NJ Ayuk’s Interview, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber

NJ Ayuk’s Interview, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber

The African Energy Chamber will host the French leg of its European investment tour, the Invest in African Energy Forum, in Paris on June 1, 2023. Ahead of the Forum, NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, shares his vision of the energy challenges facing Africa and his expectations of the Invest in African Energy Forum in Paris. 

What are the most pressing and significant energy-related challenges currently faced by Africa?

The primary energy issues Africa currently faces are energy security and lack of investment. While the continent has some of the highest deposits of energy resources in the world – current estimates show over 620 trillion cubic feet of gas, 125.3 billion barrels of crude oil, nearly 16.4 billion short tons of coal and immense renewable energy potential – Africa has the world’s highest energy poverty rate with over 600 million people living without access to electricity and 900 million people without access to clean cooking solutions.

On the power side, energy access issues continue to disrupt business, employment and economic growth. South Africa, for instance, has lost over 650,000 jobs in 2022 alone and is recording R300 million in loss to the economy per day due to the instability of the country’s grid network.

On the fuel side, inadequate supply restricts industrialization while energy prices across the continent remain expensive due to the overreliance on energy imports from international markets. The irony is that the continent’s resources are extracted, exported and then imported after being refined internationally. These issues can all be addressed through investment.

Historically, unfavorable investment climates across the continent have delayed foreign investment, however, this trend has been reversed with Government’s prioritizing regulatory overhauls. Now, the continent’s business environment is more attractive than ever, laying the foundation for foreign capital to flow. Now, Africa needs to drill more oil and gas wells while expanding refining capacity and distribution systems to address security, access and affordability issues. The pace at which large-scale upstream, midstream and downstream oil and gas projects are developed needs to be accelerated. Private sector participation remains crucial to move projects forward.

What are the African Energy Chamber’s Priorities currently?

The Chamber, serving as the voice of the African energy sector, is dedicated to facilitating investment across the entire African energy value chain, with priority placed on funding large-scale oil and gas projects. Africa needs all of its energy resources to address energy poverty, fuel economic growth and accelerate industrialization. Investments within the oil and gas industry have dwindled due to global energy transition-related policies and our priority is to help connect African policymakers and energy companies with global investors so that delayed hydrocarbon projects get off the ground. We believe that free markets are vital for Africa to accelerate industry growth, hence our focus remains to unite private sector companies and investors with public sector project developers and energy regulators. While the energy transition remains a global priority, our priority remains on ensuring that Africa drives a just and inclusive energy transition: one that prioritizes energy security and a diverse energy mix.

What are you expecting from the upcoming Invest in African Energy Forum in Paris?

Over 500 top energy executives from the African and European energy landscapes will gather at the Westin Paris Vendome on June 1 to discuss investment and partnership opportunities within Africa’s burgeoning energy industry. African energy and petroleum ministers from Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Namibia, the Republic of Congo, Senegal and more are participating alongside global energy companies to the likes of Perenco, TotalEnergies, Technip Energies, Oando Petroleum, HyDeal, Crystol Energy, Egypt Oil & Gas and many more. In addition to a series of market-focused panel discussions and presentations that showcase the numerous investment prospects across the African continent, the Forum provides the best opportunities for networking and engagement, with a series of deal signings expected which will advance the flow of investments in Africa’s energy sector.  Serving as a form of prelude to this year’s African Energy Week conference and exhibition – scheduled for October 16 – 20 in Cape Town – the Invest in African Energy Forum in Paris will unlock a new era of cooperation between Africa, France and Europe.

For further information on the Invest in African Energy Forum : https://energychamber.org/le-forum-invest-in-african-energy-paris-de-laec-aura-lieu-le-1er-juin/