“Energy in Africa: Working together to keep the lights on”

Juristconsult Chambers and DLA Piper Africa have jointly organised, on Thursday 26th February 2015, a seminar entitled “Energy in Africa: Working together to keep the lights on”. Presented by Jay Govender, Director of projects and infrastructure at South African law firm DLA Cliffe Dekke Hofmeyr (DLA CDH), this conference was aimed at highlighting the opportunities and areas of focus in relation to investments in the energy sector in Africa.

During this seminar, the trend towards privatisation in the energy distribution was addressed. Ms. Govender also highlighted legal structures in the energy sector. Specific cases in countries such as South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya were also illustrated.

Over and above the opportunities offered by this sector, important challenges have been overcome in Africa on the technical, financial, regulatory, cultural aspects as well as the governance of cross-border projects on energy. Other questions such as the security of investments, the impact of political stability of a country on investments and the need for technical partnerships and solid legal expertise were also raised by the audience.

“The stakes are high given the interest in Africa in recent years in relation to the perceived opportunities but also the difficulties, especially in light of the fact that more that 70% of the people in Sub-Saharan Africa, that is 600 million people, do not have access to electricity,” states Jay Govender. “Africa remains a land of opportunities and big scales projects, both on a regional and international level, in the energy sector and this has been reinforced recently through President Obama’s recent “Power Africa Initiative,” she adds.

According to Marc Hein, Head of Practice at Juristconsult Chambers, Mauritius is a platform of choice to invest in the energy and infrastructure sectors in Africa. He believes that, “Mauritius is ideal to structure investments into Africa in an efficient and competitive manner since the island benefits from an important network of treaties of double taxation agreements (DTAs) and of agreements concerning the protection of investments with several African countries.” He adds that “through its affiliation to DLA Piper Africa, Juristconsult Chambers, which benefits from the support and knowledge transfer from DLA CDH in particular, is ideally positioned to assist Mauritian conglomerates working on projects in Africa”.

Senior executives, consultants and entrepreneurs from the energy, construction, engineering as well as the banking and financial sectors attended the seminar.