South African firm ENSafrica has merged with Ghana’s Oxford & Beaumont to form ENSafrica Ghana, its seventh African jurisdiction.

Oxford & Beaumont was founded in 2006 and currently has three partners and another 25 fee-earners, including a tax consultant. In 2010 the firm launched a representative office in London.

ENSafrica deputy chief executive Mzi Mgudlwa said ENSafrica would maintain the London representative base for the time being, focused on Ghana.

He said the firm had been seeking an entry point into West Africa for some time and the region had “been conspicuous by its absence” from ENSafrica’s footprint.

“If you look at where FDI is flowing into the continent, and if you look at the performance of various economies across the continent, Ghana sits at the top of that pile,” Mgudlwa said. “We’ve always been eyeing it and were determined to make a go of it, only when we found the right partner.”

Mgudlwa added that Oxford & Beaumont’s practice was complementary to ENSafrica’s, with some shared clients in sectors including financial services, mining and telecoms.

The South African firm first approached Oxford & Beaumont some 16 months ago after working with the practice on several occasions in previous years. The two “shook hands” in June, said Mgudlwa, with the merger to take effect on 1 December.

“It’s an exciting entry into the West Africa region but it’s by no means the start and end of our efforts in the region,” said Mgudlwa, adding that ENSafrica continued to explore its options in Nigeria.

He said the firm was also looking at expansion in East Africa, where the “gaping hole” was Kenya. Unlike Ghana, foreign-headquartered firms entering Kenya must currently do so under an association model and cannot use their own branding. 

The move into Ghana follows ENSafrica’s expansion into Namibia a year ago through a merger with 11-partner Lorentz Angula. Once the merger goes live the firm will have a presence in Ghana, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.