#EarlySignals - March 2022

10 March 2022


Our monthly selection of news, quotes and figures that slipped through the radar but could have significant implications


First global treaty on plastic pollution by 2024?

A resolution to end plastic pollution and develop an international legally binding agreement by the end of 2024 was adopted at the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) in Nairobi. The resolution, initiated by Rwanda and Peru, was ratified by 175 countries. Since 2000, 34 African countries have gradually adopted measures to ban plastic bags. Have these measures been successful? The results are mixed due to the implementation challenges, plastic dependency and an uneven environmental consciousness. South Africa has now the most successful model, with almost two-thirds of its plastic waste recycled in 2018 through the PET Recycling Company (PETCO), a recycling model since launched in Kenya and Ethiopia.  


"The actions and policies of certain members of the Zimbabwe government and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe's democratic processes or institutions continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States." Joe Biden, President of the United States, 03/03/2021.
This statement occurs amidst ongoing political tensions in Zimbabwe, marked by widespread arrests of political opponents, a few weeks before the parliamentary by-elections scheduled for 26 March. Late February, President Emmerson Mnangagwa called on the United States to lift sanctions in place since 2003. Mnangagwa, who is increasingly challenged by the opposition led by Nelson Chamisa and his new Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party, was hoping to boost his campaign with the announcement that the US had agreed to partially lift sanctions. Joe Biden's response is a setback for the ruling party and the president, a year before the presidential elections slated for July 2023. A loss in the March poll could undermine Mnangagwa's leadership within the Zanu-PF and prompt senior cadres to consider an alternative to his candidacy, even though he has already been nominated as the party flagbearer for 2023.   


14 - Licences d’exploration dans les hydrocarbures qui seront attribuées en 2022

According to the African Chamber of Energy's last report, at least 14 hydrocarbon exploration licences are to be granted this year in Africa. With majors gradually moving away from fossil fuels, does this figure reflect a renewed interest in the continent's hydrocarbons? This unusual concentration of awards is actually a result of the pandemic. Many of the tenders launched in 2019 and 2020 have been delayed until 2022. Following the recent discoveries by Shell and Total in Namibia, several new exploration projects are expected in 2022, notably in the DRC, Angola, Uganda and Mozambique, although this does not necessarily suggest a shift in sectoral dynamics. The price of crude oil, now close to a record USD 140/barrel, could also revive costly deepwater exploration projects. The context of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and its impact on commodity prices could further contribute to this trend (See our analysis on the topic).