Deepening the conversation between lawyers in Ghana and the United Kingdom can provide the impetus needed to create new business opportunities for both nations which already have a strong historical link.
This has been the driving force for Boateng who founded the British-Ghanaian Lawyers’ Union in June last year. Since being launched the union has signed up 165 members spread across both countries.
“Ghana’s legal system is based on the common law system of England and Wales. This makes legal communication and relationships between the two nations straightforward,” says Boateng.
In Ghana many lawyers are dual-qualified, moving easily between the two countries to enable trade and investment.
“Through the BGLU we hope to provide opportunities to expand British lawyers’ understanding of how things work in Ghana and to further develop mutually beneficial relationships,” she says.
Despite Ghana and Britain’s historical relationship – the country was the Colony of the Gold Coast until gaining independence in 1957 - the UK is not the west African nation’s biggest trading partner. Instead it is India followed by China which dominate trade. Europe, South Africa and the United States all come in ahead of the UK. And, when it comes to trade even this relationship is skewed in favour of the UK which exports mostly manufactured goods to Ghana. Ghana, on the other hand has gold, oil, cocoa and nuts as its major exports. Most of this goes to India (gold, wood, agricultural products), China (cocoa, raw metals, wood and oil) and Switzerland (gold and cocoa).
“Strengthening the British-Ghanaian relationship in the legal sector will open opportunities for lawyers on both sides,” says Boateng. “Ghana is one of the safest and most stable countries in Africa making it an easy landing place for investors and trading partners looking to gain a foothold on the continent.”
The county is also a near neighbour of Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria. “It’s a relationship we are developing as lawyers here in London too with the BGLU looking to partner with the British Nigeria Law Forum (BNLF) on future events.”
For Boateng building these relationships is a natural extension of her own life. While she is British, her parents are Ghanaian (originally from Kumasi) and, although they lived in the UK for more than 30 years, they have since returned to Accra.
Now, during the time of Covid-19, Boateng says Ghana has taken a different approach to most of the world, partially re-opening its economy after a short lockdown. While President Nana Akufo-Addo’s decision has been criticised in some quarters, for the country’s poor it has been a relief to be able to make a living again.
Boateng said that while poverty remains serious there is a growing middle class and also “some very wealthy individuals”.
It is in her current role, within the legal team of the global wealth management firm, Dolphin Financial, that she has begun increasingly to work with high net individuals in Africa, although, these are mostly people based in South Africa and Kenya.
“However, we are interested in expanding our services to Ghana and other west African countries.”
For lawyers, accessing the right opportunities and people in Africa has to be through forming strong relationships. And it is with this in mind that Boateng is eager to create opportunities to make these connections. To find out more about the BGL LinkedIn page or email here
The BGLU consists of:
- solicitors in private practice and in-house positions;
- barristers in commercial and non-commercial field;
- practitioners in legal and compliance roles; and
- students/graduates of law and non-law studies.
The BGLU hosts a variety of social events for its members. These events connect and support members who work in the legal profession and those who want to start a legal career. The next social event is later this month - Ghanaian Zoom Quiz Night - with further details to be posted on the BGLU LinkedIn page.
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