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African press review 11 July 2015

Trouble looms for the South African mining industry, hit by a slowdown in Chinese demand for raw materials and by a global slump in prices. Nigeria's president is told by his own advisors that a national electricity plan is pure fiction. And the fate of the African lion hangs by a thread.

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There's more trouble facing the South African mining sector, according to the main story on the front page of this morning's Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay.

Under the headline "Miners’ focus shifts from investor returns to survival", we learn that global mining companies, currently preparing to issue their annual results, are likely to announce another round of austerity measures in an effort to cut costs and convince investors to remain committed to the sector.

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The main problem, according to BusinessDay, is the continuing weakness of raw material prices on the world market.

The value of shares on the London Stock Exchange mining index has fallen by about 15 per cent since the start of the year.

The Nigerian government’s plans to improve electricity supplies are "not remotely realistic", according to a report by experts advising President Muhammadu Buhari.

Chronic power shortages are one of the biggest constraints on investment and growth in Africa’s largest economy. Fixing the problem was one of the key battlegrounds during the presidential campaign ahead of elections last March.

Buhari’s All Progressives Congress pledged in its manifesto to increase supplies from 3,600MW currently to 20,000MW within four years and 50,000MW within 10 years, which would meet the demands of Nigeria’s 170 million people.

However, reaching 20,000MW by 2020 is "not even remotely realistic" according to a 54-page report by presidential advisors.

Nigeria produces less than a 10th of the amount of electricity provided by South Africa for a much smaller population.

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Experts say solving Nigeria's power problem would reduce business costs by up to 40 per cent and push growth in Africa’s biggest oil producer well into double-digits. But billions of dollars of investment and major structural reforms would be required to make that possible.

Mali meanwhile has signed an agreement to build west Africa’s first industrial-scale solar power plant.

Announced yesterday, the 52-million-euro unit is to be constructed in partnership with a Norwegian company near the south-western city of Segou.

The plant is expected to produce enough electricity each year to power 60,000 typical family homes, while cutting annual carbon dioxide emissions by about 46,000 tonnes.

The main story in regional paper The East African reports that the African lion has been added to the growing list of animals threatened with extinction.

Lion numbers have been declining across Africa, forcing the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to classify the “king of the jungle” as vulnerable on its updated list of endangered species.

Lions are considered to be critically endangered in west Africa where only 404 individuals survive in a still-declining population. A recent survey found that lions have lost almost 99 per cent of their former hunting territory in west Africa.

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The top story in the Kenyan Daily Nation reports that prominent politicians under investigation by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission could have played a big role in the passage of a bill which recommends the sacking of the anti-fraud commission's bosses.

According to the Nation, the manner in which MPs across the political divide voted indicates that they were acting to save individuals named in the List of Shame by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

If the law is signed by the president, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission will be crippled until new commissioners can be appointed.

The Cairo-based Egypt Independent says that President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has endorsed an amended law defining voting districts, removing the last hurdle for setting the date for the long-delayed parliamentary elections.

Egypt has not had an elected legislature since 2012, when the country's Supreme Court ruled that the parliament's lower chamber was not constitutionally elected.

An earlier version of the law was declared unconstitutional by the same court in March. The court at the time said the law failed to guarantee equal representation for voters and asked that it be amended.

A judicial official yesterday said the reviewed version appeared to take into account the Supreme Court's concerns.

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