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Africa shows energy promise; Delonex to invest $600 mn

By Hadra Ahmed Delonex Energy, an exploration and production company, will invest $600 million for oil and gas exploration in Ethiopia and other central and east African countries, the Indian chief executive of the company said here.

These regions were selected for investments following the recent discoveries of gas in Mozambique and Tanzania, and of other hydrocarbon findings in Uganda and Kenya.

This follows the company's agreement with Warburg Pincus, a global private equity firm focusing on promising oil and gas assets in sub-Saharan Africa, Delonex announced.

"Africa has a successful track record among similar basins around the world, the planned exploration is expected to be a promising one," said Rahul Dhir, chief executive of Delonex, who was the former CEO of Cairn India.

Delonex says their focus is largely going to be in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Central Africa since the region is still in its early days of exploration. The entire region, from Central Africa, Chad, South Sudan and Ethiopia down to Mozambique has only had about six hundred exploration wells since the early 1900s.

"According to our findings, the number of wells drilled in Ethiopia for oil and gas explorations is particularly minimal

"We believe, with the application of modern, technological and new drilling techniques, the potential can be tested and hopefully there will be significant discoveries to be made," Dhir said.

Currently, the company is systematically building relationships by meeting with different companies and governments across the region.

The Delonex team has been quite successful in conducting drilling operations in various Asian countries, resulting in the first hydrocarbon discoveries in the Mannar Basin in Sri Lanka. It has also unearthed oil and gas in remote onshore and offshore sites in Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.

It has also revealed the full potential of the Barmer basin in India's Rajasthan state, establishing a 1.7 billion barrels oil equivalent recoverable resource base.

"Our success in India has helped reduce the country's oil imports by approximately $14 billion and contributed around $6 billion to the Indian exchequer" Dhir said.

The company has considerable interest in strategic areas like the East African Continental Rift System, which extends from the Red Sea through Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to Mozambique, the Central African Rift System stretching from Chad to South Sudan and the coastal areas of east Africa.

According to Dhir, Delonex Energy plans on gaining access to these areas through "farm-in" acquisition of interest from existing licensees, as well as by direct awards from host governments.

"Having the ability to invest $600 million puts us in a better position and able to compete with other companies in Ethiopia as well as the other African countries with sufficient funds" Dhir added.


Exploitation of ivory
In the second half of the 19th century, the northern border of Central Africa was suddenly opened up to the impact of an intense new trade in ivory. Rapid prosperity in both Europe andNorth America had led to an increase in demand for ivory to make piano keys, billiard balls, knife handles, and ornamental carvings. Traders from Egypt and the oldOttoman Empire of North Africa went across the Sahara and up the Nile to cross into the upper reaches of the Congo basin, where elephants were still plentiful. In so doing, they severely disrupted local societies as they kidnapped local peoples to serve as bearers, servants, and concubines. The victims of the trading and hunting raids not only were used in the heavily armed and fortified ivory camps but also were taken away to be sold as slave girls in the harems of Constantinople or as water carriers in the streets of Cairo. The second mobile frontier to intrude on Central Africa in the 19th century was in the east, and eventually it became as disruptive as the northern incursion. The first immigrants were long-distance traders from the Nyamwezi kingdom founded by Mirambo, who arrived in search of copper. They set up their own trading kingdom under Msiri and

developed a large army of followers equipped with lances and bows. Msiri also trained a military elite of 2,000 men, whom he armed with guns bought on the east coast in exchange for ivory. Msiris kingdom became one of the largest conquest states to be carved out in Central Africa. He adopted the administrative methods of the old Lunda kings, whose provinces he captured and whose governors he reappointed as his own agents and consuls. He also gained control of the old empires eastern slave trade. In this field, however, Msiri had a powerful rival in the Swahili trade community, which had reached Central Africa from Zanzibar. The Swahili traders and their Arab allies were involved with both the slave trade and the ivory trade. Their slaves were put to work on the spice plantations of Zanzibar or sold as pearl divers and domestic servants in the Arabian and Persian gulfs. The ivory went to the United States to buy calico, which was in great demand in the eastern Congo basin. One of the traders took the nickname Americani because his American calico was so famed. An even better-known Swahili merchant prince was Tippu Tib, who became the effective ruler of the Swahili towns on the upper reaches of the Congo River. His methods of trade were brutal. Villagers were forcibly rounded up into camps, often with great loss of lifeas witnessed by Livingstone on his visitand then ransomed by their relatives, who were sent out on hazardous elephant-trapping expeditions. The ivory trade thus disrupted the east as effectively as it disrupted the north. Worse still, the pattern of exploitation was one that was soon adopted by the first Europeans to enter the region. They also used capture and ransom to extract wealth from their victims. The first European ruler of the Congo, the Belgian king Leopold, appointed Tippu Tib his governor and gave him command of the east in recognition of his military and commercial achievements. The great 19th-century scramble for ivory also brought disruption to Central Africa from the south in the years immediately preceding the colonial partition. The agents in the south were Chokwe hunters from Angola (see Southern Africa: The slave and ivory trade). They had been successful collectors of beeswax, and their trade had enabled them to build up armories of guns, which they eventually turned on their neighbours. They penetrated the heartland of the Lunda empire in the 1880s and destroyed the court. Their victims were sold on the Atlantic coast and were the last European-owned slaves on the old plantations of So Tom. Their ivory went to the Portuguese after the crown had abandoned its restrictive monopoly on tusks and allowed private entrepreneurs to benefit from market forces. But when ivory became scarce and slaves were frowned upon, the Chokwe pioneered a new branch of trade that was to bring even greater horrors to the peoples of Central Africa. This was the search for redrubber, the sap of the wild rubber vine that grew throughout the forest and savanna galleries of the Congo basin. As the price of rubber rose with the development of the electrical and motor industries, so the rubber traders penetrated further into the communities of refugees who had sought to escape the disruptions of the last phase of the slave trade. It was the rubber trade that financed the first stage of formal colonial rule in Central Africa.