By Ajong Mbapndah L
The U.S.’s rhetoric may suggest some modicum of understanding about energy realities on the Continent but policy initiatives and lack of acknowledgement regarding the dynamism of the African energy basket mix suggest that there is little understanding about the market realities regarding energy and energy transition in Africa, says C. Derek Campbell of the African Metals Group-AMG.
Speaking after hosting the U.S.-Africa Energy Investment Reception on 14 Dec 2022 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Washington, D.C. on the sidelines of the USA-African Leaders Summit, Derek Campbell said to give African energy sector leaders a chance to have their opportunities showcased to the American investor community.
The high-profile reception had over 150 participants from the American investment community, African energy & mining sector, multi-lateral capital institutions, and dignitaries from the United States and many African nations. Guests included Equatorial Guinea Minister of Mines – the Honorable Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Principal Secretary Alex Wachira of the Ministry of Energy of Kenya, Wale Tinubu of Oando PLC, Steve Hightower of Hightowers Petroleum, Dr. Hippolyte Fofack – Chief Economist of AFREXIM BANK, and Yemisi Awonuga – Head of the Energy & Natural Resources Practice of TEMPLARS International Law Firm. The speakers harped on the potential Africa has and the change dynamics that the USA needs to understand.
Building on the success of the reception, C. Derek Campbell has other events lined up to tout African energy prospects to potential investors.
Could we start with an introduction of the African Metals Group, its areas of interests, and operations in Africa?
C. Derek Campbell: African Metals Group (AMG) is a London-based company (with a point of presence in the United States) providing innovative financing and equity investment for sustainable mining projects in Emerging & Frontier Markets – with a particular focus in Africa. We invest long-term capital and technical expertise to accelerate mine development, while securing access to in-demand precious and strategic metals at scale and generating returns for our shareholders. We are currently negotiating with assets in Tanzania, South Africa, Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Ghana, and Egypt.
What is your general take on the recent USA-African Leaders Summit?
C. Derek Campbell: We believe the Summit created a great opportunity for Americans – both those in government and those from the commercial investment sector – to deliberately engage decision-makers and opportunity holders from the African energy sector. AMG made it a point to host our event during the middle of the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit in order to give African energy sector leaders a chance to have their opportunities showcased to the American investor community – a much different focus than the geopolitical discussions that were underway in the U.S. capital during the Summit.
Can you shed some light on the side event that the African Metals Group hosted on the sidelines of the Summit?
C. Derek Campbell: AMG hosted the U.S.-Africa Energy Investment Reception on 14 Dec 2022 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Washington, D.C. at the famous Lincoln Library Room. The event’s mission was to establish networks and partnerships between African energy opportunity holders and overseas investors.
There were over 150 participants from the American investment community, African energy & mining sector, multi-lateral capital institutions, and dignitaries from the United States and many African nations. Our speakers during the remarks portion of the U.S.-Africa Energy Investment Reception included – the Honorable Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima from Equatorial Guinea, Principal Secretary Alex Wachira of the Ministry of Energy of Kenya, Wale Tinubu of Oando PLC, Steve Hightower of Hightowers Petroleum, Dr. Hippolyte Fofack – Chief Economist of AFREXIM BANK, and Yemisi Awonuga – Head of the Energy & Natural Resources Practice of TEMPLARS International Law Firm.
AMG felt it necessary to ensure that during the government-to-government meetings there was also an event that could showcase commercial-to-commercial engagements between principals in the African energy sector and American investors/capital markets decision-makers.
What are some of the challenges companies like yours typically face in doing business with Africa and any recommendations that could help strengthen corporate ties?
C. Derek Campbell: Some of the salient issues that companies like AMG and others face while operating in multiple jurisdictions in Africa are challenges with:
- Repatriation of Capital
- Cost-creep generated by vague Local Content Laws – especially regarding Tribal Sovereignty claims.
- Regulatory Guidelines that are non-dynamic/archaic
- Establishing Local Partnerships with partners that have access to their own banking/financial resources.
Besides some major regulatory and commercial transactional guideline overhauls to address the aforementioned issues, one major recommendation is to have a better “PR” campaign for the entire Continent. There needs to be an active effort to showcase the business successes that foreign companies have while operating in Africa. When investments are made in Africa, particularly in the energy transition sector, double-digit returns are made. Not enough is being done to highlight this type of positive business activity which is happening Continent-wide.
Looking at the energy landscape, do you think the US understands the current energy realities and needs of Africa?
C. Derek Campbell: The U.S.’s rhetoric may suggest that they have some modicum of an understanding about energy realities on the Continent. However, their policy initiatives and their lack of acknowledgement regarding the dynamism of the African energy basket mix suggest that there is little understanding about the market realities regarding energy and energy transition in Africa.
You were in South Africa last October for the African Energy Week 2022; may we get your take on how things went and some major takeaways from this year’s edition?
C. Derek Campbell: African Energy Week 2022, sponsored by the African Energy Chamber, of which I am a committee-member, was an amazing platform that showcased the myriad of demands and opportunities across the Continent for massive energy investment – in both dollars and technical expertise.
African Metals Group (AMG) was honored to be featured in several speaking session regarding Strategic Metals & Critical Minerals in Africa, the Nuclear Energy Sector in Africa, and the EV/Battery Market in Africa.
It was inspiring to see participants from all over the globe come together to discuss ways to partner with Africans in order to enhance and optimize the energy and natural resource assets of the Continent.
As the new year starts, any big plans in view, what should the public expect from the African Metals Group?
C. Derek Campbell: African Metals Group (AMG) is currently in Capital Raise mode as we showcase investment opportunities in the Metals & Mining space that support global Energy Transition in a low-risk format. Investing with AMG gives opportunity-seekers a chance to have exposure to the precious and strategic metals & minerals market that is currently in high-demand because of global industrial and energy market supply chain gaps.
AMG is also planning on hosting additional opportunities for investors to interface with African energy asset owners/operators, like we did with the U.S.-Africa Energy Investment Reception at the Waldorf Astoria.
AMG intends to hold additional African Energy Investment Receptions throughout 2023 to facilitate meaningful deal-oriented discussions between the global investment community and African energy asset owners/operators. Be on the lookout for events in Washington, D.C, London, and Abu Dhabi.