This article was written by David Parkes (Partner) and Barri Mendelsohn (Managing Associate).
On 19 November 2014 the London office of King & Wood Mallesons hosted over 180 clients and contacts for its inaugural “Investing in Africa” seminar focussing on the latest developments and legal considerations affecting investors in two of the most important economies in Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.
The seminar commenced with presentations from Nigel Shaw (Partner at Kaplan & Stratton Advocates, Kenya) and Professor Konyin Ajayi (Managing Partner at Olaniwun Ajayi LP, Nigeria) who each provided an overview of the key legal and regulatory considerations for investors entering their jurisdictions. Each speaker also provided an update on the latest government led developments and sector initiatives and drew out interesting points for comparison, which instigated debate about which region would be most suited as a leading hub for investment into the continent.
In Kenya, Mr Shaw mentioned the significant new projects calling for international investment including the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (“LAPPSET”) transport and infrastructure project which is estimated to cost US$29 billion, the Standard Gauge Railway from Mombasa to Nairobi estimated to cost US$3.6 billion and the IT City at Konza (Silicon Savannah) estimated to cost US$5.7 billion.
As for Nigeria, with a population of over 170 million people and a middle class that has grown over 600% from 2000 to 2014, it is not surprising that it has attracted the largest proportion of FDI in Africa of late. Nigeria has also recently rebased its economy and is now the largest economy in Africa, overtaking South Africa. Significant projects are also underway in the country and Professor Ajayi mentioned some of these as well as highlighting sector specific developments and trends.
Following the presentations there was a panel discussion chaired by David Parkes (Corporate Partner, King & Wood Mallesons) together with Chris van Niekerk (Managing Director/Strategic Coverage – Africa at Barclays Africa), Temi Marcella Olatunde (Private Equity at The Abraaj Group) and Samuel Senbanjo (Principal, Energy & Infrastructure at Helios Investment Partners). The key observations from the presentations as well as audience questions were discussed and debated until time ran out. Thereafter guests were invited to a cocktail reception with locally inspired canapés and drinks served until conclusion of a highly successful inaugural event.