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Soccer World Cup qualifier: Nigeria trounces Central African Republic

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Nigeria centre-backs Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong redeemed themselves by playing key roles in a 2-0 World Cup qualifying away victory over the Central African Republic on Sunday.

They had been criticised for allowing Karl Namnganda to score in the final minute three days ago as the Central African Republic snatched a stunning 1-0 Group C triumph in Lagos.

Balogun from Scottish Premiership giants Rangers was first to make amends, scoring in the 29th minute of the second meeting to put the Super Eagles ahead.

Troost-Ekong, who plays for Premier League outfit Watford, atoned in first-half added time by setting up Napoli sharpshooter Victor Osimhen for the second Nigerian goal.

top the table after four rounds with nine points, two more than Cape Verde, who snatched a 1-0 home win over Liberia thanks to a 90th-minute goal from captain Ryan Mendes.

No one was more relieved after Nigeria turned the tables on the Wild Beasts than coach Gernot Rohr as many Super Eagles supporters had demanded his immediate sacking following the Lagos loss.

“I received a very good reaction from my team. Everybody wanted to avenge what happened on Thursday,” said the 68-year-old German who has been in charge of Nigeria since 2016.

“We altered the system, playing three defenders, and it worked. The leadership of Ahmed Musa was also vital and congratulations to him for winning his 100th cap.

“Central African Republic were difficult opponents. They committed many fouls, which made it hard for us to create rhythm.”

– Musa milestone –

Forward Musa is only the third Nigerian to reach the 100-cap milestone after former Everton defender Joseph Yobo and goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

Nigeria visit Liberia and host Cape Verde next month, and the table toppers will join nine other group winners in play-offs during March to decide the five African qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Tanzania, the fifth lowest ranked team among the 40 who qualified for the group stage, won 1-0 in Benin through an early Simon Msuva goal to regain the Group J lead.

They are ahead of Benin on goals scored with top seeds the Democratic Republic of Congo two points adrift after losing 1-0 in Madagascar, whose second-minute winner came from Njiva Rakotoharimalala.

Mali retained a two-point advantage over Uganda in Group E after both countries achieved 1-0 victories to eliminate Kenya and Rwanda from the race to finish first.

Ibrahima Kone, whose hat-trick triggered a Malian goal blitz against the Kenyans last week, netted early in the second half to earn the Eagles maximum points in Nairobi.

Fahad Bayo was another forward to score in successive qualifiers, following up his winner for Uganda in Rwanda three days ago by netting the only goal of the return match in Entebbe.

After scoring 10 goals against the Seychelles in a two-leg preliminary tie, Rwanda have struggled at the higher level of the group stage, notching just one in four outings.

Group B leaders Tunisia failed to defeat Mauritania for the first time in a World Cup qualifier, drawing 0-0 in Nouakchott after winning five previous meetings spanning 21 years.

Former African champions Zambia continue to disappoint in the same section, surrendering a second-half lead given to them by Rangers’ Fashion Sakala in a 1-1 home draw against second-place Equatorial Guinea.

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ECOWAS Hardens Stance on recent African “Coup Nations”, Mali and Guinea

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The West African regional grouping ECOWAS on Sunday hardened its stance against military-ruled Mali and Guinea, imposing new individual sanctions and calling on both countries to honor timetables for a return to democracy.

The Economic Community of West African States “has decided to sanction all those implicated in the delay” in organizing elections set for February 27 in Mali, ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou told AFP after a summit of the 15-nation group in the Ghanaian capital Accra.

He said Mali had “officially written” to Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, who holds the rotating presidency of ECOWAS, to inform him that the Sahel country could not hold elections as planned.

“All the transition authorities are concerned by the sanctions which will take immediate effect,” Brou said, adding that they included travel bans and assets freezes.

In a final declaration following Sunday’s summit, ECOWAS said it “highly deplores the lack of progress” towards staging elections in Mali.

As for Guinea, where soldiers seized power on September 5, ECOWAS decided to uphold the country’s suspension from the bloc as well as sanctions against individual junta members and their families.

It also reiterated its demand for the “unconditional release” of president Alpha Conde, 83, who has been under house arrest since his ouster.

In the final declaration, it praised the adoption of a “transition charter,” the appointment of a civilian prime minister and the formation of a transitional government.

But it called on the authorities to “urgently submit a detailed timetable… towards the holding of elections” in the country of 13 million people.

Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, who overthrew Conde after months of discontent against his government, had promised to restore civilian rule after a transition period of unspecified length.

At a September summit, ECOWAS demanded that Guinea hold elections within six months.

The regional leaders also demanded that the Mali junta adhere “strictly” to that country’s transition timetable.

ECOWAS rescinded economic sanctions against Mali and its suspension from the organization when the junta headed by Colonel Assimi Goita pledged a transition of no more than 18 months.

But Goita went on to mount a new coup in May, deposing transitional president Bah Ndaw and his prime minister, Moctar Ouane.

ECOWAS suspended Mali once again, but did not apply new sanctions.

Swathes of Mali, a vast nation of 19 million people, lie outside of government control because of a jihadist insurgency that emerged in the north in 2012, before spreading to the center of the country as well as neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Brou noted that the deployment of contractors from the Russian paramilitary group Wagner in Mali was “one of the concerns of the heads of state.”

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Why The West African Oil Boom Ended So Abruptly

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Global oil production is slowly recovering towards pre-Covid-19 levels, but in West Africa the pandemic is set to leave lasting effects. This important region for sweet crude oil production faces numerous challenges as it strives to heal from the pandemic, including underinvestment, a lack of infill drilling at mature fields, and infrastructure that is either aging or threatened, a Rystad Energy analysis showed.

Sweet crude is the preferred oil grade to make jet fuel – the worst-hit segment as oil demand plunged last year. West African crude oil production dropped to 3.71 million barrels per day (bpd) last year from 4.12 million bpd in 2019, and is set to decline further to 3.39 million bpd this year. While we expect output to tick back up in 2022 and 2023 as jet fuel demand returns, production is set to fall below 3 million bpd already from 2025 unless heavyweights Nigeria and Angola can stage a strong comeback and shake off the dismal growth trends of the past decade.

West Africa’s oil production was not destined to follow this current grim projection before Covid-19 hit – in fact, the region was in line for more investment and activity. Last year’s low oil prices and the unstable market conditions that have continued into 2021 changed the outlook, however, as major operators decided to practice capital discipline and limit their investment exposure in regions including West Africa.

As a result, Rystad Energy has reduced its forecast for West African crude oil output by 600,000 bpd for 2021 and by 650,000 bpd for 2026, compared with our pre-Covid-19 projections.

“The structural upstream obstacles that West Africa faces are realities that are not going away in the short term. Even if jet fuel makes a spectacular recovery and demand for light and medium sweet crude grades returns, Nigeria and Angola, as well as other neighbors in structural upstream decline, will not be in a position to supply the market,” says Nishant Bhushan, upstream analyst at Rystad Energy.

The region’s decline in 2021 is driven by its two biggest oil producers, Nigeria and Angola, which together are estimated to have lost 440,000 bpd versus the pre-Covid-19 forecast. We also estimate that crude oil production has dropped significantly in countries such as Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea, which together produced between 250,000 bpd and 300,000 bpd in 2010. Equatorial Guinea has seen a 60% reduction in oil production and Gabon nearly 35% in the past 11 years.

Crude oil production from West African countries was expected to pick up pace in tandem with their Middle Eastern counterparts as the OPEC+ group opened its supply taps. But even as OPEC+ production caps have gradually eased, Nigeria and Angola have not been able to ramp back up to their pre-shut-in production levels.

Crude production is not the only thing that’s been hit in the past couple of years. Since the start of 2020, we have also seen that the overall crude production capacity in Nigeria and Angola has taken a major blow. This is due to a number of reasons, including rapid declines at mature fields due to a lack of infill drilling, postponement of final investment decisions that were originally planned for 2020 and 2021, a lack of investment in oil and pipeline infrastructure which leads to frequent production shut-ins (prevalent in Nigeria), and civil unrest caused by militia groups.

West Africa has never had much unused capacity – most countries have produced at maximum capacity even as that capacity was gradually declining. When OPEC+ unveiled its massive 9.8 million bpd cut program in May 2020, the region had an overall oil production capacity of 4.2 million bpd. We estimate this has dropped by almost 420,000 bpd to around 3.8 million bpd by the end of 2021, and will keep shrinking to 3.5-3.6 million bpd by the end of next year.

Nigeria

Nigeria produces sweet crude grades ranging from light to heavy, but most of the volumes fall into medium to light grades. We expect the output of all sweet crude grades in Nigeria will decrease on the back of declining production from mature fields. The major drop in crude oil production is in grades like Bonga, Egina, and Qua IBoe, which are estimated to fall collectively by 180,000 bpd to 200,000 bpd by 2026 from 2021. Other crude grades, like Forcados, Bonny Light, Escravos, and Erha, are estimated to remain little changed, while some growth will be seen in crude grades like Amenam, Brass River, and Jonas Creek.

The decline in Nigeria’s crude oil production in recent years looks more structural as the country has failed to attract new investments in its oil and gas industry, be it in exploration, greenfield developments, or brownfield expansions. In the short term, we estimate Nigeria’s crude oil production will rise to about 1.55 million bpd in 2022 and 1.58 million bpd in 2023, with some new marginal field developments adding 30,000-35,000 bpd in 2022 and another 35,000-40,000 bpd in 2023. At the same time, some fields currently in the ramp-up phase are estimated to add 65,000-70,000 bpd in 2022, but only 10,000-15,000 bpd in 2023. After 2023, we estimate Nigeria’s output will continue to slide due to a lack of significant new discoveries, slipping to as low as 1.25 million bpd by 2026.

Angola

Like Nigeria, Angola’s decline in crude oil production is also structural, and production has been plummeting since 2015 – from 1.74 million bpd in 2015 to almost 1.11 million bpd in 2021. This output slump is the direct result of a lack of new investments in exploration and a failure by operators to halt the production decline at mature oil fields. New upstream projects are estimated to add 40,000-45,000 bpd this year and another 80,000-90,000 bpd in 2022, but this will not be enough to halt the downward spiral that will reduce Angola’s crude oil production to between 750,000 bpd and 800,000 bpd by 2026.

Angola mostly produces sweet crude, and we expect production of all the major sweet crude grades to slide in the coming years. We see overall sweet to regular crude grade output slumping by almost 300,000 bpd from 2021 to 2026 – a drop of about 30%. Major crude grades such as Nemba, Dalia, Mostarda, Gindungo, Girassol, and Kissanje are estimated to cumulatively decline by 280,000-300,000 bpd in 2026 from 2021. Some smaller crude grades like Sangos, Saturno, Cabinda, and Plutonio are estimated to remain at similar levels or inch up by 15,000-20,000 bpd combined.

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African Union (AU) Suspends Sudan Over Coup

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Days after the military ousted the transitional government and took over power in Sudan, the African Union Commission announced the suspension of Khartoum from the union.

The country’s military had sacked its transitional government and took power in a coup led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

The suspension was announced on Wednesday by the political affairs, peace and security department of the African Union Commission in a tweet.

The military arrested some members of Sudan’s transitional government and other civilian leaders who were supposed to oversee a return to full civilian rule.

The government was installed after Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April 2019.

According to the AU, the suspension will be in place until the transitional government is restored.

The union also called for the release of all the civilian leaders being detained by the military.

“AUPSC decides to suspend the participation of the Republic of Sudan in all AU activities until the effective restoration of the civilian-led Transitional Authority; Welcomes the release of the PM; Calls for the immediate release of the ministers & civilian officials in detention,” the tweet read.

 

 

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