Over the last couple months, I have seen numerous magazine articles and blog post about the emerging African Economy. Most notably, The Economist, December 3, 2011, cover story “The Hopeful Continent. Africa Rising. After decades of slow growth, Africa has a real chance to follow in the footsteps of Asia.” While all of these articles highlight that now is the time for individuals and businesses to seek investment opportunities in Africa, they all seemed to be missing something.
I realized what many of the articles were lacking when I read the blog post Find Your Alternative Path to Private Equity – Insights From Carlyle’s African Ambition by my friend, Kevin Omar Williams, President & CEO of Crimson Oak Academy. He accurately points out in the post, “The promise of astronomic returns in Africa is tempered by localized political and legal risk.” Many of the articles I have read lately fail to mention the legal implications of doing business or seeking investment opportunities in Africa.
As with all emerging markets, Africa can be a complex environment in which to operate, being subject to a wide variety of laws, regulations and business practices. This blog is called J. Paye in Brief so I will not bore you with a long laundry list of the legalities associated with doing business in Africa. I will provide you with some factors to consider when selecting a law firm to guide you in your transactions on the Continent:
- Is the law firm knowledgeable about the laws and regulations of the specific country you are looking to transact business? There are 53 countries and over a 1,000 different languages are spoken in Africa. The rules of law differ for each country. It is not enough for a law firm to have a general understanding of international business law. Point in case, Pop Icon Madonna experienced numerous legal obstacles when she tried to open a school in the African nation of Malawi.
- Does the law firm have specific knowledge of the culture and traditions of the country where you are seeking to conduct business? The cultural traditions of a specific country plays a significant role in the negotiation tactics a law firm will employ on your behalf. Partnering with a firm that has knowledge of the business etiquette in your target country will reduce the likelihood of you offending the African company or national, with whom you seek to do business.
- What relationships does the law firm have with individuals in the country you are looking to conduct business? Business is about relationships. The length of time it takes to finalize a deal in Africa is largely contingent on the relationships the law firm has established within your target country.
J. Paye & Associates possesses the fundamental understanding and knowledge of how to attain your business goals on the continent and can assist you with your complex commercial transactions in the energy, mining, infrastructure, telecom, information technology and financial services sectors.