The topics under discussion ranged from supporting large scale projects, supporting sustainable investments, the importance of sustainability in making investments green (as well as profitable) and covered shipping, energy, and construction law, as well as looking into the future for Africa’s young legal leaders.
The morning sessions were ably introduced by Arun Velusami, of Hogan Lovells, who gave an overview of key issues shaping the continent. This understanding of the African context to that sector led neatly into a discussion, chaired by Ayuli Jemide from Detail Commercial Solicitors, who looked at how infrastructure projects could be protected in the post-pandemic era.
Jemide, who chairs the highly influential Nigerian Bar Association Section on Business Law, led a panel which considered the needs of sponsors, contractors, corporates, and governments, drawing on the experience of Linklaters’ partner, Andrew Jones, and Reed Smith partner, Victoria Westcott, while Crispine Odhiambo, managing partner, KO Associates, added a Kenyan perspective.
No less important than infrastructure to Africa is energy. Here, Oba Nsugbe QC SAN, of Pump Court Chambers, an eminent Nigerian-British advocate and barrister, discussed how the energy markets, specifically those around the oil and gas industry, both upstream and downstream, would manage the energy transition, assisted by Oliver Mellman of Keystone Law, and Ian Herbert of CMS, and ‘Gbite Adeniji, partner, Advisory Legal Consultants.
In a session which captured both the immediate past – as energy majors and minors adjusted to the new realities post-pandemic – and the intermediate future, with the transition to renewable energy, both risks and opportunities were equally assessed.
Following that session was a fireside chat on maritime law, which spanned shipping, commodities, finance, and regulation. Key to the discussion was a consideration of barriers to entry and protections for investors operating in Nigeria.
Chaired by Funke Agbor, of ACAS Law, who ably explained Nigerian approaches, the views of the shipping community, and stakeholders in it, were assessed in determining what made a project attractive, and how stakeholders could work together to make it so.
That involved discussions on matters from governing law, to finance, and the role of ESG activities, and the ways in which shipping can act more sustainably, in meeting environmental concerns, aided by a panel of partners from Watson Farley & Williams.
Those same initiatives were considered in a session led by Pieter Badenhorst, General Counsel, AFGRI, who, in a panel consisting of Rachel Barrett, of Linklaters, Simon Buchler, of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, and Fiona Gulliford, of Trinity International, looked at the subject of sustainable investment.
The latest trends were considered, as were the challenges for banks and project managers; as well as the risks, and opportunities, presented by new products and new technologies.
In a discussion that ranged from financial viability, to soft law and climate change developments, the complexities of this vital issue made it clear that financial sustainability was no less important than greener projects, as was government support for such initiatives.
The event closed with a fascinating discussion from some inspirational leaders, who represented the future of Africa and the UK’s legal services, spelling out the opportunities and challenges they faced.
Time and again, the need to understand, foster and support business, and to work with businesses in an holistic, yet human, way, underpinned advice from a generation that sees technology and legal excellence as complementary.
Each of the speakers, Imika Adesola, the founder of Legally Engaged, Charlie-Louise Akintilo, a barrister at AOL, Chinenye Uwanaka, Chief Executive, The Firma Advisory and Ethan Mudavanhu, a tech law advisor, Endcode, offered an energetic and enthusiastic coda to the day.
It was left to Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC, to conclude the event, saying he was “certain the connections made will help us to create a shared vision of success for many years to come.”
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