Third Annual Symposium reaffirms Africa as an investment destination

Slaughter and May hosted its third successful Practical and Legal Education African Symposium, together with its European Best Friends and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. This year's symposium took place in Nairobi, Kenya from 12 - 15 November and again provided a valuable forum in which many European, US and African law firms shared recent expertise and experience alongside representatives from a number of multinational corporations and banks with interests in Africa, including Diageo, GE Africa, Prudential, Philips Africa, Standard Chartered and Vivo Energy.

Opening keynote speeches were given by Hon. Prof. Githu Muigai, Attorney General of the Republic of Kenya and Dr. Kevin K. Kariuki, Head of Infrastructure at Industrial Promotion Services (K) Ltd, the industrial development arm of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development. They respectively considered liberalisation of the legal profession in Kenya and the role lawyers have to play in ongoing infrastructure development in Kenya and in Africa more broadly. Dr. John Murton, Deputy British High Commissioner to the Republic of Kenya, spoke on the second day about how the UK's historic relationship with Kenya provides a strong foundation for ongoing trade between the two countries in the 21st century.

Other sessions across the three days focused on a number of topics directly impacting the African business community and international investors. These included:

  • how lawyers can assist their clients in anticipating general changes in the legal landscape
  • infrastructure opportunities
  • the management of global investigations
  • the implementation of good corporate governance

Panellists from the host law firms were joined by panellists from many leading African firms, including Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa and Ankomah (Ghana), AF Mpanga (Uganda), Aluko & Oyebode (Nigeria), Coulson Harney (Kenya) and HHM ORARO (Kenya).

Andrew Balfour, Chairman of the firm's Africa Practice Group, said:

"Africa holds a huge proportion of the world's natural resources yet faces many challenges, with the continent's population expected to double by 2050. It is against this complicated and unique backdrop that the appetite to invest and do business in the continent continues to grow. This Third Annual Symposium was the largest in terms of attendance and scope, reflecting the crucial role lawyers from around the world have to play in shaping Africa's future prosperity."

David Harlock, General Counsel Corporate Centre, Supply & Procurement, ATREE at Diageo added:

"Kenya is increasingly seen by the global business community and the markets as a financial hub, embodied by the recent demutualisation of the Nairobi Securities Exchange, so it was appropriate that this year's Symposium was held in its capital. It was again a very successful event, which achieved its objective of strengthening relationships between all attending firms."

Slaughter and May has been at the forefront of transactions in Africa for a number of decades and has developed close relationships with many of the leading law firms across the different regions of Africa. The firm has substantial experience encompassing many different sectors and on all types of transactions including M&A, project financing, capital markets and dispute resolution.