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Southern Africa

Retiring Titi aims a jab at SA Athletics’ way

Titi has announced his decision to quit athletics after struggling to overcome a medical problem.

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South Africa's Ncincilili Titi competes in the heats of the men's 200m athletics event at Hampden Park during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow - AFP

Promising South Africa sprinter Ncincilili Titi has announced his decision to quit athletics after struggling to overcome a medical problem.

US-based Titi wrote on his Twitter page “Time I hang up my spikes, focus on other things, I guess till further notice…”

“Would be lovely if ASA or SASCOC would step in, but sadly that’s not my reality. I do have other passions so that’s where my energy is gonna be going now”.

The 25-year-old who is the fifth-fastest South African of all time also stated that he was unable to invest “any more resources” into trying to overcome his injury.

Titi was a member of the SA 4x100m team that set the 38.35sec national record at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

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Business News

Angola’s oil and gas industry bouncing back after reforms

In order to turn the sector around dozens of new blocs are set to be sold off in the coming months.

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A view of the flare on the Kaombo Norte, a Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel(FPSO), about 250km off the coast of Angola in the Atlantic Ocean.

Angola is bouncing back after its fuel production slumped last year to a decade low as President Joao Lourenco steers reforms vital to the country’s economy and wins approval from oil majors.

“It is a new era. I see a growing interest from investors,” says Guido Brusco, vice-president for sub-Saharan Africa of Italian giant ENI.

“We should come back to 2012/2013 to see the same level of interest” as that now being shown by investors, Brusco said on the sidelines of a conference earlier this month in Luanda.

France’s Total, the premier operator in Africa’s second-largest oil producer after Nigeria with output of 650,000 barrels per day, confirms as much.

“There is a business environment which could lead us soon to sign several agreements,” says a Total spokesperson. “A new page of Angola’s petrol industry is clearly opening.”

The arrival of Lourenco, who succeeded Jose Eduardo dos Santos who ruled for 36 years, has marked a radical step for the OPEC-member country.

When Lourenco took office oil prices were struggling to come back from a slump going back to 2014 but he has launched a string of initiatives in order to tackle falling production.

With oil Angola’s primary resource, that was an overriding priority given that production of “black gold” last year slid just below 1.5 million bpd, its lowest level for 10 years – the consequence of low prices and a freezing of new projects.

“We were in an environment of low prices and firms found it difficult to get responses from (state producer) Sonangol to advance dossiers,” an oil sector source who requested anonymity told AFP.

Before embarking on reforms Lourenco first spent several months consulting the industry to pinpoint means of relaunching activity.

A series of policies, including tax perks, were introduced, enshrined in several presidential decrees which, Brusco says, have managed to “improve the investment climate.”

Brusco says he served on a committee to deliver proposals to that effect “and the government endorsed those proposals.” 

Tax perks

Those decrees have allowed the development of resources which had previously been unviable and to relaunch exploration programmes.

The results of the favourable legal framework soon emerged.

Within 12 months, Brusco says, ENI had discovered five fields.

“Total and other actors are reevaluating a number of dossiers they had put on hold as unviable but which today could function,” given the tax advantages, says the oil sector source.

Those include so-called satellite fields near to blocs which have already been exploited.

Britain’s BP and US rival ExxonMobil are also angling for new investments in Angola, according to Adam Pollard, senior upstream analyst for sub-Saharan Africa with Wood Mackenzie.

“We have already seen new projects sanctioned by Total (Zinia 2, CLOV Phase 2 and Dalia Phase 3) and Eni, BP and ExxonMobil are also planning new investments,” said Pollard.

Lourenco has also wielded a new broom at Sonangol, bringing changes to an influential firm which is also the biggest contributor to state coffers.

First, the president laid off COE Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the former head of state amid suspicions of financial wrongdoing — which Africa’s richest woman roundly denies.

Lourenco has also removed from Sonangol one of its key tasks — granting exploration and drilling permits, with that task now performed by new separate entity, the National Oil and Gas Agency (ANPG). 

Lourenco explains such reforms are designed to “restructure” the sector in Angola and “create the conditions for making private investment attractive.”

And that is not all.

Lourenco vowed to top industry players earlier this month that Angola is going “to intensify efforts to renew reserves and temper the large decline of oil production.”

In order to turn the sector around dozens of new blocs are set to be sold off in the coming months.

Luanda recognises an urgent need to advance. Without new projects coming on stream production could slide below a million bpd by 2023, the Ministry of Oil warns.

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Lifestyle News & Gists

Over 500 vultures die in Botswana after eating elephant carcasses

Most of the birds, 468 of them, were white-backed vultures, which are classified as critically endangered species.

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Photo - Shutterstock

More than 500 endangered vultures died of poisoning after eating the carcasses of three elephants killed by poachers in Botswana, the government said in a statement.

A total of 537 vultures, along with two tawny eagles, were found dead at the site in the north of the African country.

The Botswanan wildlife and national parks department did not say when the dead vultures had been found or why the three elephants were laced with poison after being killed.

But poachers are known to poison carcasses to target vultures as the birds circle in the sky and help rangers to track poaching activity.

Most of the birds, 468 of them, were white-backed vultures, which are classified as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list of threatened species.

Also among the dead were 17 white-headed vultures and 28 hooded vultures — also critically endangered.

“The poisoning was believed to have been caused by lacing of three poached elephant carcasses with a poisonous chemical,” the wildlife department said.

Teams decontaminated the area and samples were taken for laboratory analysis.

Conservationists last week warned of surging elephant poaching in parts of Botswana and estimated nearly 400 were killed for their ivory tusks in 2017 and 2018.

The country recently sparked controversy by lifting its ban on hunting, saying it would help control a booming elephant population that was damaging farmers’ livelihoods.

In 2016, two lions and over 100 vultures in South Africa’s Kruger National Park died after eating a poisoned elephant carcass.

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Politics

Ramaphosa to deliver first state-of-nation address after election

Ramaphosa will speak to parliament in Cape Town at 7:00pm (17:00 GMT)

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Ramaphosa to deliver first state-of-nation address after election

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa will Thursday deliver his first state-of-the-nation address since the ruling ANC party won elections in May, with the crisis-hit state energy company high on the agenda.

Ramaphosa, who will speak to parliament in Cape Town at 7:00pm (17:00 GMT), came to power last year and has vowed to revive the economy after the scandal-tainted presidency of Jacob Zuma.

But unemployment remains near record-highs and the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 3.2 per cent in the first three months of 2019.

Power monopoly Eskom, which generates 90 per cent of the nation’s energy, has debts of $30 billion (26.5 billion euros).

Its potential collapse is seen as the biggest threat to spurring growth in Africa’s most developed economy.

Eskom imposed a period of rotational power rationing in February, plunging offices, factories and homes into darkness for long hours and sparking public anger at the ANC government.

Peter Attard Montalto, an analyst at London-based Capital Markets Research, said no overall Eskom rescue plan was expected in the speech, though new measures to ease the crisis were likely to be announced.

“Expectations are raised very high around Eskom… (but) government is unlikely to have taken detailed decisions yet on the way forward,” Montalto said in a briefing paper.

The speech “is really not the time to be undertaking complex communications with creditors on restructuring.”

South Africa’s unemployment hovers at over 27 per cent — soaring to over 50 per cent among young people.

The ANC won the May 8 election with 57.5 per cent of the vote, its smallest majority since it led the fight against apartheid rule that was replaced by multi-racial democracy in 1994.

Mmusi Maimane, leader of the Democratic Alliance opposition party, called for Ramaphosa to take on corruption and “place the nation’s interests ahead of the ANC’s interest.”

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