“As a child, the first thing that attracted me to law was all those wonderful stories I heard about how lawyers, who were always white and rich, healed people. I thought law would be a safe career for me, and it has been in both respects.”
When asked why she decided to pursue energy law specifically, Nj Ayuk says “I wanted to help my country obtain more fuel than ever before – something which is still very much lacking in Africa.”
Nj Ayuk’s story is one of many success stories from Cameroon – a country where almost half the population lives on less than $1.90 per day. Nj Ayuk was just twelve years old when her mother died, leaving her and her sisters to take care of themselves. She addressed the difficult circumstances through sheer determination, receiving several academic scholarships, and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Law from the University of Yaoundé I.
Upon graduation she began working for a law firm where she practiced for around six years before deciding to travel abroad to study energy law at Queen Mary University of London, making the decision largely due to a lack of energy sources in Cameroon – particularly gas – which she felt were necessary so that the country could “develop its infrastructure on par with other nations”.
During this time she worked as an intern at the United Nations Development Programme, where she helped revise legal guides for the UN.
In 2012 she graduated with a Masters degree in Energy and Natural Resources Law from Queen Mary University of London, becoming the first person from Cameroon to graduate with such a degree. She then returned to Cameroon where she began working for an international law firm based in London.
Nj Ayuk works specifically with international energy companies and foundations, which are required to have energy specialists working on their behalf in any countries that they operate. For example, she works with energy companies such as Shell International Oil Company in Nigeria, Chevron Corporation and Exxon Mobile Corporation in various African countries including Nigeria and Angola, and Total S.A. in Liberia.
Through her work Nj Ayuk is able to help the people of Africa by developing resources for them. She says “I want to see my country develop both from an infrastructure and social perspective… I want to be part of this change.”
Nj Ayuk has also been part of a number of non-governmental organizations and international groups that are working to improve the situation in Africa, including LGE-Afrique(formerly known as Lawyers for Global Energy) and Association des Jeunes Avocats de l’Afrique Francophone(AJAFA). She is also regularly invited to speak at conferences on energy law as well as the legal system in Africa.
In addition to her work, Nj Ayuk is an active volunteer at home in Cameroon, where she helps young people who are struggling with their education. She says “I use my spare time to help the less privileged… I think it’s important to help those less fortunate than ourselves.