Ethelbert Cooper

It is through the generosity and support of the Hutchins Center National Advisory Board member, Ethelbert Cooper, that the Cooper Gallery began its transformation from dream to reality. The gallery is proud to be named after him. Here is a brief overview of our donor's biography.


Mr. Cooper possesses an extensive background in Africa’s natural resources sector which dates back to the 1980s, when he was pivotal to transferring ownership and management oversight of Liberia’s largest industrial project – the 1960’s established US$600 million LAMCO/LIMINCO iron ore mining venture - to indigenous control. 

More recently, in 2004, Mr. Cooper was the principal founder of Afren plc, a FTSE 250 listed oil and gas exploration and production company. He continues to play an important ongoing role in guiding the activities of Afren in an advisory capacity. Afren presently produces 47,000 barrels of oil per day, holds assets in twelve countries in Africa and the Middle East, and has a market capitalization of roughly US$2.4 billion.  

In the natural gas sector specifically, Mr. Cooper went on to found African LNG Holdings Limited, a project-development company subsequently acquired by London-based Gasol Plc, and he has established African Power Generation Ltd (AFGEN), which is working to introduce clean and cost-efficient gas-fuelled power stations as the solution to Africa’s endemic electricity shortages. Mr. Cooper is currently leading a related Gasol initiative to enhance the operation of the region’s major international conduit for transporting natural gas, the West Africa Gas Pipeline.

Additionally, Mr. Cooper’s iron ore focus continues in the present day through his leadership of African Iron Ore Group (“AIOG”), a company which is assembling a portfolio of prospective assets across Africa. AIOG’s existing activities include rights to develop rail and port infrastructure for the massive Simandou iron ore project in Guinea and similar positioning in Cameroon, where its strategic ally London AIM-listed International Mining & Infrastructure Corporation plc (“IMIC”) is completing the acquisition of a major new iron ore project.

In furtherance of these goals in the iron ore sector, Mr. Cooper has been the key figure in the formation of a formal alliance of large Chinese state-owned contractors which will support the  projects of AIOG and IMIC by supplying an integrated package of rail, port, power and ore-processing infrastructure solutions, as well as by providing related project financing.         

To directly mobilize investment in the natural resources sector, Mr. Cooper has also founded and advises the African Venture Fund, coordinated from Geneva.

Reflecting Mr. Cooper’s progressive agenda when it comes to addressing social issues, he is also a founding member and Chairman of the Liberian International Development Foundation, a founder of the US-based African African-American Foundation, a member of the Advisory Board of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University, and a member of the President’s Council of International Advisors at Yale University.

Mr. Cooper earned a B.A. in Economics from Yale University in 1974.

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