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Interview: African Energy Chamber Executive Chairman, NJ Ayuk on Transforming Africa’s Energy Sector

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A leading energy lawyer and a strong advocate for African entrepreneurs, NJ Ayuk is recognized as one of the foremost figures in African business today. Founder and CEO of Centurion Law Group, a pan-African law firm and the current chairman of the African Energy Chamber, NJ strives through his work to ensure that business, and especially oil and gas, impacts African societies in a positive way and drives local content development. In this interview with  Alaba Ayinuola, NJ shed light on the continent’s biggest energy challenges, the impact of the African Energy Chamber(AEC) in the continent’s energy, oil and gas sector. And how is AEC is becoming the entry door to Africa’s oil & gas sector. Excerpt.

 

Tell us about the African Energy Chamber and the gap it’s filling.

The African Energy Chamber is based on a network of public and private executives that have been working towards the development of Africa’s oil and gas industry for several years now, mostly focusing on local content development. Seeing the need for Africa to have a stronger voice on the global energy scene and communicate better, we have opened up the organisation to all interested parties two years ago. Since then both the Chamber’s network and its activities have considerable grown. We have welcomed over a 100 new partners, both institutional and corporate from across Africa and have multiplied initiatives, especially when it comes to institutional capacity building, local content development and facilitating foreign investment and advisory.

 

How long as the chamber being in existence and how does  your organisation measure it’s impact?

We work for the interest of African companies and entrepreneurs. Seeing the number of them reaching out to us for support over the past year has been the strongest indicator of our impact and ability to both represent African interests and unite the right network of partners towards common goals. We have increasingly received requests to assist African SMEs and larger oil services companies to expand across sub-Saharan Africa. This is a very good sign for the future growth of the African content: our companies are hungry and want to expand. We are also bringing lots of support to governments and governmental institutions in capacity building, especially within rapidly growing markets like South Sudan.

 

How’s the chamber being perceived both internationally and within the continent?

Internationally, we are mostly perceived as a source of information and an access door to some of Africa’s fastest-growing or most complex markets. The need for on-the-ground information and data on Africa is growing very rapidly and foreign investors are looking for reliable local partners and information providers, especially when it comes to finding their ways around Africa’s many different jurisdictions and ways of doing business.

From within the continent, we are increasingly seen as being a voice and conscience for the sector. We advocate for the issues at heart for African companies, entrepreneurs and people. Our industry needs a strong voice pushing for local content development and domestic capacity building and we are proud to have positioned ourselves as a key advocate in this regard.

 

What in your view is the biggest energy challenge in Africa?

Africa is plagued by many energy challenges, which are all opportunities, from energy affordability to infrastructure and lack of financing. While we address all of those as an institution, we do insist on the challenge of monetising resources, especially gas ones. By flaring gas like we have for decades, we have concretely burned billions of dollars worth of resources that could power our entire continent, hundreds of factories and create millions of jobs. We believe gas is the future of Africa’s energy industry, and creating monetisation opportunities across the board, from petrochemicals to power, from cement to petrochemicals manufacturing units, should be a priority.

 

What is Africa doing right in terms of it’s energy sector?

African nations have taken positive steps in engaging each other and exploring common opportunities. This manifests itself first on the international stage. Equatorial Guinea and Congo Brazzaville joined OPEC in 2017 and 2018, strengthening the African voice within the industry’s most influential organisation. But many other African countries have also joined the Declaration of Cooperation and frequently attend OPEC meetings like South Sudan, Chad, Uganda etc. International engagement from Africa is something that was missing and has been corrected. As a result of that, African governments and companies have also been increasingly talking to each other. Major projects are moving ahead thanks to this dialogue, be it the Tortue field between Senegal and Mauritania, or the recent gas unitisation agreement between Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon.

Also Read Black Space App CEO, April Jefferson on entrepreneurship and connecting black travelers to their culture

What surprises you about this sector and it’s future?

The unexploited potential is massive, and quite frankly overwhelming. In terms of oil & gas exploration, we believe that world-class global discoveries are to be made in the near future. The recent ones in Mozambique and Senegal are just the beginning. Beyond mere exploration, the potential for meeting the continent’s growing energy needs, addressing increasing energy consumption, and providing jobs to millions of young men and women is what will define the future of the sector. This represent billions of dollars at play, both for foreign investors willing to take risks and make lucrative deals, but especially for us Africans if we are able to seize the opportunities offered to us by our land.

 

Do you see the deepen of a private-public partnership drive growth in this sector?

We do not think there has been a serious deepening of private-public partnerships, which remain a major need for the sector. This would require a market-by-market analysis, as in some places the lack of PPPs is a regulatory one, while in others you actually do have successes but in other sectors such as infrastructure. Overall, the need for PPPs in the industry is there, and the power sector offers tremendous opportunities for such projects. However, many regulations need to be revised, public institutions need to adhere to stronger governance standards, and private investors must be made aware of the right opportunities and projects to get involved in.

 

What is your vision and goal for this chamber under your leadership?

The AEC is becoming the entry door to Africa’s oil & gas sector. We are already receiving lots of queries from new investors wishing to enter fast growth markets, and having local representatives on the ground is positioning us as a strong advisor and facilitator for foreign investors, while being able to properly communicate what is happening on the ground to the international energy community. On the second hand, we also want to be building domestic capacity, both by training and skilling Africans so they can take on additional responsibilities across the value chain, but also by bringing in more technology and best practices to our local companies so we contribute to boosting local content.

 

You own Centurion Law Group, tell us about this law firm and how are you managing these two big brands?

Centurion is a pan-African legal and advisory business specialised in oil & gas. We are leaders in frontier jurisdictions like Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan and do not shy away from working in what many wrongly perceive as challenging markets. More importantly, we are a firm who believes in African talent and have dedicated ourselves to train the next generation of African lawyers. It is very upsetting to see the amount of legal work on Africa that goes to London or New York when we have high-quality and highly-trained legal talent present on the continent. As such we are more than offering legal services; we are a law firm with a mission.

 

About NJ Ayuk:

A leading energy lawyer and a strong advocate for African entrepreneurs, NJ Ayuk is recognized as one of the foremost figures in African business today. A Global Shaper with the World Economic Forum, one of Forbes’ Top 10 Most Influential Men in Africa in 2015, and a well-known dealmaker in the petroleum and power sectors, NJ is dedicating his career to helping entrepreneurs find success and to building the careers of young African lawyers. As founder and CEO of Centurion Law Group, a pan-African law firm, NJ strives through his work to ensure that business, and especially oil and gas, impacts African societies in a positive way and drives local content development. He is the current chairman of the African Energy Chamber and author of ‘Big Barrels: African Oil and Gas and the Quest for Prosperity’. His second book, ‘Billions at Play: the Future of African energy’ is due for release at the end of the year.

 

A propos de NJ Ayuk:

NJ est un avocat de premier plan dans le domaine de l’énergie et un ardent défenseur des entrepreneurs africains, reconnu comme l’une des figures les plus en vue des entreprises africaines aujourd’hui. Il est un « Global Shaper » avec le Forum économique mondial, l’un des 10 hommes les plus influents de Forbes en Afrique en 2015, et un négociateur renommé dans les secteurs du pétrole et de l’énergie. Il est fondateur et PDG du Centurion Law Group et président actuel de la Chambre africaine de l’énergie et auteur du best-seller « Big Barrels : pétrole et gaz africains et la quête de la prospérité. » Son second ouvrage, « Des milliards en jeu : le future de l’énergie africaine » sera publie à la fin de l’année.

 

CEO Corner

African Infrastructure Investment Managers appoints Vuyo Ntoi and Sola Lawson as new co-CEOs

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African Infrastructure Investment Managers new co-CEOs, Vuyo Ntoi and Sola Lawson (Source: AIIM Africa)

London and Cape Town, 3 August 2020: African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), a member of Old Mutual Alternative Investments and Africa’s most experienced infrastructure manager, has appointed two joint-managing directors to be based in Cape Town and Lagos, following the retirement of the company’s previous CEO.

Vuyo Ntoi and Sola Lawson, have been appointed from within the business, and will continue to sit in their South Africa and Nigeria offices respectively, as two of AIIM’s key markets in sub-Saharan Africa. As AIIM’s new joint-MD’s, they take over from Jurie Swart, who has been CEO of AIIM since 2014 and recently elected to take early retirement to focus on a new challenge outside the AIIM business.  

Also Read: Lindelwe Lesley Ndlovu, African Risk Capacity (ARC) CEO Shares Goals, Disaster Risk Solutions, COVID-19 and Future

Commenting on the new roles, Paul Boynton, non-executive chairman of the Board at AIIM said: “Vuyo and Sola have both been integral members of the AIIM team for many years and bring with them extensive and varied investment experience and leadership skills. On behalf of the entire Board, I am looking forward to working even closer with them in their new joint-MD roles as the business continues to expand and move forward.”  

Vuyo Ntoi said, “I am very excited to step into this new joint role, continuing to work with Sola and the Exco team to drive the strategy that we have had in place, which has and continues to deliver excellent outcomes for our investors and stakeholders.”

Sola Lawson added, “I am honoured to take on the role of joint-MD of AIIM and look forward to working closely with Vuyo and the wider team to continue to build on the strong foundations developed throughout Jurie’s time as CEO and to help progress AIIM’s strategic journey.”

Vuyo Ntoi has been a member of the senior management team at AIIM for over a decade and is the co-portfolio manager of AIIM’s IDEAS Managed Fund, one of South Africa’s largest domestic infrastructure equity funds. He was also involved in the initial roll out of the business across the continent and has led and participated in high profile and pioneering projects in South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Mali.

Sola Lawson joined AIIM in 2011, founding the Nigeria office, AIIM’s first permanent establishment in Africa outside of South Africa. He has been a member of the senior management team at AIIM since joining and is a member of the IDEAS investment committee. Sola has played a leading role in originating, executing and managing c. USD500 million of AIIM-managed fund investments across Africa, serving on the board of directors of several AIIM portfolio companies within the digital infrastructure, power or renewables and midstream sectors. Prior to joining AIIM, Sola was a member of the infrastructure funds team at Macquarie Group, and prior to that worked at PwC London.

Issued by: AIIM Africa

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Lindelwe Lesley Ndlovu, African Risk Capacity (ARC) CEO Shares Goals, Disaster Risk Solutions, COVID-19 and Future

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Lindelwe Lesley Ndlovu is an executive with extensive international experience in insurance and investment management. He is currently the CEO of the African Risk Capacity “ARC” Ltd. ARC Ltd is a specialist insurance company that provides parametric insurance coverage to African countries against extreme weather events and natural disasters. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, Lesley shares his goals, disaster risk solutions, COVID-19 and the future. Excerpt.

Alaba: Could you briefly tell us about ARC Ltd and the gap its filling in Africa?

Lesley: ARC is a specialist insurance company that was established by the African Union to help African governments improve their capacities to better plan, prepare, and respond to extreme weather events and natural disasters, and adapt to climate change. ARC works through collaboration and innovative finance, to enable countries to strengthen their disaster risk management systems and access rapid and predictable financing when disaster strikes to protect the food security and livelihoods of their vulnerable populations.

From 2014 to 2019, ARC cumulatively provided drought insurance coverage worth US$590 million to insure 59 million vulnerable people in Member States and paid out US$61 million in insurance claims.

Alaba: As its new Chief Executive, what are your set milestone in terms of growth and impact?

Lesley: Our target is to achieve US$100 million in gross written premiums in the next 5 years, providing gross insurance coverage of US$1 billion. This level of scale will allow us to reach 150 million people in Africa and more effectively use insurance to protect people against food insecurity brought about by natural disasters such as droughts and floods, the frequency and severity of natural disasters is increasing as a result of climate change.

Alaba: Establishing a risk pooling insurer is clearly a difficult task. What can other Regions learn from the ARC concept?

Lesley: The idea of sovereign risk pooling is catching on globally, the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility was the first pool set up in 2007 after the devastating hurricanes suffered by the Caribbean countries. ARC Ltd was set up in 2014, subsequently other risk pools have been set up for the Pacific Island nations, the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative and SEADRIF in South East Asia.

The success of the risk pools depends a great deal on political support by the member countries and a clearly demonstrable value for all the pool members.

Alaba: What are the benefits of your products for vulnerable member sovereign?

Lesley: The main benefit of working with ARC Ltd, is that we are owned by the African countries and therefore exist to cater to their unique needs. We are able to build customized insurance solutions for each country. Our parametric insurance product pays claims very quickly, typically within 10 days of the insured event, giving governments timely funding to start the relief and recovery efforts. Furthermore, ARC Ltd has an Agency arm which provides capacity building for countries to help them understand the risks that they face and development mitigation strategies.

Alaba: Could you discuss more on The Extreme Climate Facility (XCF) initiative?

Lesley: The XCF is an exciting and very innovative concept. The main objective of the Extreme Climate Facility (XCF) is to reduce vulnerability to extreme events by providing enabling conditions for increased adaptation investment and improved risk transfer. The XCF structure combines a green bond and a catastrophe bond, issued centrally on behalf of member states can address critical barriers to adaptation investment and increase post-disaster funding.

Alaba: How is the current global pandemic affecting ARC? Are you Post COVID-19 prepared?

Lesley: Financially, the COVID induced volatility in the financial markets reduced the market value of our investment portfolio. However, our investment portfolio is made up of high quality, investment grade bonds which we fully expect will pay at par, the default risk remains extremely low.

From a business perspective, our sovereign clients had to respond to COVID 19 and this put a tremendous strain on their finances and in some instances, negatively impacted their ability to pay insurance premiums. Furthermore, due to the lockdown restrictions it was challenging to sustain ongoing interactions with the governments. However, the ability to work remotely has improved over time and the lockdown restrictions are slowly being eased.

All the teams within ARC Ltd have been able to adapt to working remotely and there has been minimal disruption to our activities.

ARC will be launching an insurance product covering Outbreaks and Epidemics, the insurance payouts will provide the funding required for an early and effective government response.

Alaba: How does the use of technology provide opportunities in the fact of natural disaster?

Lesley: Insurance is a data driven industry, data enables us to understand and calibrate risks, to develop appropriate mitigation measures. In parametric insurance we rely on satellites for rainfall data and we use technology to model and predict losses that arise from weather events. This data can be used to anticipate disasters and take timely action to prevent them or reduce their severity.

Alaba: What is the future for ARC in terms of its size, products and impact?

Lesley: ARC Ltd is currently diversifying its product range to include coverage against floods, tropical cyclones and outbreaks & epidemics. We already have a very successful drought insurance product which has been the mainstay of the company. The new products are essential to more holistically meet the needs of our clients and to ensure diversification on our balance sheet. These additional products will allow us to reach our ambition of US$100 million in gross revenues while ensuring that we are more relevant and credible in meeting the needs of our clients.

Alaba: As an industry leader, how can Africa better develop and position its insurance market?

Lesley: Insurance penetration, which is the ratio of insurance premiums to GDP remains rather low in Africa at 1 to 3% compared to over 10% in most developed markets. This low penetration is linked to limited knowledge of insurance as a risk management tool, lack of trust of insurance companies and products that are too complex and do not fully meet the needs and expectations of customers. The insurance industry plays an importance role in the economy by making households more resilient to shocks and giving entrepreneurs’ confidence to launch new ventures, in addition insurance companies are long term investors in the financial markets.

To grow the insurance industry, governments need to create an enabling regime through risk based supervision of insurance companies and the insurance industry needs to develop appropriate and relevant products and build distribution systems that make it easier and more cost effective to reach customers.

Alaba: How do you relax outside work? Tell us one of your favourite destinations in Africa? Why?

Lesley: I am an avid long distance runner, I run about 80 to 100km every week. Running clears my mind and makes me sharper and more focused. My favorite destination is Diani Beach in Kenya; it has dreamy unspoilt white sand beaches that stretch out as far as the eye can see.

Lindelwe Lesley Ndlovu

B I O G R A P H Y

Lindelwe Lesley Ndlovu

Lindelwe Lesley Ndlovu is an executive with extensive international experience in insurance and investment management. He is currently the CEO of the African Risk Capacity “ARC” Ltd. ARC Ltd is a specialist insurance company that provides parametric insurance coverage to African countries against extreme weather events and natural disasters.

Lesley spent close to a decade in various senior management roles in insurance and asset management with the AXA Group in London, Paris and Singapore, including as CEO of a Lloyd’s of London insurance syndicate, Head of Corporate Development for AXA Global Asset Management and Chief Investment Officer for AXA Singapore.

Prior to joining the AXA Group, he was Vice President, Investments at AXIS Capital in Bermuda, as part of an institutional investment team managing US$15 billion in a global multi-asset investment portfolio. He began his professional career with Deloitte, where he had various assignments in corporate finance, audit, tax advisory. He currently serves as a Non-Executive Director for various financial services companies around the world.

Lindelwe Lesley Ndlovu is a graduate of Christ Church, University of Oxford in England and at the Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires (INSEAD) in France. He is a CFA charter holder, a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England & Wales and a member of the Institute of Directors.

Also Read: Interview with Monica Sekhmet Grant, President of Young Boss Media Inc.

Visit: African Risk Capacity

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CEO Corner

Dr. Olutoyin Oyelade: Casa Foundation, Career and Impact (Biography)

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Dr. Olutoyin Oyelade has garnered 27 years cognate experience from vertical industry including banking, finance, real estate investments, and non-profit sector management. Olutoyin started her banking career in 1992 as a management trainee in Nigeria; and rose to become the Vice President of Treasury and Group Executive, Investment Banking in 2007.

Following her relocation to Canada, she consulted with like-minded professionals in her community with an aim to identify the gaps in social-economic development and how these gaps could be bridged to promote development. Her goal was to deepen economic prosperity of start-ups and African diasporas businesses to impact the Community. The result of this community-wide engagement in 2011 led to the creation CasaFoundation for International Development.

That same year, Olutoyin started Friends of Africa (FOA) Economic Forum as a platform to fasttrack business and economic growth of Africa. ubsequently, CasaFoundation launched AfroInvestors (Investors Magazine on Africa), Exchange (Founders’ forum), and Women-Inspire, (celebrating Businesswomen). CasaFoundation has shaped the conversation around the African-rising narrative and how the diasporas can facilitate economic prosperity of the World.

Education

Olutoyin’s educational background influenced some of the steps she took towards her educational development. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Ondo State University, Nigeria in 1989. In 1999, she received an MBA from Nigeria’s premier University, Obafemi Awolowo University (formerly University of Ife), and later enrolled for executive management programs to hone her leadership and management skills. She completed the senior management program at Lagos Business School in 2005.

In 2006, Olutoyin completed the Business marketing program at IMD, Lausanne, Geneva, and by 2009, she had graduated from Wharton School’s advanced management program. In 2012, Olutoyin embarked on another journey of self- discovery by starting a Doctoral program. She completed the program within 3 years and graduated in May 2016 with a Doctor of Management (in Leadership) from University of Maryland USA (Global Campus).

Business and Social Enterprise

In 2013 Olutoyin started InVcap Corporation, an investment Advisory firm, that consults for potential Investors in Africa. Through InVcap and FOA, Olutoyin has rallied Leaders from Africa and other Continents, representing vertical sectors, to FOA Round table sessions, where they re-think and reshape their mindsets about the necessary solutions that could transform Africa and its people. FOA engages with Canadian and Diaspora businesses, with an aim to maximize opportunities for the social and economic wellbeing of the citizenry.

Dr. Olutoyin Oyelade speaking at IWD Forum (Source: CasaFoundation )

Several start-ups, technical partnerships, and investment groups have emerged from the FOA initiative, they are available for consulting in Canada, to advance development, and to offer technical partnerships in Africa, and ultimately to strengthen Diaspora groups to contribute to the economic development of Canada and Africa. Casa Foundation programs, such as FOA-Economic Forum, Women inspire, and the EXChange for Entrepreneurs, are funded with the support of members, board, and sponsorship of likeminded institutions, including Banks.

Dr. Olutoyin Oyelade speaking at Women Inspire event (Source: CasaFoundation )

As part of its three-fold agenda to advance youth, women, and infrastructure development, in 2015, Olutoyin initiated the CasaFoundation International business scholarship program. CasaFoundation board embraced the scholarship initiative. CasaFoundation has since joined the hall of Sponsors at Centennial College by Sponsoring its International Students program.

By 2015, following a very successful FOA Summit, Olutoyin created a team to review the findings at the summit that Casa youths preferred a platform where they could effectively engage on small businesses, partnership opportunities, and sales- Entrepreneurs Exchange resulted from this initiative.

Olutoyin has continued to impact the lives of Youths and students through the Entrepreneurs’ Exchange platform that addresses their needs. The Exchange is a quarterly workshop session with speakers drawn from Fortune 500 and Top Companies to support the vision of young Innovators. The Exchange aimsto train 1000 youths by October 2020. At an average participation of 49 delegates per quarter, the Exchange program has now trained over 930 youths at Entrepreneurspoint.com incubator.

Dr Olutoyin with Min. Maryam Monsef (Source: CasaFoundation)

Olutoyin started Entrepreneurs point (EP) operations in 2018, to advance, empower, and develop Entrepreneurs by adopting a trifold approach of: mentorship, sponsorship, and partnerships. EP operates as a business incubator for Innovators, start-ups, and youths. EP incubates aspiring entrepreneurs and offers them paid shared-office space, business shadowing, mentorship, and fast-track innovation and creativity of groups.

Philanthropy and Community Engagement

Olutoyin executes all her philanthropic works through her NGO- Casa Foundation. Her Mother and Child program supports Mothers and children aged 0-5 in Africa. Olutoyin continues to serve as consultant and advisor to entrepreneurs, youths, and women in the Canadian Small Business sector. She is opportuned to speak at many Conferences in Toronto, Including Invest in Africa, TEDx, Canadian African Professionals Forum, Friends of Africa, and more to Canadians on Investment opportunities and location in the emerging markets.

She serves as an Advisor to the African Expert Network, a Washington-based Investment Advisory Group, and was recently appointed to the COVID-19 Resource Mobilisation Committee for Ekiti-State, Nigeria. In the Academia, she speaks and teaches entrepreneurship at Colleges including Humber, Ryerson, York Entrepreneurship. She serves on the Boards and Councils of Social Impact organizations across North America including: Casa Foundation, Light House, Friends of Africa, Entrepreneurspoint.com

Dr. Olutoyin Oyelade at a TEDx event (Source: CasaFoundation)

Moreover, she has taught entrepreneurship programs at Women Entrepreneurship Hub program at Ryerson University, Women in Business, New-Comer programs, and regularly speaks on these topics to diverse communities including, TEDx Talks, She Leads Africa, and Voice America. She is regularly featured as an Advisor and Speaks at Women and Youth Conferences. Her groups and members continue to enjoy the benefits of her networks and leverage these various platforms maximally to improve entrepreneurship, innovation, business, women advancement, and economic development.

Commendations, Awards, and Recognitions

Dr. Olutoyin is the recipient of many awards. From her years in banking to date, she continues to raise the bar. She was Merit Award Winner and CEO Excellence Award Winner at the Nigerian Intercontinental Merchant Bank, and  at Intercontinental Banking group, she won many Awards for  Fundraising and management.

In Canada, she has received many recognitions and awards  including a commendation from the Government of Ontario for Creating Friends of Africa Summit, the Diasporan Achiever Award-by Diasporan magazine of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Courage Awards by Women of Courage-Canada; African Impact Leadership Award at the African Women Forum, by Amazon NewYork, Induction into Global Leaders Forum, by Women of Influence , Canada, SuperWomen Achievers Awards in Canada, amongst others (read more on Dr. Olutoyin Oyelade)

Also read: Meseret Haileyesus – The Ethiopian Canadian Women Leader Creating Impact

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