copper producer, has reported increased copper output as the mineral’s price continues to rise on global markets. After producing some 903,000 tons of copper in 2010, the Zambian government predicts output will rise steadily to more than 1.1 million tons by 2015. An estimated 70% of the country’s hard currency earnings are generated through copper exports.

 

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