Postcard from… Tanzania

Tanzania is a stunning and vibrant country and it has the advantage of political stability coupled with excellent economic opportunities as an emerging market.

Tanzania is a stunning and vibrant country and it has the advantage of political stability coupled with excellent economic opportunities as an emerging market. That said, life here is not without its challenges – power is rationed for example – but it provides a fascinating combination of professional variety and a wonderful outdoor life. One day I could be at my desk working on a disposal by a listed company of one of its major interests and on the following day find myself watching huge glossy-coated male lions lazing about in the sun, or flying in a battered but much loved four-seater Cessna with a CEO to visit his plantations in the highlands.

Dar es Salaam is a fusion of African, Arabian, Asian and some European cultures. The town is over five millenia old and has been written about by ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians; later by Persians, Arabs and the Chinese. Ranked in the top 10 fastest growing cities, the city is based around a massive natural harbour where you can see local dhows mingling with huge cruise liners and container vessels. I first arrived here 17 years ago, when I spent a year in Tanzania studying as part of my degree while at university in the US, and its charm has remained strong ever since.

I had always intended to be a lawyer, and in my early 20s I moved to London where I did the conversion course and LPC at the College of Law, and then took up the life of a corporate lawyer at Linklaters. Six years later the lure of opportunities in East Africa was irresistible and I returned to Dar es Salaam. Today, I head Clydes’ office here, which acts as a regional hub for the whole of East Africa and a gateway to the continent. We have 17 people in the team altogether, the majority of whom are East African, with three English qualified solicitors and several more lawyers due to join the Dar office from the Clyde global network.

The region has emerged as a key destination for inbound investment. International businesses are attracted by the abundance of natural resources as well as the opportunities for infrastructure development, and much of the investment has come from the Middle East and China, alongside traditional investors from Europe and America. The diversity of resources and opportunities afforded to investors has made it a thriving and go-ahead region, with many of our key clients highlighting Eastern Africa as the next emerging market for their businesses.

We have also been lucky in that the region has not been hit as hard by the recession as more mature markets, partly due to many investors having been funded prior to the economic crisis with a mandate to invest in Africa. What we do may largely be about English law, but being based in Africa and knowing how it ticks is vital to actually getting things done.

One does face challenges, but it is a beautiful country. We do fascinating work and I get to look out of my 11th floor window every day and see the crystal clear turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean lapping up against the white sands, often covered by flamingos. What a life!

Krista Bates, is a partner in Clyde & Co’s associated office in Dar es Salaam