By Antonio Guerrero
Under threat: Wildlife in Uganda’s Kabwoya reserve
African Union (AU) heads of state attending a February summit will review plans to create a $4 billion Libya-based African investment bank. South Africa, Nigeria, Libya, Algeria and Egypt have promised to contribute $300 million each to establish the continental bank, with remaining AU members providing an additional $1.5 billion. Another $1 billion is expected to come from the private sector and regional blocs. Unlike the African Development Bank, whose shareholders include non-African governments, the proposed investment bank will be owned exclusively by AU members.
The Tunisian government unveiled an ambitious privatization program that includes a proposed sell-off of stakes in 12 state-owned companies this year. The move follows the privatization of only one company in 2009 and signals the acceleration of the government’s economic liberalization plan to spark growth. Tunisian GDP expanded by 3% in 2009, compared with a stronger 4.8% in 2008. Since taking office in 1987, the administration of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has privatized 219 companies. This year’s privatization drive includes floating a 25% stake in a shipping line on the local stock exchange, as well as a 20% share of a fuel distributor through a public offering. Authorities will also seek a strategic partner for the El Fouladh steelmaker. They will offer a 68% stake in a sugar importer, along with shares in financial, real estate and agribusiness ventures.
Uganda faces new challenges in its goal to become Africa’s next major oil producer. The nation’s Wildlife Authority is calling for Tullow Oil, one of two UK-based wildcat explorers that found 700 million barrels of oil reserves in Uganda, to remove its workers from exploration camps in the Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve. Authorities say workers have poached animals within the reserve, validating activists’ calls for the government to cease drilling in protected areas. Tullow, which plans a local stock listing, has to complete exploration within the next two years.