The Sharp End: winter 2013 — Africa’s changing landscape

By Jeremy Sheldon

The investment landscape in Africa has changed dramatically in the last two decades. Not only have the demographics of the continent altered, with the population now standing at approximately one billion, but so has its constitution — more working-age youth and a growing middle class. Add to that increasing political stability, robust economic growth, rich natural resources and the sheer scale of its need for infrastructure, and the investment opportunities are clear to see.

Foreign investment has increased significantly and is predicted to grow to some $150bn (£90bn) by 2015. This investment flow straddles many sectors and many countries across the continent, including agri-business, natural resources and minerals, oil and gas, infrastructure and telecommunications. But it is important not to lose sight of the fact that these opportunities are accompanied by challenges. These may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but nonetheless present a common theme and very real potential obstacles to concluding investments or at the very least getting them done in an acceptable timetable.

Africa is a diverse continent comprised of more than 50 countries, with legal systems derived from both civil and common law jurisdictions such as French, Portuguese and English. Even with this diversity, there are a number of common considerations that should, almost always, be taken into account when embarking on an investment transaction or project in Africa…

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