In recent years, investors have begun to show keen interest in Francophone Africa. In this vidcast, representatives of Webber Wentzel and their alliance partner Linklaters Paris talk about the latest trends and developments.
In 29 African countries, French is the official or first language; most of these countries are located in the western, central and northern regions of the continent. Seventeen of them are signatories to Ohada, a French acronym for "Organisation pour l’Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires", a grouping which essentially guarantees legal and judicial security for investors and companies in its member countries which were previously considered volatile areas.
Yael Shafrir of South African-headquartered law firm Webber Wentzel, leading the conversation, says a key feature of Francophone Africa is many regional groupings which adhere to uniform laws and policies.
Justin C. Faye, a partner in the Energy & Infrastructure practice of Linklaters Paris, goes on to discuss the legal regimes that need to be considered when doing business in the region. He explains that with Ohada, the uniformed legislation that applies across member countries makes doing business there easier. This is the case for business law, security, arbitration and even insolvency proceedings. Justin also elaborates on other regional group sureties to assist investors.
Bruce Dickinson, Webber Wentzel’s specialist in mergers and acquisitions in the mining sector, notes that project development and expansion of existing projects are on the rise as companies move towards green minerals and energy.
"From an investment perspective, we tend to see a lot of internationals coming directly into those countries, but also quite a few of them structuring through South Africa or having elements of their business in South Africa. Given that so many of the service providers to these mining operations are South African based, be they technical service providers or equipment service providers, we see these linkages happening quite a lot," he commented.
Discussing other trends, Bertrand Andriani, Head of Banking: Energy and Infrastructure department of Linklaters in the Paris office, and also Head of the Francophone Africa Desk in Paris, said among the most recent developments is the interest in green hydrogen. He pointed out that this important source of energy is expected to be active in the coming years and presents a number of advantages for Africa to build the facilities.
Another outstanding shift, according to Bertrand, is that the market is no longer being driven by western investors, but by their African counterparts.
The speakers go into detail about the markets and opportunities on the uptick, as well as why it is still business as usual even when there is a coup in a particular Francophone country.
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