SPIEF 2024
The 2024 edition of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) takes place from June 5 to 8. The theme of this year's event is “The foundation of a multipolar world - forming new points of growth”.

African Businessman Warns of Weapon Flows to Africa Amidst Ukraine Conflict

© SputnikNJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, speaks to Sputnik Africa on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF 2024) on Friday, June 7.
NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, speaks to Sputnik Africa on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF 2024) on Friday, June 7. - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 07.06.2024
On June 5, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF 2024) kicked off in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, bringing together high-level Russian and foreign government officials, including heads of state, as well as business representatives from around the world.
NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, has expressed concern about the West's uncontrolled arming of Kiev amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the flow of weapons illegally into Africa.
Ayuk, speaking on the sidelines of SPIEF 2024, highlighted the devastating impact of insecurity on the continent’s development, particularly in the energy sector. He also underscored the dire consequences of instability, citing the Sahel region and Mozambique as examples.

“What you’ve seen in Africa is that you’ve seen a series of insecurity issues happening across the Sahel region that have to be fixed,” he said. “We don’t know where those weapons are coming from. We don’t know who is sending those weapons, but what do we want? We want that when you have insecurity from terrorists or Islamic extremists, it needs to be stopped.”

The Cameroonian businessman emphasized the devastating impact of insecurity on African children and their future prospects. “An African child can’t read when you got terrorists trying to kidnap girls like we saw with Boko Haram and everything,” he said. “An African young boy can’t have a job when he’s been driven every day to say you need to go into camps with a lot of extremists and all of that stuff.”
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Ayuk called for an immediate end to the flow of weapons, noting Africa's vulnerability to global crises.

“We're victims in Africa. We always say that when the global North or the 'big world' has a recession, Africa has a depression, and it’s unfortunate that we can see any kind of qualification of any kind of illegal weapons in Africa,” he stated.

Ayuk, a staunch advocate for the continent's development, stressed his commitment to peace and security in Africa, emphasizing the need for stability to address pressing challenges like energy poverty.
“I love my continent so much. I want more peace, more security, more stability so that we can do energy business and deal with our most important issue in Africa today, making energy poverty history,” he concluded.

'Unfair' Green Policies Imposed on Continent

"Nobody wants to breathe clean air in the dark," NJ Ayuk said, launching a scathing critique of Western nations attempting to impose "green" policies on African countries. He accused them of hypocrisy and demanded a more equitable approach to energy transitions.

"The Western countries have used oil, natural gas or fossil fuels to power the economy. They've built industries. They've driven human flourishing. They have made themselves really, really wealthy. We don't think they have any right to tell Africans to leave their oil and gas in the ground," the businessman told Sputnik Africa.

He pointed to the stark reality of energy poverty in Africa, where hundreds of millions of people lack access to electricity and clean cooking facilities.
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"You cannot tell a child in Mozambique, Namibia, or Sierra Leone that they do not have the right to have a decent form of life because they are black, or African," Ayuk said. "Africans deserve to use fossil fuels to grow our economies, drive up industrialization."

He also noted that Africa's comparatively low greenhouse gas emissions (less than 3%) don't justify restricting its energy choices. The Cameroonian businessman argued that Africa can still industrialize and transition to cleaner energy sources on its own terms without being forced into a "fast-track" approach that ignores its current needs.
Ayuk called for a "just energy transition" that acknowledges the unique circumstances of developing countries and prioritizes their development needs.

Sanctions' Impact on Africa's Food Security

Western sanctions are hindering the African continent's ability to feed itself and exacerbating existing challenges, the head of the African Energy Chamber warned.
Ayuk emphasized the critical link between energy security and food security, arguing that Africa's ability to develop its own agricultural sector is being stifled by the restrictions on energy exploration and development.
He argued that Africa must take charge of its own food security by leveraging its natural resources, particularly natural gas.

"We need to grow it [food] from Africa first," he said. "We turn it around. We get natural gas that can be explored offshore Africa and onshore Africa, drive up petrochemicals, produce massive stocks of urea, ammonia, NPK, fertilizer plants, and then use African fertilizer to really, really drive up African agricultural bases."

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on June 6, 2024. - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 07.06.2024
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Ayuk stressed that Africa's dependence on food imports is not only unsustainable but also exacerbates other challenges, including migration.

"We need to put a brake on some of these barriers, like the sanctions that are affecting natural gas development, because we can do that in Africa," he said.

He also underscored the significance of Russia's expertise in natural gas development and fertilizer production, noting that Africa could greatly benefit from collaboration with the country. However, he expressed concern that Western anti-Russian sanctions are preventing Africa from accessing this valuable expertise.

"Sometimes we cannot; now we can't even get the technologies we want from Russia. We can't get some of the finances that could come out of Russia. We cannot get some of the technical skills and know-how because Russia has done very well with natural gas," he said. "But if we stop getting that, then it affects us, our own humanity, and our own development as well."