Jason Hartman brings guest NJ Ayuk to discuss the development of Africa and the continent’s potential. NJ Ayuk is the Executive Chairman of African Energy Chamber, CEO of Centurion Law Group, and author of the new book Billions At Play: The Future Of African Energy And Doing Deals, about the development that’s happening inside Africa.
Those who have understood that the paradigm has changed. And that’s perhaps we need to do something that’s counterintuitive. Like being in debt, which obviously we have all been taught is a horrible thing. You know, maybe it’s those few early people who understand that and witness that. So perhaps some people who are more sensitive to risk or more risk averse, or I don’t know what the perfection is, but the canary in the coal mine, if you want, and this is perhaps what you are in like you have been. I am surprised, Jason right. Now, that’s basically what we are saying is not yet more mainstream. I’m not saying that this should be or that this should already be what everybody’s thinking that but so few people are thinking that or at least that so few people are vocal about it. So perhaps it’s just a well kept secrets and those who know we don’t want to talk about it, but I’m very surprised because this is so march against the mainstream of what you’re reading in the paper.
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Jason Hartman 1:53
Welcome to Episode 1352 1352 and today, you are in for a treat. Great interview I had with our guest today nj. And we are going to talk about well, let me just put this in context for you. Well, in my context, maybe it’s not everybody else’s context. But back in the early 70s, our former President Richard Nixon took a very historic trip to China. And Nixon also in 1971. Not too far before his trip to China. I believe I could have these dates a little mixed up. But I remember thinking about it before and I remember thinking he went to China, right after he closed the gold window, meaning he took the US dollar off the gold standard. That was its last vestige of tie to gold where it was not redeemable for gold after that. Why does this matter? Why does it matter? Well, This just came out of my own head. Maybe it’s my little conspiracy theory. I don’t know, maybe I’m wearing a tinfoil hat. But I think there’s a strong possibility these two events are connected. So we go off the gold standard, the government can inflate, inflate, inflate. And then Nixon takes this historic trip to China to open up relations with the Communist China. Right. Amazing. Like that was an unbelievable thing. It’s it’s kind of like Donald Trump going to meet with Kim Jong moon, the dictator of North Korea, right. It’s pretty amazing. And I’m thinking, well, the sitting president at the time is thinking, Okay, we’re untethered from the gold standard anymore anymore nowadays, thanks to his own actions. And we have now got the ability to spend spend Spend. And when you spend you create what? inflation, yes, inflation. So we’ve got to go look for some cheap manufacturing labor. So let’s go open up relations with China. And shortly after that, we saw this sort of bifurcated economy in China where the policy was, let’s engage in capitalism in terms of trade and our companies, but will also have communism at the same time. So they have this kind of parallel economy. It’s a very odd thing. And nowadays, it’s much more capitalistic than it was then obviously, obviously. So I say that Nixon went to China to open up a cheap labor market. Okay. Now, what does that have to do with our guest today? Well, this guy is awesome, NJ. He talks a lot about Africa and I wonder I hypothesize as to whether or not you know, since we see Chinese wages going up Chinese regulation going up a maturity of industry in China, that hasn’t been happening for, you know, a few decades now, obviously, maybe we need to look for the next low cost labor market, right? Well, we’ve got this giant African continent that is very fragmented compared to its land mass doesn’t have much in the way of coastline. And of course, that means trade has been inhibited. And so there’s all kinds of stuff going on there. You know, it’s a very complicated continent, and a very tribal continent and very fragmented where, you know, Swahili is the lingua franca, but there’s just so many languages and cultures and countries and many of them landlocked, and that’s very significant for trade and just a lot of things. We’re going to discuss that today, but is Africa. Now we’re seeing some real bright spots in Africa some real growth and some real success is that the next low cost labor market is that the next workshop of the world the way China has been as it’s getting more expensive, and there’s obviously this little thing called the trade. Nope, not war, the trade negotiation of the trade negotiation. War is the wrong word. It’s just a negotiation, folks. Relax, relax. Okay, without further ado, let’s go to our guest and let’s talk to nj he’s got some great insights for you. And I think you’ll like this and the macro economic picture.
Jason Hartman 6:41
It’s my pleasure to welcome nj ioq. He is the Executive Chairman of the African energy Chamber of Commerce and CEO and managing partner of Centurion Law Group. They are a pan African corporate law conglomerate. He’s been active in structuring, negotiating and implementing entrepreneurial projects in Sub Saharan Africa with extensive experience in advising both international and local companies and governments. He’s one of Africa’s most prolific energy deal makers and investors. He is the author of the number one best selling book on African business billions at play the future of African energy and doing deals. And Jay, welcome. How you doing?
NJ Ayuk 7:24
I’m doing really good. Thank you for having me.
Jason Hartman 7:26
Well, the pleasure is all mine. So you are in Johannesburg, right?
NJ Ayuk 7:30
I mean, do hundreds of South Africa.
Jason Hartman 7:32
Fantastic. Well, I’ve been to Johannesburg before I was there about I don’t know 15 years ago. Really love traveling around South Africa. fascinating place. You need to come back. You need to come back. I would love to it is about the world’s longest flight from where I am. So it’s not on my list right now. But I’ll get there. Glenda I’m in Palm Beach, Florida, so it’s not quite as long as what
NJ Ayuk 7:58
Beach California. So You go to Atlanta is a direct flight with Delta Airlines directly to Johannesburg.
Jason Hartman 8:05
Oh, fantastic. That’s That’s good to know. Good to know, what is going on in Africa. And we’re not just talking about South Africa today, right? We’re talking about the entire cocoon, right? Yes. Okay. Yes, that’s right. Tell us about I mean, obviously, the continent has struggled in so many ways. There are so many languages, it’s very hard to put it together. There’s a lot of tribalism lot a issues, you know, a lot of complexity, of course, what’s going on in Africa? Where are the bright spots? Where are the difficult spots? You know, what are the sectors that are going to lead to growth? You know, just give us a big macro overview, if you would?
NJ Ayuk 8:39
Well, you know, the continent has had its challenges, and it still does the, as you rightly put it, but there is still some hope. And I think that’s something very American, which we draw out of America today in Africa. You look at in Senegal, in the western part of Africa, you see there is a lot of gas fine. by a US company called Cosmos energy, you go around East Africa, you get to tall and the Chinese discovering Oil and Natural Resources they just in Uganda, but just north of that you got South Sudan which is already becoming sort of itself state, even though he has great prospects. And you look in South Africa, which nobody will ever thought you will find any kind of gas, you found a 1 billion barrels of gases that Africa you look at Mozambique, the US companies are putting $50 billion to have an app ID in Mozambique. I will be doing about seven energy trains Equatorial Guinea, you still seen a lot of things, but also you’re still seeing a lot of issues which we still dealing with governance. What is corruption in Nigeria, of mismanagement of resources in Cameroon? Are you looking at different places where we’ve not really done more to step up and play the role of women in the energy sector or even within business or in boardrooms. But there is a lot of hope. And I think that hope comes from a very young population. That is under 30 70% of the African populations under 30. So you’re going to see there, so this new generation is demanded more than the older generation. And the more connected, the more Wyatt and the early thinking a lot more about a feature, and what it’s going to mean to them. So yes, there is a lot of challenges, but there’s a lot of opportunities. And people really want to take advantage of you know, what’s interesting, you mentioned being wired. And actually, maybe you should have said being wire less, because what’s fascinating about Africa is even though it’s a more primitive region, interestingly yet some of their systems are more Modern than they are in first world, wealthy countries like the US, etc. Because they
Jason Hartman 11:06
skipped a generation when it came to technology. They just skipped right to more modern payment systems, more modern Telkom that’s kind of a counterintuitive thing, isn’t
NJ Ayuk 11:18
it? And that is the advantage of Africa today. In a good friend of mine once told me, if you want to create an app today, go to Africa or look to Africa, because you going to create apps of the future, you’re going to create apps that solve problems. You’re going to create apps that find solutions. And you’ll be having more futuristic approach. And you’re right. You know, I was in Germany, talking to the Germans, and we struggle with the payment system. And I had a bank, come talk to me and say, was good and I think just go to Kenya. Yeah, they have within pesa. Yeah, you have one of the world class payment systems out there. And the Germans will look at Me I’m saying Hmm, you know, like that is the beauty of what we still have in Africa, right? Yeah, we are leap frog into the feature that that also has to come with all the sectors and all the parts of with energy. That’s why when you look at the energy sector, we talking about energy transition renewables, you in America, you you guys talk about green New Deal, I don’t really know what kind of deal is there, but and all this stuff, and you start saying, well, we must not be scared of these changes. We have to embrace them that move forward, and lead because we can lead. We can be competitive, and that’s what we have to look at. You know, I always say there’s nothing wrong with being new. America, what is the newest democracy the newest nation, but look at the way it is today. It’s the leader of the free world. So be happy to be new because you can feel it the new Yeah, it’s just so fascinating to me. That In the US, our payment systems honestly are terrible. You look at an pesa. And it is dramatically better than anything we have in the US. I mean, maybe Apple way better. Maybe Apple Pay is almost as good. But you know, that largely came out of not just the fact that you didn’t have the landline communication infrastructure that we do. Your cell phone industry didn’t start as early as ours. So you just leapfrog right to the better technologies, but also the fact that the vast majority of the continent is
Jason Hartman 13:32
unbanked. And in the US, all of our financial system is built around the idea of bank. Yes, there’s really a different paradigm for that, isn’t there? Tell us about that? I mean, you know, so many of our listeners are interested in finance and real estate investing and I want to ask you about property rights to and in real estate, specifically, but talk to us about the way America is sort of banking centric, if you will. In Africa, your systems aren’t really built around the concept of banking or they
NJ Ayuk 14:05
know they’ve got good around to control a banking because we have a tradition of doing things which it doesn’t rely on, you know, people could talk about government, strong government and everything people are giving up on government in Africa, you know, to give up on because some, most of the governments are you that the killer ships, or they’re not walking through the Gilpin government government, to the foreign ways to do which in a way is good, like,
Jason Hartman 14:31
it’s very good. I love it. Want to go back to communism, they’re crazy. You know, they wanted to
NJ Ayuk 14:39
create this once I tell you something. I live in America. I watch ronald reagan talk about a shining city on the hill. I watch America transform itself. I watch a country that was something which you would call the beacon of hope. I love that. And we love that it made us feel that if these guys can do it by believing by getting up every day and doing what is right, I wrote an article last week, they got criticized a lot for it. When I was in Germany, and I told them in the speech, I said, Stop giving us aid. It is killing us. And they almost run me out of town. But that’s what America taught me. Bring yourself together, step it up. Don’t this marched was coming. It’s coming. And I think it’s an American. But I think because we started believing in Africa that last decade that government is not the answer. Government is the problem, right? That’s what payment system. We develop this payment system that are going very well around. We could wire money back around each other and he walks very well. We are developing A lot of new technologies that are solving our problems in small ways. And with the right kind of funding, the right kind of investment is just going to spike and it’s going to get a big boom. Because we know we know we don’t trust our government, there is a huge distrust for government because when people look at government, they just see problems. You don’t see solution. This is an old ik it, they see people and some of them very bright people with PhDs. But then these young people in the continent saying, We don’t need your PhD. We need PhD. We love them, by the way, good things. And so we’re running away from that. And that’s why the embracing, embracing new things. We have to be very careful. When you look at investing the continent. People are creating new banks, online banks, creating online bank and it is walking very well and it’s driving me crazy. empower sharing things where people are having power, and they are paying power bills all around. So we have an American company working in Nigeria. And they’ve realized that liquid capital gathered in fled and difficult to get make a lot of money by not necessarily having themselves established office everywhere. And they brought American technology, capsules gas, transform that into power. And they are all getting paid easily through wire transfers through online banking. Everything is so fast. It’s so fast that grandmother’s grandmother’s are doing this and this they are not literate. They know how to use to use this. I think we, we we have a judge where we’ve lived through up to a free job. We have a lot of issues with governance. We have to build a lot of capacity. And I think this is where America really comes in. Because America always knows how to be relaxed Come back eat. And America knows how to be featuring. I think that’s why the Americans are very popular. But sometimes the Americans have also seen a big retreat in the continent, which bothers a lot of people. You know, I mean, you get into real music, you know, Americans, when you see them, we allow the boisterous and sometimes the fat, and the funny, and we love that. We love that because they have been something really good to us.
Jason Hartman 18:25
Talk to us about private property rights. I think our politics probably jive pretty well, you and I, I’m guessing just by what you said a moment ago, but no society and when you talk about Africa, you have to talk about the continent. You can’t talk about specific countries really, in the same way we just, you know, we’re just looking at a very macro level here. So you’ve got to have private property rights. Otherwise nobody will be incentivized to earn and save and invest, if they’re always in fear that it can be taken away. Right. How does that apply in Africa? And specifically real estate? If you would,
NJ Ayuk 19:06
we have made a lot of progress. I’ve always believed, free market enterprise free market capitalism is still the best route to prosperity, limited government, rule of law, property rights. And I emphasize property rights. Because if you don’t own something, you know, I was in America when everybody criticize George Walker Bush. I love him a lot. He has been ridiculous, really good for Africa. He talked about something which I listened to really spoke to my heart. It talked about an ownership society. George was targeted. He looked at it, he was taking in the majority black community and he said, I want you to own something. Because when you own something, you create wealth, and you pass it through generations. We are not going to be able to do that. If we don’t implement those things. A lot of my friends will look at it and say, Well, you know, you, you talk about right wing talk. But no, it’s walking in Africa, we inherit, you have to understand that we inherited systems that was given to us by a lot of socialist communist European countries in the 50s, and the 60s. And they implemented those laws where the state owned everything. The state own land stood on these. And so communities right now say no, let’s go back to what was fundamental in African society, where communities online and families and people own land and property because when you do that, that transforms into building strong people. There is pride in walk and not just walk this dignity walk, because you know, in our community, if you don’t walk your own land, your own property, then you feel like you left behind. And that has changed in a lot of places in the oil and gas sector do a lot of work. We still have a problem because it’s it still owns everything. need to move away from that. That’s why you have a lot of millionaires and billionaires in America because they own land. You did our culture. He did real estate. He did all on gas in your land, they found your land. And imagine eration will lend a lot of debt in America soon as American class and they say, if you find something gold diamonds, raw materials, in your own land, it is yours. It is yours. You can trade it, you can sell it. And I think that is the bedrock of any strong society. And some African countries have moved a lot for that one that like, I mean, you’d be surprised that Nigeria is doing a lot more trying to vet communities on that they’re not moving as fast as it should. Senegal is getting more open on that. But I think we need to move faster. Because the more we move, we are really empowering people to ship get on feature. And that’s when people can ship your own feature. undetermined debt, then you don’t have a big strong tyrant government that is going to come and really hold them back everything. And I think that is what the future that’s what truth. True freedom mean, that’s what true individual liberty means. And that is what we feel that in tomorrow’s Africa. It has to be the it is moving, and it is changing because people don’t have time for leadership that wants to own the land, they will push you out. And these young people, they are hungry. And I think too, that’s why you see real estate happening around the continent because guys are building loopings everywhere. And the seventh and the scene that they see, wow, I could build this. I could sell this, I could fund this I could own this. And I don’t have to wait on government to cut me a check. I don’t have to wait on government or some bureaucrat come out, do the fat belly to say I’ve got our own you all. I am my own name. And I think that spirit drives people up And that’s why for me I’m so happy to be part of the of these movement in Africa being part of this generation because I’m seeing what my parents never saw. You know, my my parents never saw it is happening as fast as we can tell you, young people on the 30. Yeah, going to leapfrog to the future so fast. And before these all octogenarians get up one day, it will be a different continent. Yeah, that’s fantastic. That’s, that’s really good to hear that optimism. And it’s interesting that it’s really better in many ways that people don’t trust the government’s there. Because then they just decide, look, I’m going to make my own way in the world. We’re going to develop our own technologies. We’re not going to depend on anybody else. We’re just going to go make things happen. And that’s really great to hear. So overall, you sound very optimistic about the continent and its future. Is that a fair statement? It is a question and I mean, I wrote a book videos at Play. If you look at it, the continent right now 920 million people in about 10 years, it will be more than a billion people. So if you look at a population of a billion on the 30, just imagine, take look at, for example, the past sector. 650 million people today do not have any kind of electricity. So if I’m if I American businessman, if I’m a young man in America, and I’m looking at providing power, electricity and everything, don’t just sit out there and install your precedent, do not accuse or insult everybody around, get out there and do stuff. That is what you do you use that grit, that American ingenuity, I write a lot about what American ingenuity can mean. For places like this. You go out there you see, I’m American, my country, you know, you see always in my country, Tis of Thee. Sweet land of liberty is that sweet land Delivery doesn’t walk on fuel, you can create something. And you can go out there and say, I will use what is American, they will have something, make a lot of money for the local communities and America and really develop that. So that gives me hope. Because I wouldn’t be talking to you today without the power of America that looked at me and give me a shot and said, if you work hard if you play by the rules, if you go to class, those kids class, and when I made a mistake, they beat me up. And you do all of that. You will get a fine law degree and a business degree and you can go right back and improve communities. If I can do it, anybody can do it. And that’s what gives me hope about Africa and gives me hope about the future. That’s fantastic. That’s fantastic. And Jay, this has been great talking I just it was love hearing your enthusiasm about all this stuff. Before you go. I just want to touch on Some of the things in your book, maybe just a couple of call outs from the table of contents, you talk about job creation and making your own multiplier effect. The recipe for economic diversification,
Jason Hartman 26:13
industrialization, you know, technological solutions for oil and gas, obviously, this continent has tremendous natural resources. You talk about empowering women and so forth. And the book is interestingly entitled billions at play. I would certainly say there are trillions at play. Maybe that was too big a word for it. But
NJ Ayuk 26:40
no, I don’t have the guts of Trump if I was from a property called
NJ Ayuk 26:48
mama taught me humility. Yes, dad billion 30.
Jason Hartman 26:52
nj give out your website and tell people where they can find out more.
NJ Ayuk 26:55
You could go to nj.com and you can find a little More about what we do in and a book as if any of your viewers ever want to come to African have to be a don’t hesitate to call us just tell us you, you are a listener to your show, and we will definitely take them on because I believe what you guys are doing. It’s really, really important for us to have that strong relationship that benefits both sides. And thank you, America for doing me proud of America for doing this to me. And your country gave me everything. I wouldn’t be anything I am today without that majestic country to have that. You know, it’s a tragic don’t believe those who tell you that you guys are not the best. Trust me. They just line on everybody that tried to knock down your capitalism socialist or communist behavior. Did you need to get back on the go? Maybe we need to send them back to school and they need to listen to our show more. Maybe they get some medication.
Jason Hartman 27:54
Yeah, yeah. Well, I agree. I agree with you. Definitely. And thank you for that. So it’s J. IU and that’s a why UK. The book is on Amazon and all the usual places. It looks great. Again, thank you for joining us today. Really great having you on the
NJ Ayuk 28:12
show. And Jay, thank you so much and God bless you.
Jason Hartman 28:16
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