New Paths Opened As African Energy Actors Return with Mega Deals from US-Africa Summit
By Prince Kurupati
The African Metals Group spiced up the energy component of recent US-African Leaders Summit with a high profile reception at the Waldorf Astoria in Washington,DC . In attendance were several U.S. energy investors and African energy asset owners. The event’s mission was to help establish networks and partnerships between African energy actors and overseas investors.
Facilitating the event were the Executive Chairman of African Metals Group C. Derek Campbell as well as several sponsors which include PFL Engineering Services Limited, Global Policy House, TransGen Energy, Hightowers Petroleum and Templars.
The keynote speaker was Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima , Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea who is the incoming President of both OPEC and the GECF (Gas Exporting Countries Forum). In his address, he called upon the African continent to open its doors to the world for investment opportunities. He stated that the whole of Africa is “open for business”. He went further stating that Equatorial Guinea and the entire African continent are ready to “receive American investors/Technical companies as partners to address the global needs of Energy Transition and Africa’s desire to eradicate energy poverty throughout the continent”.
However, Mr Obiang Lima said that Africa will not be taken advantage of simply because it needs investment. All those who want to invest in the continent should respect the laws of the land as well as the energy policies that individual African countries have put in place. With the US-African Leaders Summit taking place in the USA for the second time, Mr Obiang Lima expressed the hope that the third one will take place on African soil.
The sentiments echoed by Mr Obiang Lima were also reinforced by Honourable Dr. Hippolyte Fofack from the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) where the holds the position of Chief Economist and Director of Research. Dr. Fofack said that Africa is open for business and in all investment projects that U.S. energy actors may be willing to partake in on the continent, Afreximbank is ready “to facilitate energy sector opportunities”.
Thanks to the networking opportunities availed at the Summit, Zambia managed to enter into a multi-million deal with U.S.-based Kobold Metals. The $150 million deal according to Gina Raimondo the U.S. Secretary of Commerce was one of the biggest deals made at the U.S.-Africa Summit. The deal will see the American firm ‘extract’ and process the environmentally friendly cobalt an ingredient found in lithium-ion batteries found in electric cars, tablets, laptops and smartphones.
Speaking after signing the deal, Kobold Metals’ founder and president Josh Goldman said they had chosen Zambia as it is a “safe and peaceful place where we can hire exceptional people, where the laws support investing for the long term, where we can operate in ways that protect the environment and support local communities and where government supports our investment with actions that are fair, transparent and fast”.
Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema was elated with the deal and stated that it’s not a win for Zambia alone but for the entire African continent. “This is not about Zambia, this investment today is not about Kobold and ZCCM (Zambia’s public/private mining company), it’s not about Zambia, it’s about all these and the rest of the world as we grapple with climate change issues, as we grapple with replacing climate-damaging fuels with green fuels, and therefore electric vehicles, very, very important to us,” Hichilema said.