ENB #183 Elevating Humanity: A Conversation on Ending Energy Poverty with NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber

Energy poverty is real. But it can be cured. Sit back and enjoy a conversation with one of the world’s leading experts in ending energy poverty. NJ Ayuk is the executive chairman of the African Energy Chamber, and he is a phenomenal author and industry-leading expert on a mission to eliminate energy poverty.

I had an absolute blast, and Cyrus Brooks, RBAC, was on the panel. His passion and energy experience is phenomenal. NJ, Cyrus, and I covered the key issues in Africa but only scratched the surface of some of the solutions.

The West has not always had Africa’s best interest at heart, and it is time for Africa to put Africa first. If done correctly, the West could have great new markets for goods and services. Africa could get the manufacturing and technical knowledge transfer while shipping completed goods rather than just raw materials.

Check out NJ’s book A Just Transition: Making Energy Poverty History with an Energy Mix. It is a fantastic book about his mission leading the African Energy Chamber.

Thank you, NJ and Cyrus, for your time and industry leadership. I am looking forward to our future conversations about the problems and solutions of ending energy poverty.

Follow and connect with NJ on his LinkedIn HERE: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nj-ayuk-jd-mba-6658662/

Follow up with Cyrus on his LinkedIn HERE: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cyrus-brooks-03274713/

Energy News Beat Podcasts: https://energynewsbeat.co/industry-insights-2/

Highlights of the Podcast

02:25 – The whole idea behind the energy industry

04:07 – Energy poverty

08:02 – The geopolitical problems with the Red Sea

08:27 – The love for free markets

12:09 – African oil and gas producers should seek to maximize their own capacities

13:06 – Where they refine their crude oil

14:22 – The power of natural gas

20:53 – One of the biggest acquisitions that happened in


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NJ and Cyrus Conversations in Energy – Final Cut.mp4

Stuart Turley [00:00:08] Hello, everybody. Energy poverty is real. But it can be cured. Sit back and enjoy a conversation with one of the world’s leading experts in ending energy poverty. NJ Ayuk is the executive chairman of the African Energy Chamber, and he is a phenomenal author and industry leading expert. Cyrus Brooks from Rbac and I have an absolutely wonderful discussion about how to elevate humanity out of energy poverty. He is a fantastic individual, and I can’t wait for you guys to hear this. And this is the start of a series that we’re going to be rolling out, helping articulate what is needed to solve energy poverty. Thank you all. Buckle up and enjoy the show. NJ and Cyrus, thank you for stopping by the podcast and we are going to have a great discussion. This is about an energy transition then the right way. And NJ you are an incredible world leader in the energy in ending energy poverty. I am so grateful for you to stop by this podcast. Thank you for your time.

NJ Ayuk [00:01:29] Thank you so much for having me. So it’s such an honor.

Stuart Turley [00:01:32] And Cyrus, thank you for putting this together. And, you know, I’m a stocker of both of you guys. I, I just enjoy your work. I’ve got your other book here. We’ve got two books. All of that are going to be in the show notes, and you guys are out leading the charge on telling the world about the energy transition. And, Cyrus, you had reached out with some questions, with to NJ and the African Chamber. What were some of your thoughts on that?

Cyrus Brooks [00:02:06] Well, you know, MJ is the first guy that I really knew that was really telling the story about, energy poverty. And, look, actually, it’s really important point. Energy comes from the word, from the Greek word energy, means activity. Right. So the whole idea behind the energy industry is to enable activity. Now, personally, everywhere I’ve looked, it doesn’t matter whether it’s Africa or the United States, you know, any urban area, any depressed, economically depressed area that the number one thing they want is actually a better standard of living a better life. So, the first time I encountered NJ, I really started I saw that, I saw that for Africa, and I first came here to South Africa in 2016. You know, I’ve been here, three times. This is my third time, and I’ve been here for three months. I’m going to stay here for a while. And I can really see, you know, everywhere. The regular guy, you know, the business man, you know, at all levels. They actually do want, a better life. That’s the most important thing. Especially when you don’t have or when you really have minimal, like, just you’re just barely surviving. That is the number one thing on your mind. And so I really wanted to connect with, with MJ because he’s been, what I saw was the most powerful voice, for, you know, alleviating for poverty and also for particularly energy poverty, which is an important thing if you’re going to enable the activity, which is going to enable the economic and economic development.

NJ Ayuk [00:03:53] Thank you, thank you.

Stuart Turley [00:03:55] Oh. oh. What prompted NJ what you just said you were talking to OPEC today. You just said that you had these other meetings. But what started you on your mission years ago? Because energy poverty needs to change. What started you on this journey?

NJ Ayuk [00:04:13] I tell you this, I was a guy who nobody would believe it. After law school, I used to work for United Nations. I walked with a lot of very good people. But I realized one thing no matter the problems we have across Africa, it was all about energy. When there is no energy but you cannot face decision, you can’t solve issues like gender based violence, female genital mutilation because you got these young girls living in the dark, but also as a kid who grew up in Cameroon in very poor circumstances, education got me out of poverty because my parents were very lucky to work in a mission school that had lights, but everybody around us that was smart, brighter than me. They didn’t have lights because the church provided us lights. So guess what? They got stuck. They never had a chance. So I took the mission. Faith. And you got all the best country in the world. America gave me a chance to have a better life and a great education. And what if I don’t use all this knowledge and everything that America gave me to reach back to those who need? But in some areas left and those that have been left on the roadside and it became about energy. If I don’t do that, and I only think about getting that next office on the 20th, on the sixth floor or the 20th floor, then that is my teen ambition, then we’re not living to that thing that I learned out of United States, E pluribus unum. Out of many, we become one, and we can only become one when we have energy. And to look at 600 million people in Africa without access to electricity, 900 million without access to clean cooking technologies, most of them women aren’t going to turn around. Are you? Watch rich people, wealthy people that have benefited from natural resources oil, natural gas, coal and you. That has really been beautiful. Beautiful us improve human civilization driven human flourishing. Make your Western countries the envy of the world. We democracy with rule of law, good governance. Why did I do that to the poor, most vulnerable people coming out of Africa? I thought that is unjust and we need to be a voice of reason for them and let them make their choices, let them use their natural resources to improve their communities. That’s that’s that became the walk of my life.

Stuart Turley [00:06:45] How cool. You know, and I you’re standing up for Africa first. And that to me is the way it should be. And I love the way that we’re describing this and that. Cyrus, you just brought up that point as well. And that is we have got to not only let’s let what. I’m sorry I get excited about this. Discussion, and I am a little irritated because the West comes in and says, we want all your natural resources, but we don’t want to leave you jobs. We don’t want to have the the technology knowledge transfer. I’m sorry. I’m let’s get Africa first. Let’s let you know. Help you with all of the tech. I think that Cyrus, you talked about this before. We could make a better life for everybody if we had Africa first train, everybody, put their permanent infrastructure in and then charge export fees. Why don’t we have LNG factories? Coming out of, I believe one just, came on line on East Africa, West Africa, and now it’s going to be able to start coming in because we have the geopolitical problems with the Red sea. Everybody’s having to come around the Cape. Anyway. Let’s go ahead and just start exporting LNG and make money permanently for Africa.

NJ Ayuk [00:08:16] I agree with that. I think I met Stuart. Let’s let’s look at it. I’m a free market guy. Okay. If there’s one thing America teaches you, it’s free markets. And the love for free markets, limited government and low taxes made that country the greatest economy in the world. Look at this continent. 1.4 billion people. By 2045, it’ll be 2 billion people. Imagine you have you are getting LNG into 2 billion people. That is energy growth, getting industrialization that can be your biggest consumers. That’s why I’m making haste yet. Our partnership like I always see Africa and America. It’s kind of like peanut butter and jelly. They get along well because that partnership between Africans, Americans and Western civilization. It drives us to live up to those true Madison, you know, Jeffersonian values that we value the most. If we shift that and don’t understand markets that that series, that America, hundred and 50 million people, but it has the number one economy and it can be China with 1.5 billion people then used to, you know, move African countries towards China. And that’s not the benchmark. If you want to have a just energy transition and that track record when it comes to US growth investing in Africa, it’s not there. But then we can go on a super drive. We look at Mozambique. That could go from zero to the third largest producer of energy. So we know relied on some on Qatar or Russia. We use African gas to power Europe at the same time powering Africa. Build pad camps, use American storage facilities, use American technology to drive it, but educate people because you know what? When you educate these people, what happens? They are not busy trying to cross the Mediterranean or try to fly out to go to Mexico, to cross borders. They can feel right at home. And we’re not against renewables. They what we against is that we see wealthy nations saying, we could take your minerals, we could take your bauxite on your lithium and your platinum and your critical minerals processing outside and say you to free each product. We’re saying build that supply chain right here in Africa. Give these young people a fighting chance to create jobs and opportunities at home. And there is already a market here. So you’re moving. You’d finance and technology, create a supply chain, build an infrastructure base, and everybody makes money, but you do what you do best techno orgy and everything. You are still thriving and you have a more balanced system. But Africans also have a role to play. They need to create an enabling environment. And I think we have been very, very, I wouldn’t say credit card, but very forceful in pushing Africans to see that you can open up your systems, because when you open up your system, like you look at Singapore, you look at Guyana, you look you look at what some American states that open up their systems. They saw investments coming into those states. And that is what you want to go. Money doesn’t have. And business people are like predators to go where they see benefit. And money is not an emotional issue. It goes where it is. Welcome capital wants to be welcome.

Cyrus Brooks [00:11:38] Wow. In. You know, MJ, you said something really, great. Which was, inspired me to ask you more, just recently, and talking about that that are, you know, that that building that, that value add, you know, I mean, you don’t want to just want, you know, the raw bauxite exported because, you know, that’s a very, you know, low level, product, and, you know, so, so you want some, value out. You said you said African oil and gas producers should seek to maximize their own capacities as they develop their own subsurface resources. The development process should focus on training for local workers, technology transfers and investment in related sectors of the economy, including those that can add value to the natural resources themselves, such as refining and better chemicals. That was in a post you recently mentioned. I, I really liked and I wanted to know, what is what is the scene and where is it happening and what what do you see as, what would help it to happen better?

NJ Ayuk [00:12:55] Okay, let me answer that with two great examples Nigeria and Angola. Some of the the largest producers in sub-Saharan Africa. Do you know where they refine their crude oil, the crude oil? It’s been refined in the Netherlands. So they put up a crude oil selling to the Netherlands. Is refined in refineries in Europe and sent back to Africa. And so every day Africans are paying a huge price at the pump. And, you know, for example, being American, when the price of the palm is too high, like you have right now, you lose in that election. So what happens in Africa? Everyday people are losing their elections for the struggle, for life because of the price at the pump is too high. Second example you see seeing right now most Africans don’t know where Ukraine or Russia is, but they are praying the price for Ukraine and Russia fighting each other. You know why? Because a lot of the wheat and grain and rice that Africans purchase came from, that’s from that Black Sea and from Ukraine and Russia. So guess what? Your question you gotta ask yourself is. What did Russia do as a country to become a superpower in developing in wheat, grain and agricultural products? It’s because after the Cold War ended, they imported 80% into Russia. They turn that around by using natural gas. This is the power of natural gas. They use that natural gas. They process natural gas. There are pet cams, a lot of it with American money that was had a lot of goodwill for Russia right after the end of the Cold War. You process natural gas, you build urea, ammonia, NPK fertilizer plant, and those are key products to drive up agriculture. Now turn around to Africa. Vast land. Vast land. In this continent, you take out natural gas. Very small stuff. One key to one kV of natural gas. You can turn building huge petrochemical or plants. And then you power agriculture. Then you, you you you you drive up production of food. So we don’t have to beg for food. What happens when you have that? You create jobs, you feed people. You’re not begging for aid and breeding for that benevolence, that believe that benevolence to come from outside and say, oh, we need a white knight or a white savior to save people. People can then do for themselves what expect others to do for them. It makes families better personal responsibility. It shoots up, but then you turn around, gets better. Some good news. And then Coty, one of your richest people in the continent, has built the world’s largest single train. And refining for refining and refinery train in Nigeria, producing 650,000 barrels. That is good. I like that you know why you had Western capital coming out of Blackrock, coming out of massive Western institution back in in Africa interpreting. And we know this scene. And they went out there and it’s something has been done nowhere else there in Africa. We going to see a lot of that. And we need to encourage that and we not that. But also when we see that kind of success, what do you do? Embrace the American way. We encourage success, not just success. Promote it. Celebrate because it can be infectious. He helps others to come. But then education, we need to focus on that. Basically, Namibia has just discovered huge things being done by TotalEnergies and shell and now God. And you seen that around Mozambique, South Africa. We need to go on a robust education. But finally we need to also be bold to stand up against this aid mentality that says that you put a continent of welfare and says, we going to give you a don’t develop your your infrastructure, don’t develop your things because that’s going to help you. You’re putting a burden on American taxpayers because it’s spending too much of their money trying to give it to aid organizations that are wasting, that let people empower themselves, let them deal with what has to be done. They can do for themselves what they benevolent liberal coming out of America, things he can do it with his NGO money. It does not have the $800 billion of American money spent in Africa over the last 40 years in aid. Where are the results? Anxious states. If you keep doing the same thing over and over and expect and you don’t get different results, he calls insanity, which you should be questioning the taxpayers of this insanity with their aid that has been going in it, dumping peat. That aid has been bad for Africa. We cut out that aid and empower people with the right kind of investments and technologies. Then you see we unleash the true potential of this continent.

Stuart Turley [00:17:57] I’m sorry, I’m voting for you right now. I think you need be like you need to be the world’s czar right now. Man, this is cool. I’m sorry. I’m like, this is exactly what needs to have. I’m sorry.

Cyrus Brooks [00:18:10] I mean, NJ is so right. I mean, and you also have to, you know, one thing I. I’ve been around. I’ve been around Asia. I’ve been around, you know, Africa. And. And then I think the one thing that, you know, the famous do gooder it has as a big fault is that he doesn’t see the inherent potential of every single human being. And, you know, if you have any idea that the person, because of the color of their skin is it does not, is not able to make it, then then that is is more racist than any any bad word, any action you can take to you know, and and if you act that way and if you use government act that way, it’s absolutely a suppressive, oppressive thing that you could do on a person. So, you know, I, I, I would like to see, what do you think is the biggest potential for, for Africans? Where are they living? Where are they? Like, are they are we’re training them. Are they are they willing as petroleum engineers? You know, I mean, I, I’m meeting some of those I have met some of those in Texas, you know, they find themselves in, in Texas, not surprisingly, but but where are Africans doing? Well, where are they? Where is the education or the training? So far, where are they winning?

NJ Ayuk [00:19:32] Yes, yes, where they’re winning. You standing with one right here. It was an old Texan, sitting in the other, Stu I don’t know if you remember him. Big old guy called Gene Van Dyke. Gene Van Dyke created Vanco. He was a wildcat explorer park. And he hired me, trained me to. I was just a little country lawyer, and he got me knowing what size me on 3D and all of that stuff in. And I’m right back in Africa and I’m doing well, I. Where do I tell you? There’s a lot of Africans that came out of Exxon and Hess and Maritain and Occidental and many of the American companies that train them. They are doing well, not just in oil and gas services. They are doing well in, you know, in government because they came out of these American companies with something that is not found from most places, work ethic, it give them the work ethic that for am in the if I am the morning work ethic and it sense to say it didn’t matter where you came from, it didn’t matter what community you are, you can still go out there and just be the best because yes, yes, this went in there working with American companies, getting American training, this all rock to resistance, stories. So guess what this year about last week, one of the biggest acquisitions that happened in and in the African continent, buying out a big I will see it became a very American deal. Six African small companies that were just marginal producers got together in the old way or worked with the Americans who would mergers, acquisition, got together, walked up to shell and bought out shows, activity, some of the activities $1.5 billion. That’s that’s where the winning where the winning is. Small African companies taking on two onshore African gas projects and developing debt and providing gas. And the you look at what do you see with Ed two energies where they’re willing to work, where they’re winning is African companies now working with American companies tried in August to to do fracking in sub-Saharan Africa the first time and everything this way. Young African kids, there were just Johnny man and Wildcat walking around Oklahoma. Louisiana did took underscores, just technologies and the broader idea they’re going to take a feel from. They’re going to get field that’s producing less than a thousand to potentially 1000 within the next five years, where they’re winning some of the training schools that are being done today, tough guys who had work for Halliburton, Baker Hughes, they are building some of the best training and development facilities and running them in Senegal, Mauritania that today they are working on training two on hydrogen technologies around oil production and gas production. There are a lot of success stories, but we don’t talk about that, and I intend to make that part of our discussion this year, because you need to look up to people who have been successful in your neighborhood and everything. And we just have to understand that that’s soft bigotry of low expectation. We don’t need to embrace that. We need to take that up. And even sometimes we take the heat, we fall down. We got to look up, because if you can look up, you can get up. That’s something that we’ve seen within. We have we people have been successful in the United States with and we kind of have that translated into our content. There is a lot of winning and success stories. And you know what? I’m sorry. You just gave me a topic of my next book. I’m going to produce a profile in courage from Africans Wood, garden Oil and Gas and did that. And I write a profile in courage about a few of them. Those stories are going to come out.

Stuart Turley [00:23:27] How cool is that? MJ, we’re in Cyprus. We’re just about out of time, and I cannot wait to be.

NJ Ayuk [00:23:35] Let’s do it again.

Stuart Turley [00:23:36] Absolutely. I can’t wait to be one of your biggest cheerleaders out here, getting your story and the message out for you. And I can’t wait to visit with you again. What’s coming around the corner for you? The chamber and your book? Your your book is just incredible. I can’t it’s going to be in the show notes, but what’s coming around the corner for you? And we’ll close this, this edition up. But we’re going to be back again.

NJ Ayuk [00:24:03] We’re going to be starting a big, massive drive because it show call on financing A to African energy is a big thing. If pressure on fossil fuel companies in Europe that needs our gas the most says natural gas is green but green for Europe, but not bad, not for Africa. So we I see chamber. We going to be launching a massive effort to bring finance into African energy. So we’re going to be reaching out to United States in several weeks. And I might see you in Houston doing there. Are we we’re going to be in Paris to go and see and be in London. But even bigger than that, we are going to be doing a big push where with African leaders bringing them together to understand that Africa’s right to drill, it’s non-negotiable. And I don’t apologize for drill, baby drill. And we going to continue defending our industry like a junkyard dog in the face of a hurricane.

Stuart Turley [00:25:02] I love it. Well, thank you both, Cyrus. Thank you and NJ, I cannot wait to see you guys and visit with you again. And we will have all this in the show notes. Thank you all very much.

NJ Ayuk [00:25:15] Thank you so much. Such an honor. Thank you.

Cyrus Brooks [00:25:17] Thanks Stuart.

About Stu Turley 3038 Articles
Stuart Turley is President and CEO of Sandstone Group, a top energy data, and finance consultancy working with companies all throughout the energy value chain. Sandstone helps both small and large-cap energy companies to develop customized applications and manage data workflows/integration throughout the entire business. With experience implementing enterprise networks, supercomputers, and cellular tower solutions, Sandstone has become a trusted source and advisor.   He is also the Executive Publisher of www.energynewsbeat.com, the best source for 24/7 energy news coverage, and is the Co-Host of the energy news video and Podcast Energy News Beat. Energy should be used to elevate humanity out of poverty. Let's use all forms of energy with the least impact on the environment while being sustainable without printing money. Stu is also a co-host on the 3 Podcasters Walk into A Bar podcast with David Blackmon, and Rey Trevino. Stuart is guided by over 30 years of business management experience, having successfully built and help sell multiple small and medium businesses while consulting for numerous Fortune 500 companies. He holds a B.A in Business Administration from Oklahoma State and an MBA from Oklahoma City University.