The Role of Deeptech In Africa’s Energy Space

Pierre Mauries, founder, General Partner & Chief Investment Officer of Nemesis Technologies.

What role does Nemesis Technologies plan to play in Africa’s Energy landscape?

When we talk about growth as an investor, we know that the next two decades are going to come from Africa. There is no doubt about it, it is just a matter of when and how to incentivize that potential growth. The key growth sectors in Africa are all in underlying AI and blockchain technology, it’s buzzing everywhere. AI is there, even though it is still at a very juvenile stage.

Africa is one of the top priorities for Nemesis Technologies, with a focus on investments in Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) and Direct Air Capture (DAC). They both have an amazing potential in Africa because of the continent’s land mass that enables us to bring that technology, leveraging on those very wide spaces to come up with sustainable technology that properly captures carbon in the air, creating jobs that benefit local communities.

On top of that, Nemesis will incentivize a local startup ecosystem with incubators and entrepreneurs to keep on creating the right community around those technologies, which is crucial from a supply chain perspective. Take offshore energy, as an example. If you put a wind farm offshore Cape Town, you need to bring back that energy onshore in a sustainable and clean way, so what is the solution from a supply chain standpoint? That’s opening an ecosystem to entrepreneurship, which is quite amazing.

The climate crisis, energy security issues, and the rising costs of fossil fuels, mean we must move quickly. Reason why Africa is one of the top priorities for Nemesis.

How can Nemesis Technologies support startups on the African continent who are trying to get their hooks into the African energy sector?

Our goal is to supply key African Markets with up to $300 mn of financing, to establish 5 to 6 CCUS and DAC farms, by 2030. There are only 7 in the world to date. First, we need to consider the value we can add on top of what already exists. One of Nemesis key differentiation factors is that we come-in as DeepTech Venture Partners, bringing existing and test-proven technologies that we have invested in and co-created.

We will incubate local entrepreneurs and involve academics, to embrace the ecosystem, and liquify on the short term what has only been illiquid investments until now, and so on benefitting local LPs as well. A great deal of this comes down to resources and knowledge of what has been done successfully elsewhere. We need to consider some examples from Europe or the U.S. in terms of how we can incubate this ecosystem and whom we are going to work with. It is crucial to earn trust and confidence with the right local people that have a vision of investing in CCUS or DAC.

If we look at climate technology investment as a vertical, we start with academics with years and decades of research. Cape Town University is very advanced when it comes to it, and also has a blockchain center of excellence that has a worldwide reputation. If you are a VC fund that wants to come here, the best way is to incubate and start playing as a sort of liquidity provider within this university that helps incubate local entrepreneurs. Venture is a long game, and it will take a while to play out. It is really about continuing to build that ecosystem and be the financier to have some control of it, but start the magical element of that entrepreneurship.

The five layers of how we are doing it here in Japan include resources, competencies, platform, ecosystem and opportunity. That helps Nemesis to be very close to the evolution of offshore energy or renewable energies, all the way to our digital securitization with tokens. This helps to be part of the ecosystem at 5 or 10%, then let the ecosystem rise and shine for what it’s capable of. That’s what we’re trying to implement and bring it big time because we want to go in with much larger tickets in terms of investment into the entrepreneurs, than what we’re seeing currently, which we believe will be for the next two decades. By offering to bring the best test-proven technologies and making it as easy as possible to get started through our own incubation, we will help Africa to go green, to become energy independent, and to save costs.

With the need to transition to cleaner sources of fuel becoming more prevalent, how can Nemesis Technologies fast track the adoption of clean fuel technologies on the continent?

The key for Nemesis is to invest in what we know works. What works is direct air capture. It is scientifically proven and we work very closely with the International Energy Agency in Europe on it. There are clear metrics on a day-to-day basis as to how much we are able to capture and store in Mother Earth, and how that impacts carbon emission reduction and influences carbon pricing. You can imagine people owning carbon emissions that become a financial security.The key is to invest in bringing these technologies that have been developed outside the African continent if we have the right elements from these technologies.

For example, CCUS and DAC work. There are only seven or eight CCUS and DAC farms in the world, so we are just scratching the surface right now.

There is also real time data that clearly show how much we are capturing. It is not like carbon credit, which we think is a scam. Setting up a CCUS or a DAC farm takes a maximum of one or two years, if you bring in the right technology. Once again, it’s more about the community, the land, whether it’s a purchase or leasing, local, federal or national governments and so on and build that runway. Then in two years, you already have a very strong carbon emission reduction impact on the land.

The marketing aspect of that is Africa is showing the way, when some countries are polluting much more. Take Australia, the U.S. or China as examples. The African continent has been paying some of the consequences of this global pollution from global industries in highly developed countries. So at the end, you’re bringing in a technology that helps to reduce carbon emissions that you haven’t necessarily emitted yourself. Again, Nemesis priority is to finance that transition towards what technologically and financially works.

What message do you have for new and existing companies looking to expand into renewable energy or carbon capture and storage, especially in Africa? How can Nemesis Technologies provide support in this regard?

Never give up on the vision you have established and understand that failure is part of the game. Just make sure that failures nourish your vision. Africa has the same capabilities and competencies as we have in Europe, the UAE or APAC. It’s all a matter of infrastructure. Keep building your ecosystem and platform, continue to get financial support, work with the right people and trust the people around you. Believe in your community and believe in funds like Nemesis. We have started an emerging fund too. We are entrepreneurs too. We are foreigners in Asia, venturing into the Middle-East as well as Africa , and bring that support for the long-term. That is how our investors are following us, by going beyond the hype of blockchain and NFTs, because we are not interested in that. We are interested in the underlying technologies, in people, platforms and ecosystems that can show us that there is another way to do it. There are business models that need to positively and sustainably impact our kids and grandkids, from now.

Nemesis does appreciate that it was Africa Day, just a little while ago. We are to remember the sacrifices, moments, struggles as well as heroes and heroines that have left a tremendous legacy to Africans. Africa is not only a home for native Africans themselves, it is also the home of all of humanity. So our hope is that Africans in the future will look at this generation of Africans, with great pride.

That is how we come in, That’s our vision, and the one we want to bring to Africa.

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Energy Capital & Power is the African continent’s leading investment platform for the energy sector. Through a series of events, online content and investment reports, we unite the entire energy value chain – from oil and gas exploration to renewable power – and facilitate global and intra-African investment and collaboration.

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