Africa New Energies has a simple vision. To give the 600 million people in Africa clean affordable electricity for the first time. It plans to do this by using its technology to find natural gas and use the founders’ share of the profits to replace the natural gas over time with solar. The Namibian government became the first to supported ANE’s approach when it awarded a 22,600 km2 oil and gas concession in the Kalahari Desert. ANE is also grateful to the British Government and to the United Nations-affiliated Non-Governmental Organisation, the African Innovation Foundation, who have contributed funds and tax concessions to help over 400 Crowdfunding investors support us.
At ANE, our ultimate goal is to provide clean energy for the hundreds of millions of people in Africa who still lack access to electricity. As a result, we have a very different structure and set of values to typical oil and gas exploration companies. The local people living on our concession are some of the very people we want to help. Our share structure is designed to ensure that these people are rewarded for their contribution to our project, and benefit from the natural resources we hope to find and access from below their land.
Since the beginning, ANE have been in communication with the Harero, Nama and San people living on the concession, who have provided us with detailed local knowledge of hydrocarbon seepages. In exchange, the directors of ANE have allocated 15% of the 120m shares that will be allocated by the end of the current fundraising round, to two community trusts. These shares have come out of the directors’ own shares, and if we do find oil the community trusts will benefit from dividends for years to come.
Many other companies have allocated shares to local people with the best intentions. However, conventional oil and gas exploration is highly capital intensive and usually results in capital providers owning up to 80%, leaving the founding team little room to provide community shares. ANE’s low cost approach has allowed a meaningful proportion of the shares to be given to local communities, while the founders retain a controlling stake, ensuring their values can be sustained as the company progresses.
Oil and gas has been nicknamed “The Black Curse of Africa”. ANE has adapted its strategy in the following practical ways to reduce its exposure to local political elites and the potential for corruption:
- The countries we have chosen to operate in, Namibia and Botswana, are regarded as the lowest political risks in Africa
- We have created a multinational group of small and engaged crowdfunding investors with access to their elected representatives all over the world, ensuring that our story gets heard.
- Our low exposure investment structures use tax breaks to tie in investors for the long term and minimise their exposure to losses.
- The company has already walked away from two projects in Africa where it was explained that corrupt payments would be needed to progress. This history has made our stance clear to others, virtually eliminating requests for such payments.
- Our focus on electricity provision rather than oil production means we are engaged in our host communities for the long term too.
- We have strong local partnerships, and are building good relationships with regulators.
- We avoid alliances with senior politicians and ‘Politically Exposed Persons’.
- Community Trust Ownership – Through these mechanisms, the interests of our investors and local shareholders are aligned and all will benefit from our success.
ANE’s founder and CEO, Stephen Larkin dedicated five years of his life to improving the safety record of the notoriously dangerous Southern African resources sector. This dedication continues at ANE and the company strives to ensure that all staff, contractors and stakeholders are kept safe beyond the requirements of health and safety regulations. The company is also undertaking a number of technological innovations to improve safety processes. When we decided to replace our off-road surface data acquisition program, both ultra-low flying fixed wing planes and quad bikes were dismissed as unacceptable safety risks, despite their common use and lower cost. We decided to procure a gyrocopter instead, which we believe to be a far safer option and will allow us to create an innovative new data collection technology.
It is the children and grandchildren of our local community shareholders who will live with the environmental successes and failures of our company. We are deeply aware that mistakes we make can have effects through generations. For this reason we want to ensure that our activities are carried out with the greatest respect for the environment and that local people, whose children will live with the consequences, are involved in the decision making process before any action is taken.
One example is our stance on Fracking. We have ruled out the use of fracking on our concession in response to the concerns of the local community. They feel that the current technology cannot safeguard their continued presence in their ancestral homelands, and poses an unacceptable risk to one of the world’s largest aquifers which lies beneath the concession.
Our goal is to attract, train and retain the best people. We believe that three factors allow us to do this:
- Our sense of purpose – ANE’s staff feel that they are part of something more important than a mere job. Our success will bring huge improvements to the communities in which we operate – universal electricity access, highly paid local jobs and community trusts with a meaningful equity stake in the business.
- Our innovative work – Our world leading technology innovation offers exciting opportunities for the most talented scientists. In order to keep up in this fast changing sector, ANE ensures our employees receive all necessary training.
- Our generous stock options – We reward our employees with generous stock options, so they have a genuine stake in the long term success of the company.