UN cancels African energy financing initiative due to role of fraudster

by MMC
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UN Economic Commission for Africa reviews private sector partners after learning of NJ Ayuk’s criminal record

A UN agency canceled an initiative to mobilize African private investment in the energy sector – including for gas projects – after Climate Home revealed that one of its coalition partners was led by a convicted fraudster and alleged money launderer.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) has abandoned its flagship product Africa Energy Team initiative after examining the involvement of the African Energy Chamber, a trade group led by oil and gas lobbyist NJ Ayuk.

In 2007, lawyer of Cameroonian origin Ayuk pleaded guilty to fraud in the United States after impersonating a member of Congress to obtain visas for his fellow Cameroonians. In 2015, he was investigation by the central bank of Ghana, suspected of having laundered 2.5 million dollars.

“After reviewing its relationships with certain private sector partners within Team Energy Africa, the ECA has decided to cancel the initiative with immediate effect,” said the commission’s climate director, Jean-Paul Adam. a short statement Thursday night.

He added that Uneca remains committed to working with the private sector to improve access to energy through renewable energy across the continent and that the commission will “examine the best mechanism to enable this to happen”.

UN gives a platform to a fraudster convicted of lobbying for African gas

Team Energy Africa, a coalition of African investors and institutions, was created earlier this year to mobilize $500 billion in private sector investment in 250 GW of “clean” energy across Africa. here 2030.

The group was due to launch a dashboard at Cop27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, to show how African energy investments are being used. Although the focus was on the deployment of renewable energy, this left room for some investments in gas. Gas projects in Senegal were going to be part of the presentation.

“Gas baby gas”

Ayuk had strongly argued that African countries should pursue gas extraction to boost Africa’s development. He came to the Cop27 climate summit with currency: “Gas baby gas.”

Uneca has defended a role for gas in the transition to clean energy in “very specific cases”.

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Africa lags behind in the deployment of wind and solar power, while hundreds of millions of people have no electricity. Only 2% of global investments in renewable energy over the past two decades have been made on the continent, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

One of the fiercest debates at Cop27 is whether fossil gas is part of the solution to energy poverty or a trap that African leaders should avoid.

For some developing countries with existing resources and infrastructure, gas “will play a major role in their transition to a net-zero future,” Uneca executive secretary Antonio Pedro said. “For everyone else, developing new fossil fuel infrastructure would create billions in stranded assets and debt for future generations. »

Ayuk has not yet responded directly to Climate Home’s request for comment. In an article published on the African Energy Chamber website, Ayuk made unfounded personal attacks against the messenger. He did not discuss his criminal record or the money laundering allegations.

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