By Tata Mbunwe
Cameroonian-born African oil and gas mogul, NJ Ayuk, has said under-investment in the gas sector in Africa is what will stop the continent from cashing in on gas shortages in Europe linked to the Russian-Ukraine war.
He made the observation in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera Tuesday. Ayuk said African countries do not have the expected quantity of gas to supply itself and Europe, due to under-investment in the African gas sector.
This under-investment, he said, has mainly been caused by Western powers blocking efforts at expanding the African oil and gas sector over climate change concerns.
On whether African gas could substitute for Russian gas in Europe, NJ Ayuk said, “It’s going to be very tough immediately,” and that “you are going to need many months for African countries to be able to wrap-up gas production”.
Ayuk who is a also Chief Executive Officer, CEO of African Energy Chamber added that “African countries have had a tough time with gas and energy development because of the massive under investment from oil companies and from European countries that have been blocking financing of gas projects in Mozambique, in Senegal, in Nigeria and other countries in the name of climate change.”
European countries are now experiencing oil and gas deficits because of sanctions they have placed on Russia. Russia is Europe’s main gas supplier.
The European continent has been exploring other possibilities of oil and gas supply. Although attention is largely focused on Middle Eastern countries for supply, there are also possibilities Africa could step in to bridge the energy gap in Europe.
However, NJ Ayuk said Africa is unable to meet Europe’s immediate gas needs because African countries did not really consider investing in gas but rather focused on oil, because it yields more money.
Ayuk also blamed climate change activists for helping to close the possibilities of investment in gas and the development of energy infrastructure in the continent. “It’s not only the Europeans blamed for the under-investment, the Africans have been really bad in deal making and approving and fast tracking gas deals,” Ayuk added. He said African countries could double gas production if they hasten gas deals and increase investment in the sector.
NJ Ayuk is the CEO of the African Energy Chamber based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is also a managing partner of the Centurion Law Group, a pan-African corporate law conglomerate that specialises in energy extractive industries and the financial sector.
The 42-year-old Cameroonian from Manyu Division in the South West region is one of Africa’s most successful energy deal makers. He has authored at least two books on energy one of which is entitled: “Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy” released in October 2019. He also wrote the book: “Big Barrels: African Oil and Gas and the Quest for Prosperity”.