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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.

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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

Christa Sanders Bobtoya: The Woman Advancing International Education in Africa

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Christa Sanders Bobtoya has been involved in the field of international education for the last two decades. She has lived in Accra, Ghana since 2004 and is currently the Director/Head of Webster University’s Ghana Campus, the only American university in the sub-region offering US-accredited graduate and undergraduate degrees. Sanders Bobtoya spent her first decade in Ghana as the Associate Director of New York University’s (NYU) 6th global site and the university’s first study abroad program on the African continent.  As the head of Webster Ghana, she works daily to fulfill the University’s mission of providing high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence. 

“I have always been passionate about education, international travel and intercultural experiences.  In my role of Director of Webster University Ghana Campus, I am able to fuse together all of my passions where I work daily to fulfill the University’s mission of providing high quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence,” says Sanders Bobtoya who is committed to promoting international educational opportunities to students worldwide and has worked and studied in Spain, Germany, Ethiopia, Ghana, Brazil and the United States. 

Sanders Bobtoya has traveled extensively across 5 continents, spanning 85 countries dedicating much of her career to the field of higher education and managing study abroad programs as well as international branch campuses of US institutions both in Europe and Africa. 

Previous experiences have included a role as a Program Officer for the Institute of International Education (IIE) in New York where she managed a range of scholarship programs for both Latin American and African students through the Institute’s Scholarship and Training Programs (STP) division and as the Chief Counselor of Students for Syracuse University in Madrid, Spain where she also co-founded a support organization, Voices of Change, to help students of color cope with discrimination outside of the United States.  Additionally,  Sanders Bobtoya has provided cross-cultural counseling services in Berlin, Germany and developed short-term, faculty-led study abroad programs to both Eastern and Western Africa for Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia, and has consulted a number of educational institutions focused on international educational initiatives such as Stanford University, Dartmouth College and the Council of International Education (CIEE), the world’s largest international educational exchange organizations.
 

Currently, in the role of Director/Head of Webster University’s Ghana Campus; the only American university in the sub-region offering US-accredited graduate and undergraduate degrees, Sanders Bobtoya works daily to fulfill the University’s mission of providing high quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.

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“Under my leadership at Webster University Ghana, students are exposed to new ways of thinking and benefit from the cultural diversity and enriching academic environment that strengthens their critical-thinking skills. Since opening our doors in 2014, we have enrolled both undergraduate and graduate students from over 25 different countries, spanning four continents including many from Africa and its Diaspora who later join Webster’s elite network of over 157,000 alumni worldwide,” adds Christa Sanders-Bobtoya who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia where she graduated summa cum laude before completing her Ed.M and M.A. degrees in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in cross-cultural studies/multiculturalism from Columbia University in New York.

Learn More about Webster University Ghana at the Online Open House 

http://www.webster.edu.gh/

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CEO Corner

Hussein Fakhry, MD of Key Architectural Group Nominated for The 2020 Ghana Industry CEO Awards

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Hussein Fakhry, the Co-Founder, Managing Director and Lead Architect at KEY
Architectural Group has been identified as one of the most outstanding chief executives in
corporate Ghana by Ghana Industry CEO Awards.

Hussein’s astute leadership at Key Architectural Group led to the nomination of Top CEO in the
Construction (Building) category. KEY Architectural Group has offices in Accra, Ghana, Abidjan, Ivory Coast and Beirut, Lebanon.

The 2020 Ghana Industry CEOs Awards is an annual awards scheme aimed at identifying and
publicly recognizing the most outstanding Chief Executives in corporate Ghana across a wide
range of sectors.

Backed with a Master’s in Business Administration and over 24 years of experience in the Design and Construction Field, the architect by profession and passion has been behind landmark residential, commercial, touristic, and industrial projects in West Africa and Lebanon.

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Hussein Fakhry designs are inspired by nature, sustainability and contextual architecture.

To vote, kindly visit: Ghana Industry CEO Awards

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CEO Corner

aYo Holdings appoints Marius Botha as Group CEO

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Marius Botha

African micro-insurance fintech business aYo Holdings, a joint venture between telecommunication giant MTN and traditional insurer Momentum Metropolitan Holdings (MMH), has appointed Marius Botha as its new group chief executive officer (CEO).

Botha was formerly CEO of life insurer Stangen for nearly seven years, having previously held executive positions at African Bank and Munich Re.

aYo Holdings offers accidental hospital cover and life cover in Zambia, Uganda and Ghana with additional African countries launching in the very near future.

Botha holds an honours degree in actuarial science and an M.Phil in Futures Studies.

Issued: ByDesign Communication

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