Regional trade blocs and organisations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and Southern African Development Community (SADC) greatly help foreign investment and asset recovery, say corporate experts Lusungu Gondwe and Adetunji Adedoyin-Adeniyi.
“ECOWAS has really unified West Africa and the business landscape is very friendly. That unified business environment has made it very easy and smooth for our foreign partners to do business in Nigeria and Africa as a whole,” noted Adedoyin-Adeniyi, Managing Partner of AAA Chambers in Lagos. “There’s unification on business matters; an ease of movement. If you obtain judgement in another African country or anywhere in the world, it can be easily enforced in Nigeria, and ECOWAS really helps with recovery of assets and maintenance of assets. At AAA Chambers we’re very good at debt recovery and we have won both local and international awards in this regard.”
For Gondwe, Founding Partner of Malawi’s largest law firm, Ritz Attorneys at Law, the COMESA Treaty between 21 African nations and its associated tribunals are particularly relevant and useful in corporate finance, and make asset recovery “quite easy”.
“There is the COMESA Court of Justice, which deals with most commercial disputes within our region,” he explained. “It deals with many matters covering all sorts of businesses, industries and services areas. So recovery of assets is not a problem, aided by the COMESA Treaty. We’ve also got solid arbitration rules which make arbitration work very easy, and recovery of assets in arbitration quite possible. Like Nigeria, we have reciprocal arrangements with other countries, and enforcement of judgements legislation in Malawi.”
Decisions of the COMESA Court of Justice (CCJ) on the interpretation of the treaty take precedence over the rulings of national courts and are binding on member states. However, for Gondwe, the reciprocity and asset recovery go beyond eastern and southern Africa.
“I personally have had registered judgements from India, the UK, United States and several other countries. There’s elaborate law; recovery of assets is not a problem in Malawi.”
For Adedoyin-Adeniyi and Gondwe, the benefits of cross-border cooperation are also illustrated by their firms being part of Alliott Global Alliance (AGA). Both AAA Chambers and Ritz Attorneys are in the elite coalition of top local legal and accounting experts in 220 member firms in 95 countries.
The “simple fact”, say Adedoyin-Adeniyi and Gondwe, is that AGA provides a network of easily reachable “like-minded individuals” who are willing to help at any material time, making it quite easy to get judgements enforced, share materials, and have an edge over competition.
Locally, the corporate finance landscapes in Malawi and Nigeria are increasingly welcoming investors, say Gondwe and Adedoyin-Adeniyi, with new governments in both countries continuing to introduce policy and economic reforms to spark greater investment and trade.
“There’s a new tone in the Nigerian landscape,” said Adedoyin-Adeniyi. “The new government has brought in some financial policies which have helped a lot of investors. We have transcended from a multifaceted to unified foreign exchange system, so investors know that the value of invested funds remains the same, because the foreign exchange market has been unified. It’s now easier for foreign companies to repatriate funds. The revised company law has greatly reduced the stress of corporate finance and corporate organisations with respect to raising funds and registering companies in Nigeria.”
In Malawi, Gondwe and his colleagues at Ritz Attorneys at Law work closely with the Registrar of Financial Institutions, the Reserve Bank of Malawi, and commercial banks ahead of various corporate financing deals to help international investors successfully navigate any potential challenges, such as remitting profits in foreign currencies or credit concentration.
For Gondwe and Adedoyin-Adeniyi, their local teams – backed by membership in Alliott Global Alliance – are “tried and tested” and know the local and cross-border corporate finance landscapes “inside out”. Whether investors or lawyers, it’s great to have good neighbours.
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