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Middle East & African Monitor – 04 January 2018

  • AFRICOM Warns Of Militant Threat To Libya’s Oil Facilities.
  • Turkey Looks To Expand Its Presence In Africa.
  • Zambia’s Foreign Minister Resigns.
  • Oman Will Be First GCC State To Issue Bonds In 2018.
  • Saudi Arabia’s Non-Oil Sector Continues To Expand.
  • Egypt’s FX Reserves Rise.
  • Tunisia’s Debt Burden Grows.
  • Salini Impregilo Wins UAE Contract.
  • Anycolour To Build Manufacturing Plant In Kenya.
  • Nigeria Secures US$550 Mio Satellite Deal With China.

REGIONAL COMMENTARY

AFRICOM Warns Of Militant Threat To Libya’s Oil Facilities.
An official attached to the US Military’s command centre in Africa warned this week that ‘daesh’ militants could be preparing to launch attacks against Libya’s oil crescent. According to the Libyan Express newspaper an AFRICOM spokesperson, Robyn Mack, stated; “At the moment, we believe that the organization (ISIS-Libya) is likely to give priority to the restructuring of security forces and infrastructure, and to launch strikes, which may include targets in the Libyan oil crescent,” adding that, “The United States stands by its Libyan counterparts and supports their efforts to combat terrorist threats and defeat ISIS there. We are committed to continuing to exert pressure on the terrorist network and prevent it from establishing a safe haven.” Mack’s comments follow an attack made by an unknown group on the crude pipeline pumping oil to the Al Sidra port in late December 2017, the damage caused resulted in a temporary 100,000bpd drop in Libya’s output.

Turkey Looks To Expand Its Presence In Africa.
Sudan’s Foreign Minister, Ibrahim Ghandour, reportedly stated last week that his government had signed an agreement granting Turkey temporary control of a section of Sudan’s  Suakin island via a 99-year lease, and where the old town will be restored and a new port established to not only serve as a transit point for pilgrims to Mecca, but that may also provide docking and other support facilities for both civilian and naval vessels. The deal is “to build a dock to maintain civilian and military vessels,” Ghandour was quoted as saying by Reuters, adding that this; “could result in any kind of military cooperation,” between the two sides. The naval aspect to the port has however since been denied by Turkey’s President Erdogan who apparently later claimed that his country was only seeking to pursue “tourism-related” projects there. Suakin Island was once the military headquarters for forces of the Ottaman Sultan, Selim I, in the 16th century but has been virtually abandoned since 1939. Apart from the port, Turkish firms will also reportedly help to build a new airport in Khartoum as well as investing in various cotton and grain production facilities.

Zambia’s Foreign Minister Resigns.
Zambia’s Foreign Minister, Henry Kalaba, stepped down from his post yesterday due to what he claims is his unhappiness with the current mood of “greed and indifference” within the current administration, although he will apparently, remain on as an MP for the ruling Patriotic Front party. “We cannot proceed to manage national affairs with cold indifference when the levels of corruption are swelling and being perpetrated by those who are expected to be the solution. We need to go back to the original agenda of our party, the PF, where the poor and not the corporates must be at the centre of all our decisions," Kalaba reportedly stated via a Facebook post according to the BBC and Africa Times newspaper. He is the third minister to depart President Lungu’s administration in recent months following the sacking of both the Information Minister and the Planning Minister last November. Lungu is currently seeking the legal right to stand for a third term as President despite a constitutional limit of just two terms. The country’s next elections are due to be held in 2021.

Oman Will Be First GCC State To Issue Bonds In 2018.
Oman’s Finance Ministry announced yesterday that an investor roadshow will be launched from tomorrow to market its upcoming multi-tranche US$ bond issuance. Oman is the first CEEMEA sovereign to offer such paper in 2018 and as such the sale will be closely watched to judge the potential level of investor appetite this year. Oman raised US$5 bio via a similar issuance in May last year. The country is currently rated as follows; BB (S&P), BBB- (Fitch) and Baa2 by Moodys.

Saudi Arabia’s Non-Oil Sector Continues To Expand.
The Emirates NBD purchasing managers index for Saudi Arabia declined only slightly last month to 57.30 from November’s record high of 57.50. "The December PMI survey continued to show a strong rate of expansion in December, and the data suggests that non-oil growth accelerated in the final quarter of 2017, as well as for the year as a whole compared to 2016," a spokesperson for ENBD was quoted as saying by Reuters this morning.

Egypt’s FX Reserves Rise.
Egypt’s Foreign Exchange reserves totaled US$37.02 bio at the end of 2017, their highest level on record, according to the latest data published by the Central Bank.

Tunisia’s Debt Burden Grows.
Tunisia’s external debt position had expanded to US$18.72 bio (48.35% of GDP) by the end of November last year according to a statement by the country’s Ministry of Finance earlier this week. In December the IMF said Tunisia’s overall public debt position would reach 70% of GDP by the end of 2017  and warned that; “The main challenge for the months ahead is to make-up for the significant delays in lifting long-standing obstacles to growth and addressing large fiscal and external deficits.”

Salini Impregilo Wins UAE Contract.
Italy’s Salini Impreglino has been awarded a US$200 mio contract to design and build a 5km transit connection route between the Capital District and CBD areas of Abu Dhabi.

Anycolour To Build Manufacturing Plant In Kenya.
China’s Anycolor Computer Consumables Company announced yesterday that it was planning to establish both a manufacturing plant and an East African sales centre in Kenya.

Nigeria Secures US$550 Mio Satellite Deal With China.
Nigeria says it has committed to purchase two communications satellites from China for US$550 mio. Funding for this acquisition will be provided by China’s EXIM Bank and the satellite manufacturer China Great Wall who will receive a stake in Nigeria’s Nigcomsat.

04-01-2017

AND FINALLY…
Did you know that the “Epic of Gilgamesh” dates to 2100BC and is recognized as the world’s first piece of classic literature ? The narrative was written on twelve clay tablets which were discovered in Iraq in 1853.

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