Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Subprime Crisis

Understanding the Financial Crisis

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Oversupply of Lithium-Ion Batteries: A Rebuttal

By Jim Greenberger

On Tuesday I attended a Webinar produced by Lux Research entitled “Risk and Reward in the Over-hyped Electric Vehicle Market”.  The program was well done, but largely rehashed an argument, which has been widely made over the past several months:  That for the foreseeable future the supply of large format lithium-ion batteries will substantially exceed the demand for such batteries in automotive applications.  The negative assessment by Lux and other lithium-ion skeptics is overly pessimistic, however, because it misidentifies the primary driver of the large format lithium-ion battery market.
Lux makes two arguments in support of its assessment.  First, Lux suggests that adoption of heavy PHEV’s (i.e., PHEV-40’s, such as the Chevy Volt) and EV’s (pure electric vehicles, such as the Nissan LEAF) will be driven by the “payback period” for those vehicles (i.e., fuel cost savings over EV/PHEV purchase price differential).  In the Webinar, Lux presented a slide showing the purported sensitivity of PHEV/EV sales to petroleum prices.  At $70 per barrel, Lux anticipates some impact on HEV (hybrid-electric vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius) sales but virtually no impact on sales of EV’s or heavy PHEV’s.  At $140 per barrel, Lux anticipates a more profound impact on HEV sales, but virtually no impact on EV sales and only a mild increase in heavy PHEV sales starting sometime around 2017.  At $200 per barrel, Lux anticipates a somewhat more rapid increase in heavy PHEV sales starting at about 2015, but only a small increase in EV sales beginning at about the same time.
Lux’s second argument, also illustrated on a slide, overlaid the foregoing oil price sensitivity analysis on top of the announced manufacturing capacity of all Tier 1 (e.g., GS Yuasa, Sanyo), Tier 2 (e.g., LG Chem, Hitachi) and Tier 3 (e.g., A123, Ener1) large format lithium-ion battery suppliers through 2020.  The slide showed, in somewhat dramatic fashion, that even in the most optimistic scenario (i.e., oil at $200 per barrel) total demand for EV/PHEV batteries by 2020 would not exceed the manufacturing capacity of even just the Tier 1 battery suppliers.
In conclusion, the Lux analyst making the presentation politely suggested that advanced battery companies need to be more “flexible” in their approach to the market.  Properly understood, the message of the Webinar was to forget about the advanced automotive battery producers and invest, perhaps, in oil futures.
Although thorough and sobering, Lux’s analysis of the large format lithium-ion battery market is fundamentally flawed because it misidentifies the primary driver of EV/PHEV market:  Vehicle electrification is not driven by oil prices; it is driven by government policy.   Predicting consumer adoption of fuel efficient vehicles based on oil prices is unsound.  The number of EV’s and heavy PHEV’s that American consumers will purchase between now and 2020 will have far less to do with the price of petroleum than with the nature of the government incentives and mandates that will drive consumers to make such purchases.
The tenuous relationship between gasoline prices and consumer demand for fuel economy is no secret.  If the relationship was more certain, there would be no need for CAFE standards.  The affection of American consumers for large automobiles has never been entirely rational.  Moreover, petroleum producers have long demonstrated a willingness and an ability to manipulate oil prices in the short term in order to thwart serious progress on the problems of fuel economy and petroleum dependence.  As a consequence, the more accurate predictor of consumer purchases of EV’s and heavy PHEV’s--and the volume of the large format lithium-ion battery market--is the nature of government mandates, not the price of petroleum.
A more important point, however, is that policies intended to incent consumers to purchase EV’s and heavy PHEV’s are not primarily about improving fuel economy.  Adding EV’s and heavy PHEV’s to the national vehicle fleet would improve the overall fuel efficiency of the fleet, but they are almost certainly not the most cost-effective way to do so.  Vehicle electrification is but one of many strategies that auto makers can use to improve the fuel efficiency of their fleets.  Reducing the weight of vehicles, improving the efficiency of the internal combustion engine and adding start-stop batteries are other strategies and are, by most estimates, more cost effective.  This is the point that Lux and other lithium-ion skeptics, such as John Petersen of Seeking Alpha, keep harping on ad nauseum.
But they miss the point.  The need for heavy vehicle electrification (i.e., for adding large numbers of EV’s and heavy PHEV’s to the national vehicle fleet) is driven by the need for fuel diversity, not fuel economy.  Fuel economy and fuel diversity are different and not necessarily related concepts.  Reducing total petroleum usage is an economic objective driven by concerns about the impact of high energy prices on the U.S. economy and the transfer of wealth to overseas producers.  Reducing petroleum dependence of the U.S. vehicle fleet by diversifying its sources of fuel is a strategic objective driven by the need to protect the country against a catastrophic Oil Shock event and to reduce the huge political, economic and strategic costs that the United States pays on an ongoing basis to guard against it.
Heavy vehicle electrification is critical to the important national objective of fuel diversity.  While there may be better ways to achieve fuel economy than heavy vehicle electrification, EV’s and PHEV’s are indispensible in any effort to diversify the fuel sources of the national vehicle fleet and to protect the U.S. against an Oil Shock event.  There simply are no other practical, near term alternatives to vehicle electrification if meaningful fuel diversity is to be achieved.
This, of course, leads us back to that primary driver of fuel economy and fuel diversity in the vehicle fleet:  government policy.  It is notoriously difficult to predict what government policy will be, particularly in the long term.  Moreover, there is cause for pessimism that U.S. government policy will really support heavy vehicle electrification.  The concepts of fuel economy and fuel diversity are regularly confused and this confusion leads to muddled policy towards both fuel economy standards and electrification initiatives.  The current debate within the environmental community about the treatment of electric vehicles in CAFE standards is a case in point.
But clearer thinking may yet prevail.  The almost complete reliance of the entire U.S. vehicle fleet on a single source of fuel is one of the great challenges of our time.  Reducing the amount of petroleum consumed—so that we can use less gasoline and pay more for it—without breaking our absolute dependence on oil is a very poor energy policy and, undoubtedly, the wildest dream of every petroleum producer.   
The U.S. government will support vehicle electrification long term and will do what it needs to do to make sure that EV’s and PHEV’s become a significant part of the national vehicle fleet.  It will not do this because oil prices rise to $140 or $200 per barrel.  It will do this because the United States needs to do it in order to avoid a national disaster and because not all national leaders are fools.
Don’t sell your lithium-ion battery producer stocks just yet.
Jim Greenberger is the Executive Director of NAATBatt, a trade association of companies in the advanced battery industry working to grow the market for advanced batteries in the United States, primarily in automotive and grid-connected energy storage applications.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tanzania Country Brief: April 2010

Tanzania is attempting to rebuild its transport infrastructure following a series of floods that washed out roads and railroad tracks across the country. Ephraim Mrema, CEO of the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS), came under fire in April for failing to visit badly affected regions. Fellow employees and various politicians have accused Mrema of corruption and poor judgment, and said he lacks the qualifications to lead the agency. Some of this may be true, however, much also points to typical political manoeuvring during an election year. Meanwhile, officials say washed out rail lines leading up country from Dar es Salaam will be back up and running by late May. And Canada’s Mercator Transport Group opened an office at the Dar es Salaam port this month from which it plans to launch marine, air and road transportation services.

The East African Submarine Cable System (EASSY) landed in Dar es Salaam in early April. The fibre optic internet connection is expected to greatly increase bandwidth speeds and availability. However, as has been the case in neighbouring Kenya, arrival of the cable will not ensure immediate cost reductions or access for inland customers. It is expected that as East Africa hooks into several new undersea fibre cable systems, costs will come down over the next several years as pricing competition rises.

320,000 government workers had threatened to go on strike beginning 5 May to demand higher wages and better benefits. The Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) initially rejected pleas to avoid the strike, saying government promises to address wage disputes have not been honoured in the past. After heated exchanges and caustic public threats made by President Kikwete himself, TUCTA finally called off the strike - just one day before the country began hosting the World Economic Forum (WEF). The union says it will continue to negotiate with the government, although Kikwete has said full wage raises are off the table due to high government spending on economic stimulus packages. Commentators have noted that the president’s harsh response might dent his popular appeal going in to the October 2010 election.


* Public borrowing is expected to rise in Tanzania this year, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), as the government continues with attempts to stimulate the economy without cutting expenditures and while facing poor revenues from slow growth and less donor support due to corruption scandals and the global crisis. The fiscal deficit for 2009/10 has been revised to 5.3% of GDP, up from 4.4% in 2008/09, and with 5% forecast for 2010/11. EIU analysts say the state may have trouble raising the capital it needs to meet its medium-term commitments, which could reduce economic opportunities.
* Tanzania will follow Uganda and Kenya in May by switching from the arithmetic to geometric method of inflation calculation, which aligns with international standards. The National Bureau of Statistics says inflation could fall by as much as 6%, given that the old method tends to overstate rates. However, recent heavy rains and flooding that destroyed crops in Tanzania mean food prices may remain high this year and continue to push inflation rates up. Inflation did drop to 9.6% in February 2010, down from the double digit rates of 2009.

South Africa’s Ranger Production Company won a SAR24m (USD3m) tender this month to supply 430 motorbike ambulances to the Tanzanian Health Department. The unique ambulances are outfitted with sidecars and meant to reach patients – such as women giving birth – in remote areas.

The Tanzanian Parliament passed the long-awaited Mining Act 2010 on 23 April, after years of debate over how to reform the sector and improve relations between mining companies and locals. If it receives presidential approval, the new act will raise royalty rates from 3% to 4% for precious and base metals, from 5% to 6% for diamonds and gemstones, and apply a flat 7% rate to uranium and standard 3% rate for other minerals. Royalties will be calculated based on gross revenue.

The act also requires mining companies to list on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange, and provides for a government stake in all future mining projects. Foreign firms would no longer be able to receive gemstone mining licenses without taking a minority stake partnership with Tanzanians. And the government will set aside specific areas for artisanal miners who have complained of being overrun by large mining operations.

The Tanzania Chamber of Minerals and Energy, a private industry body, came out strongly against the act, asking President Kikwete not to sign it because the provisions fail to clarify the fiscal and regulatory frameworks needed to attract investment. The chamber also warned that the country’s gemstone industry could be derailed if licenses are restricted to local investors. Barrick Gold and Anglogold Ashanti, two of the largest companies already operating mines in Tanzania, said the new law would not affect their current agreements with the government, which guarantee fiscal stability. Tanzania is Africa’s third largest gold producer, following South Africa and Ghana.


* Canada’s Orca Exploration announced plans this month to raise natural gas production at Tanzania’s Songo Songo fields by 60% by 2012. The company is targeting 144m cubic feet per day in order to meet growing domestic demand for power as the country continues to suffer from chronic electricity shortages. Projects such as Artumas Group’s planned300 MW gas-to-power plant would require far more natural gas than is currently produced in Tanzania. Meanwhile, exploration company Aminex said this month that it should soon be able to go ahead with commercial gas development and expansion of its gas handling plant at Songo Songo.
* Norway’s Statoil transferred a 35% stake in its Tanzanian deep water exploration block to a local subsidiary of Exxon Mobile this month. Statoil says it is optimistic about developing the offshore acreage.
* Tullow Oil announced in early April that its drilling activities in Tanzania’s Ruvuma delta region have returned encouraging signs of oil and gas deposits. The Likonde-1 well encountered thick sands with hydrocarbon shows, although it had to be abandoned due to the presence of high pressured gas. The company plans to drill a second well after further tests.

* America’s Solar Energy Limited announced intentions this month to buy Peloton Mining, whose main asset is exploration and mining rights to an alluvial property in southeast Tanzania. The company has completed its due diligence and is in the process of raising USD3m in debt and equity to finance the site’s first alluvial production plant.
* Mantra Resources Ltd reported in late April the encouraging presence of multiple thick, high grade zones of sandstone-hosted uranium mineralisation at shallow depths at its Mkuju River Project in southern Tanzania. Mantra says it is aggressively pursuing its exploration activities in the country.
* Barrick Gold also announced this month that reverse circulation drilling at its Tulawaka gold mine in Tanzania has identified a new zone of gold mineralisation. Underground exploration has also identified extensions to high grad shoots that could point to further reserves and extend the life of Tulawaka beyond 2010. That would be relatively good news for Tanzanian gold production, which faces a steady decline in coming years from current mines and a lack of new investment commitments due to an unfavourable regulatory environment.

* Tanzania is one of several emerging market countries in which Vodafone will now roll out an Opera mini internet browser for low cost handsets on second generation – 2G – networks. Opera brings mobile data to basic handsets by compressing data to save bandwidth and processing power.
* And the Tanzanian government says it will pay USD6.8m in outstanding invoices and provide a guarantee to back loans as it moves to reclaim a 100% stake in the Tanzania Telecommunications Company Ltd, which has had trouble in recent years accessing credit and capital. The company is in the process of acquiring a 35% stake in Zain Tanzania, and is also one of two investors in the EASSY fibre optic cable and the only licensed operator connected to the SEACOM fibre cable in Tanzania.

* Tanzania’s Exim Bank has announced plans to open subsidiaries in Zambia and Djibouti in June 2010 as part of its regional expansion plan. Exim already operates in the Comoros. The bank posted a 20% increase in total assets and a pre-tax profit increase of 13% for 2009.
* Diamond Trust Bank also reported a rise in net profits for 2009, which hit USD2.8m up from USD2m in 2008.
* The Mwanga Rural Community Bank announced at its AGM in April projections for a 35% rise in customer deposits and a 16% increase in profits for 2010.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) signed two loan agreements with Tanzania in April, worth TZS322.5bn (USD230m). Most of the money will go toward constructing the Iringa to Dodoma and Tunduru to Namtumbo roads through the Road Sector Support Project over the next five years. The Mtwara port, Ministry of Communications and Transport, and the Dar-Kigali railway project will also get a small share. AfDB officials say the Tanzanian government must open a special compensation account to refund locals affected by these projects before the money can be disbursed. No other conditions were reported, despite Tanzania’s increasingly soured reputation for corrupt use of donor funds.

The third East African Community Investment Conference was held in Kampala in late April in hopes of promoting the EAC market as a single destination. A USD74bn joint investment programme to upgrade transport systems and boost power generation was presented at the conference. It remains unclear as to where the funding will come from to diffuse these infrastructural bottlenecks, although EAC officials continue to promote public-private partnerships. Other efforts are underway to increase regional integration as the full launch of the common market approaches in July 2010.

The EAC Secretariat commissioned a study this month on how to facilitate sharing of customs duties and other public revenues such as visa fees once goods and people entering the region will only have to pay at one entry point. This has been regarded warily by most members. However, the East African Business Council recently lauded efforts by member state revenue authorities to implement best practice customs union policies and improve border clearance times.

The executive director of Rwanda's Capital Markets Advisory Council also spoke in April about the need to harmonise the region’s stock exchanges, although this advancement remains a long way off.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rwanda Country Brief: February 2010

Latest Rwanda developments in February 2010: Business environment, political risk, transactions, data releases, regulatory and legal changes, industry and regional news.

Fuel prices hit a record high in early February, up 3.5% to RWF918 per litre from January’s RWF887. Local authorities attribute the hike to a 4% increase since last month in international oil prices. Transport and food costs are expected to rise. In its ongoing quest to build much needed city infrastructure, the Kigali City Council (KCC) has completed plans for a large sewage treatment plant to be constructed near Kigali. KCC will now begin raising funds for the project. Works have already begun on a central water treatment plant for the central business district. But for now, commercial property developers are still expected to construct their own sewage systems. The African Development Bank (AfDB) is also expected to contribute RWF1bn to upgrade water pipelines throughout the greater Kigali area.

Experts from Iceland, Kenya and Germany met this month to discuss how to exploit Rwanda’s geothermal energy potential. Kenya’s KenGen was contracted last year to locate potential drilling sites. Kenya has thus far failed to exploit much of its own vast geothermal reserves. Geothermal development is extremely costly and difficult, and this month’s meeting in Rwanda raised more questions than answers.

The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) announced plans this month to transfer income-generating projects to the private sector. Akagera National Park was handed over to South Africa’s African Parks Networks (APN) in January 2010, while Korea Telecom has been brought on to build internet networks. The Volcanoes and Nyungwe national parks could present profitable opportunities for private investors. Meanwhile, the government has begrudgingly extended a December 2009 deadline to complete basic ground works on a new free trade zone to March 2010. Officials are keen to see construction start on a USD27m industrial facility there that is expected to create 5,000 jobs.

Kenya’s Credit Reference Bureau Africa was granted a license this month by Rwanda’s Central Bank to provide credit information sharing services. CRB Africa plans to invest at least RWF300m (USD525,000) over the next year to set up an office and call centre in the country. Financiers say the bureau will help banks increase credit access and lower interest rates for good return customers, however this may be delayed by the time required to build up credit histories in a country with such low financial services penetration.


* Simultaneous grenade attacks in Kigali this month killed at least two people. Some say the attackers were Hutu militiamen connected to the 1994 genocide. Human Rights Watch has expressed concern about increasing violence and intimidation against opposition party members and candidates going into the August 2010 election.
* In early February, controversial opposition candidate Victoire Ingabire was attacked by a mob in Kinyinya. Ingabire escaped unscathed while her assistant was badly beaten and later arrested on genocide charges. The government has threatened to arrest Ingabire for breaking a genocide ideology law that Amnesty International says is vague and used to silence political opposition. A deluge of editorials written by the state-controlled New Times newspaper this month have lobbed caustic criticism against Ingabire.
* Meanwhile, the Media High Council has been tasked with imposing new regulations that could further limit press freedom. This is all a reminder that while President Kagame intends to maintain tight control over the country straight through this year’s poll, animosities continue to bubble under the surface and could pose problems during the next election cycle as the question of presidential succession becomes more pronounced.
* Despite President Kagame’s much lauded anti-corruption efforts, the 2008 Auditor General’s report out this month depicts a government still dogged by low-level graft and debt. Districts across the country are in debt, while the Kigali City Council has defaulted on nearly USD2m in loans. RWF4.3bn (USD7.5m, about 1% of the state budget) in public funds were lost in 2008 to fraud and inefficiency. This remains a far cry from the culture of corruption that persists in neighbors like Kenya and Tanzania, but does indicate bureaucratic challenges and suggest that Rwanda’s aid dependence will not end anytime soon.


* Rwanda’s trade deficit widened by 20% in 2009, according to data released by the Ministry of Finance and Economic planning, due to drops in coffee, tea and mineral exports and rising consumer good and fuel imports.
* Government statistics put inflation down to 4.5% for January, driven by falling food prices. The Central Bank expects inflation to remain low for 2010 with help from agricultural recovery.

The Rwanda Bureau of Standards is in the midst of expanding its capacity to include testing of chemical materials by the end of 2010. RBS is also attempting to improve domestic quality standards on products for export. Unlike in neighboring Tanzania, where standards have been used mostly as non-tariff barriers, capacity building at RBS should be good for trade. The Private Sector Federation through its Business Development Services arm has accused district officials of illegally raising the cost of a Patenté trading license from RWF20,000 to RWF40,000. The Rwanda Revenue Authority says the move is within the law, but BDS argues the two-fold hike cannot be justified.

Insurance companies weighed in this month on a 2008 law that requires companies to split their business between long- and short-term activities, with separate two-year licenses to be issued for each. Companies say the law formalises best practice in the industry, but have expressed concern about high capital requirements also written into the legislation.


* Tourism: The international Rezidor Hotel Group has announced plans to develop a 292-room Radisson Blu Hotel and Convention Centre in Kigali, to be opened in 2012. Rezidor will also open hotels this year in South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Zambia. Following its 2008 purchase of a 35% stake in Rwanda’s leading insurance company, Sonarwa, Nigerian insurance giant Industrial and General Insurance (IGI) announced this month that it will invest USD10m to build a new hotel in Kigali. In an effort to diversify the country’s tourism offerings, the RDB has with help from the UN developed a 202-kilometer Congo-Nile tourist trail that winds along Lake Kivu. Better infrastructure still needs to be developed to promote access to the route. The RDB is also creating birding routes and training bird guides this year to boost bird tourism.
* Air travel: RwandAir launched a direct flight from Kigali to Dar es Salaam this month, with a return stop in Bujumbura. The route will help promote tourism links and attract business from cross-border traders. Flights are available three times a week, on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.
* Agribusiness: Rwandan tea authority, Ocir-Thé announced plans this month to increase the land area in Rwanda dedicated to tea plantations from 12,000 to 21,000 hectares by 2012. While relatively strong, Rwandan tea production has fallen short of targets. The government is pushing to privatise more of the sector to encourage higher output. Coffee production is expected to rise by 26 tonnes in 2010. International coffee prices are up and the sector has begun recovering from a poor performance in 2009. Rwandan farmers have begun planting climbing beans rather than bush beans, in recognition of the variety’s resilience, high yields and export potential. New disease-resistant seeds suited to rain and high altitudes are available, and the beans grow vertically, which is helpful given Rwanda’s land scarcity. Finally, the government opened a tractor assembly plant in Rwanda this month, which is expected to make farming equipment available more cheaply to local farmers.
* Retail: Supermarkets Nakumatt and Simba have been hit by many shoplifters in recent months. Nakumatt is reporting up to 30 cases per month, although this is down from a previous average of 50. The stores say authorities have failed to prosecute perpetrators to prevent further incidents. A Simba cashier was also arrested in late January for allegedly stealing RWF6.2m (USD11,000) from the company.
* Banking: Kenya’s KCB began trading its shares on the Rwanda stock exchange in February. The bank says cross-listing is part of its regional expansion and integration strategy. The move should help boost Rwanda’s tiny but growing bourse. The government says it will launch a feasibility study this year for the introduction of mandatory deposit insurance, following the collapse two years ago of several microfinance institutions in the country. Fina Bank Rwanda has announced after tax profits of RWF770m (USD1.35m) for 2009, up from RWF570m (USD1m) in 2008. The bank attributes its success to branch expansion and technology upgrades, and has set a RWF1bn (USD1.75m) goal for 2010 profits.
* ICT: MTN Rwanda said in early February that it plans to cut its annual investment for 2010 to USD45m, down from USD100m in 2009. The company says it has already built the necessary capacity and intends to spend this year attracting more customers. The company also launched its anticipated mobile money product this month.

The Private Sector Foundation of Rwanda plans to carry out two studies this year to inform advocacy efforts by gauging sentiment on issues of interest to the country’s business community. Bureaucracy, taxes, vocational training and skills gaps are on the list. The organisation is likely attempting to rally support following criticism and funding shortfalls. The PSF is also working with the Rwanda Revenue Authority to train SMEs on producing annual financial statements. The RRA would like to see more SMEs filing credible tax returns.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was in Rwanda this month, acknowledging France’s role in the 1994 genocide, even if he shied away from a full apology. Sarkozy said France had made “mistakes” and “serious errors of judgment”, and admitted that France’s UN-mandated intervention had been “too late, and probably too little”. The mea culpa came up a bit short in most human rights activists’ books, but is a significant step in the two countries’ ongoing bid to rebuild relations.

Rwanda signed six agreements with the World Bank in February, worth USD120m. Over half of the money will go towards upgrading the national electricity transmission and distribution network in an effort to increase access. Less than 10% of Rwandans have access to electricity. The rest of the funds will go toward government programs in agriculture, energy and demobilization of armed groups. Germany also signed a EUR38.5m grant for Rwanda this month, for development programmes. And in a slightly bizarre form of development assistance, Japan gave state-owned Rwanda Television (RTV) a USD500,000 grant this month on condition that over 400 Japanese TV programmes be broadcast in English on the network. The cash won’t likely offer much in the way of support for more local programming.

President Kagame has called on the Rwanda Revenue Authority to better support trade across the Rwanda-DRC border. The president accuses local leaders of impeding the free flow of goods and people between the two countries, which are attempting to rebuild relations. Kenya jumped further onto the regional integration bandwagon this month by removing work permit requirements for Rwandans working in Kenya. Rwanda had already abolished the need for Kenyans to acquire a work permit in Rwanda. Uganda announced this month that it will be hosting this year’s annual East African Community Investment Conference from 26 to 29 April. It is good news that the conference will not be held in Kenya, where security concerns have recently threatened to derail other high-level fora. EAC officials have warned that upcoming elections in Rwanda and Burundi may slow down integration activities such as the implementation of a single tourist visa, and statistics database work, which require presidential commitments. Some activities may have to be rescheduled to 2011, but most technical work will go forward. President Kagame is also assured reelection and his push for integration will continue uninterrupted.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Portals to the World

Includes agriculture, banking, industry, investment, trade, chambers of commerce, directories of companies, economic statistics.
Afrol News (
A portal link to vast resources for sub-Saharan African countries.
Bioko - A conservation project (
Site created and maintained by the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program, a joint initiative of Arcadia University (formerly named Beaver College) and the Universidad Nacional de Guinea. Annual expedition, study abroad program.
Directory of Development Organizations (
" The Directory is a compilation of contact data of the main sources of assistance available for private sector development (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises) and poverty reduction. A wide range of organizations is included in the Directory: international organizations, government ministries, private sector institutions, development agencies, universities, research and training institutes, NGOs/PDOs, grantmakers, banks, microfinance institutions, and development consulting firms." Searchable by keyword.
Forests Monitor (
"Investigating the forest industry to empower forest-dependent peoples and raise public awareness." Publications, maps, information on forest companies. Includes documents of Africa Forest Law and Governance Process (AFLEG). Links to bushmeat, training and capacity building, corporate and ethical investments, environmental, forests and logging issues, and general environmental sites. Countries featured are:Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Equatorial Guinea, Russia, Sarawak and Papua New Guinea.
Global Archive -- Total Search (
Searches the archive of the British newspaper, Financial Times, online version.
International Monetary Fund (
The IMF is an "organization of 183 member countries, established to promote international monetary cooperation, exchange stability, and orderly exchange; to foster economic growth and high levels of employment; and to provide temporary financial assistance to countries to help ease balance of payments adjustment." A search by country will yield reports on the IMF's initiatives and programs in it.
Journal of Humanitarian Assistance (
Published at the Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, Bradford, U.K., this site may be searched for articles in the journal concerning a particular country.
Links To Essential Web Sites for International Organizations (
Site of the Information Resource Center in Lusaka, Zambia. Links to parastatals such as Red Cross, Red Crescent, ICRC, IMF, NATO, OAS, OECD, World Bank, WHO, WTO, International Studies Association, and International Communications Union.
Mbendi, Information for Africa (
" Africa's leading business website and one of the world's top mining, energy and international trade websites. The site has been designed to assist business-people to identify and research business opportunities in the country and industry sectors of their choice." Provides the economic profile, investment and information, such as visa requirements and currency exchange rates.
TradePort Directory (
Provides comprehensive trade information, trade leads, and company databases. Managed by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, and significant assistance was provided by the U.S. Commercial Service, the California Trade and Commerce Agency, and other sponsors.
UNRISD On-Line (U.N. Research Institute for Social Development) (
"UNRISD carries out research on the social dimensions of contemporary problems affecting development. Through its research, UNRISD stimulates dialogue and contributes to policy debates within and outside the United Nations system."
US. Trade Balance with Equatorial Guinea -.US Census Bureau (
Statistical tables begin with 1992.
United Nations (
The official site of the United Nations provides articles, reports, etc. in several languages on all aspects of the initiatives and mission of that organization as well as on the contemporary life, culture, society, international relations, etc. of all the countries and peoples of the world.
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) (
"Works for children's rights, their survival, development and protection, guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child." Siteoffers reports and information about the status and living situations of children in many countries.
United States Trade Representative (
As "America's chief trade negotiator and advisor to the President of the United States on trade policy, the USTR and the Agency itself work with other bodies, such as the World Trade Organization to create new job opportunities for American business, workers and agricultural producers." A search by country yields news, regulations, reports and initiatives on the United States' and USTR's dealings with it.
United States. Agency for International Development (USAID) (
"An independent agency that provides economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States."

United States. Agency for International Development. Development Experience Clearinghouse (DEC) ( )
"The purpose of the DEC is to strengthen USAID's development projects, activities, and programs by making ... developmentexperience documents available to USAID offices and mission staff, PVO's, NGO's, universities and research institutions, developing countries, and the public worldwide."
United States. Census Bureau. Foreign Trade Statistics (
Offers valuable statistics by country and by commodity beginning in 1996 and information about the U.S. trade balance with individual countries from 1992 onward.

United States. Department of Commerce. International Trade Administration (ITA)(
A branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the ITA site offers trade statistics, export data, publications and reports on a variety of issues related tointernational trade.
United States. Energy Information Administration (EIA)--Country Analysis Briefs (CAB): Sub-Saharan Africa. (
Provides an overview of the energy situation for all countries that are of current interest to energy analysts and policy makers. Provides data on oil, natural gas, electricity, coal, synthetic fuels; export, consumption, exploration and production; includes economic, energy, and environmental overview; also gives information on various factors affecting the energy sector. Links to important U.S. government and worldwide sites. Country briefs for 2001 and 2002 provided for: Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Rep. of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Great Lakes, Horn, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan and the SADC countries.
United States. Energy Information Administration. Energy Data (
Annual energy, energy balance and other energy-related data for the period 1980-2000; presented by fuel category; includes forecasts.
Websites of U.S. embassies and consulates (
Provides information on US government mission and services, and public and private sector information on each country.
The World Bank Group (
A search by country yields numerous English language reports on the economic development of regions of the world and theWorld Bank Groups' advice, initiatives and warnings concerning them.

World Chambers Network (
Searchable by country offers information about individual national chambers of commerce and about international trade includingnews and upcoming events of interest to the business world.
World Trade Organization (
Headquartered in Switzerland the WTO, made up of member governments from around the globe, is dedicated to topics concerning international trade and development. Its English language "website contains material for a range of users, from the general public to students, academics and trade specialists. It includes introductions to WTO activities and a large database of official documents."
Yahoo! Finance - Currency Conversion (
This service provided by Yahoo offers up-to-the-minute universal conversion rates of foreign currencies.