DLA Piper presents seminar in Japan on the opportunities and challenges of investing in Africa

On Wednesday, September 26, 2018, a 13-member strong DLA Piper delegation presented a seminar in Japan on the opportunities and challenges of investing in Africa. The seminar, which was sponsored by DLA Piper and the Japan Institute for Overseas Investment (JOI),  supported by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), took place at JBIC, in Tokyo, Japan.

Deep local knowledge coupled with international expertise

The African continent, with a population exceeding one billion people, and an estimated combined economy of US $1.5 trillion, presents huge opportunities for investors, however recent changes in government, legislation and policy across the region, mean that investors must address a range of issues. These include local ownership requirements, labour law, anti-trust issues and foreign exchange controls among others. Understanding how these and other issues affect investment opportunities on the continent is therefore imperative.

James Kamau, Chairman, DLA Piper Africa, said that Africa’s lack of infrastructure translates into a wealth of opportunities for investors: “If you compare Africa to more advanced regions, there is a significant shortfall in infrastructure which obviously creates a huge opportunity for any investor in Africa. Like any frontier market though, there are challenges and risks. This seminar provides an insightful platform where concerns can be addressed by some of DLA Piper Africa’s partners, who have extensive local knowledge.”

He added: “Working with our DLA Piper Japan partners, we are able to customize these solutions  by addressing the diversity of cultures. This approach responds to the challenge and it takes into account the way that Japanese clients do business.”

Addressing Japan’s approach to investment in Africa, Kaoru Umino, partner at DLA Piper Japan, said: “There is a recognition that Japan needs to be investing in a range of sectors that contribute to improvements in the quality of life – certainly energy, natural resources and large-scale infrastructure, but also hospitals, schools and training of employees in the manufacturing sector. Japan's approach to investment in Africa is to emphasize quality, reliability and social and environmental considerations, focusing on local job creation and transfer of expertise and technology that leads to sustainable growth. These objectives will continue to be explored at the next Tokyo International Conference of African Development (TICAD) VII in 2019 in Yokohama, Japan.”

Some of the questions that DLA Piper has been answering for its clients revolve around defining the most appropriate legal framework that they should adopt in order to secure  investment. The afternoon’s panel sessions addressed legal and regulatory considerations relating to investments in Southern Africa. The seminar also addressed recent developments in the power sector and the energy and natural resources sectors, as well as the experience of international investors across the continent.

Lawyers from DLA Piper's Africa practice from the following countries participated in the event: Kenya, Angola, Australia, Nigeria, France, USA, South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, China and Uganda.