The Buzz: This Week in Africa

At the close of this week Brent Crude is trading at $52.62 per barrel, WTI at $50.07 per barrel and natural gas at $3.22 per million BTU (beginning of day 31 March 2017). Here are AOP’s top five stories from the last seven days.

S. Africa Energy Minister Sacked in Cabinet Reshuffle

South Africa’s Minster of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson was removed from the top spot at the ministry Thursday night in a cabinet reshuffle that affected 20 other positions — as key leaders in the president’s cabinet were either moved or axed.

President Jacob Zuma’s announcement also tapped MP Mmamoloko Kubayi to replace Joemat-Pettersson. She had acted as the Minister of Energy since May 2014, and she was Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries from 2009-2014.

The president’s late-night move sent shockwaves through the South African financial system, with the rand down as much as 2.6 percent on Friday. Overall this week, the value of the currency has declined by over 7 percent.

Ghana’s power sector gets boost from Japan

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency plans to inject $40 million into Ghana’s power sector in an effort to increase the power supply in the Central Business District in Accra, the country’s capital, according to ESI Africa.

The JICA, a development division of the Japanese government, noted the need for improvement in the country’s transmission and distribution system. The current project is for a sub-station to reinforce current supply in the business district. Ghana has been in a power crisis for several years, suffering from continuous power outages because of a lack of power capacity.

S. Sudan oil industry burdened by kidnappings

South Sudan is actively working to revamp its oil and gas sector, increase production and bring in more oil and gas exploration companies. But foreign oil workers have been a target for rebel groups in recent weeks.

Insurgents have said they have captured two Indians and a Pakistani, and also said the kidnappings should serve as a “reminder to foreigners to stay away from oil-production zones” according to Bloomberg.

The government has promised increases to security at oil installations.

Shell oil spill in Nigeria to be cleaned next month

Clean-up in the Bodo community is expected to begin next month. The small community in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria was affected by two oil spills in 2008 from Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria.

Shell offered the community 55-million-pound settlement in 2015, but said cleanup has been slow because the community blocked Shell’s access, according to Vanguard. The cleanup is expected to take several years.

Nigeria’s new petroleum law behind schedule

Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry Bill has been delayed again, with the Senate Joint Committee announcing this week that it would present the bill for senate consideration and approval on April 25. The bill is three months behind its most recent schedule for approval, as it was supposed to be presented in January 2017. The bill was initially announced in 2008, but has faced several hurdles.

Critics have said the country’s inability to pass the new regulatory framework for the oil and gas sector is hindering further investment in the country.