There are huge opportunities and an exciting future ahead for African businesses, says Riza Moosa, Managing Partner of CMS South Africa and newly appointed Chairperson of CMS Africa. He discussed the prospects with Craig Sisterson.
Global interest in the huge potential of many sectors across Africa – plus the forward-looking perspectives from African businesses and a new generation of entrepreneurial lawyers – all adds up to a very exciting future, says Riza Moosa of CMS South Africa.
“In a global firm context, I think part of the mantra is to follow where your major clients are going, and global firms recognise clients are developing businesses, investing in, and looking at various sectors across Africa,” noted Moosa, the managing partner in the Johannesburg practice of international giant CMS, and recently appointed Chairperson of CMS Africa.
Moosa believes the next generation of clients and legal advisors will leverage local experience to move a greater range of industries and countries in fresh directions, creating huge opportunities. With six – soon to be seven – offices across the continent, and established Africa Desks in London, Paris and Lisbon, covering OHADA and Lusophone Africa countries, CMS has a long-standing history of advising clients in Africa.
“The notion that African opportunity was solely found in natural resources and extractive industries has shifted dramatically,” commented Moosa. “Although large-scale infrastructure and energy projects will continue to be a main feature of African economic development for a long time to come, we are seeing rapid growth of industries being driven by a burgeoning urbanised and youthful population. This covers everything from fashion in Africa to fintech and payment systems companies that are outpacing global markets in terms of tech and funding. It’s the youthfulness of our population that drives that.”
Moosa noted that these growth opportunities are the drivers of global law firms who want an African presence and want to be well placed to serve clients looking to grow inbound, outbound and intra-African business.
“Like most businesses, law firms have adopted various models to work in Africa, but CMS is slightly different, with our hybrid model recognising independent law firms working in specific regions,” Moosa explained.
This hybrid model can involve startup practices founded by local lawyers who’ve worked in international firms, exclusively partnering with top independent firms, or bringing onboard a long-entrenched, established firm like CMS has done in Kenya. This business plan gives flexibility to choose what’s best in any particular country.
Moosa says CMS Africa’s brand recognises that clients are looking for an amalgamation of international experience and local presence, ambition, and knowledge whilst strengthening professional services in Africa and positioning local lawyers as leaders on transactions. “This is the next generation of experts – people who are supported by those who have developed the expertise, whether they sit in Johannesburg, London, Lisbon or Paris,” he commented.
“Our African firms are dynamic and are focused on growing CMS Africa’s business and brand,” Moosa added. “My role is to try to develop that as quickly as we can. We’re taking this deep investment CMS has put into Africa over 50 years and using it as a platform, and I’m excited about speaking to some of the more entrepreneurial firms in various African countries and seeing how we can work together and build a distinctively African business and brand.”
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