The Politics of African Oil Conferences - Africa’s premier report on the oil, gas and energy landscape.

The Politics of African Oil Conferences

By Toyin Akinosho

In 1994, South Africa’s first year of fully democratic elections, the Africa Oil Week (AOW) began in Cape Town, the country’s widely acclaimed ‘mother city’.

Christened ‘Africa Upstream’, at the time, the Conference was inaugurated in Camps Bay, “a beautiful locale over the towering Cape peaks, facing the ever cold Atlantic”, reports Duncan Clarke, the AOW’s founder, in his memoir Three Decades in the Long Grass: The story of Global Pacific & Partners. “No facility existed and we used a huge marquee to accommodate the 300 delegates”, the Zimbabwe born Clarke notes in the book.  Clarke enlisted Alec Erwin, “an old friend and minister in Mandela’s cabinet, who had gone to school in Umtali (Mutare), in [then] Rhodesia to give the opening address”.

The second edition of the conference was held in Johannesburg, “unwisely persuaded that this, the heart of sub-Saharan Africa’s economy, would prove a more fertile ground. It didn’t, and the location of the conference in Midrand was a near disaster of logistics and on-site management. Never again, we vowed, so we moved back to the Cape to find the IMAX BMW Centre as our next venue-and for the next 17 years to follow-initially taking a smaller room than the main theatre for the conference meeting”.

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By 2013, the conference had been renamed Africa Oil Week (AOW).

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I’d pause here to scan across the continent to focus on the emergence of NJ Ayuk, a gutsy, charismatic, Cameroonian born, US trained lawyer.

I met NJ Ayuk in 2015, in the company of Thabo Kgogo, then CEO of the JSE listed, South African independent SacOil, at the Cubana bar and restaurant, an upmarket lounge in Cape Town, which was a sundowner favourite hangout of the AOW crowd. At the time, I had watched Ayuk from a distance with a large dose of respect mixed with curiosity and a lot of questions. His Centurion Law firm seemed so unutterably successful for a company headquartered in Equatorial Guinea. It wasn’t lost on me that, even while located in such a back water part of the continent, it was loudly touting Pan African credentials.

How did the Africa Energy Week, created by  Ayuk’s Energy Capital & Power and African Energy Chamber, manage to wrestle down the wrestle down the “gigantic” AOW, which no longer has Duncan Clarke at the helm, but being managed by the Hyve  Group?

The full article is in the October/November 2023 edition of the Africa Oil+Gas Report

 

 

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