Africa is poised for tremendous growth over the next half-century. With a population set to double to 2.4 billion by 2050, the continent has infrastructure and commercial sectors that are undergoing rapid development. Our Africa practice is helping our clients – in Africa and worldwide – to lead this transformation.

Chambers Global ranks Orrick as a leading firm for Projects & Energy, Corporate/Commercial and Dispute Resolution. We play a role in virtually every major project underway on the continent today. Our clients include all types of market participants – development banks, commercial lenders, sponsor groups, multinational corporations, governments, funds and other private investors. Our work spans the continent’s energy, infrastructure, natural resources, large-scale agriculture complexes, telecommunications, technology and financial sectors.

Our team is based in Paris, London, New York, Washington, D.C., Beijing, Hong Kong and Abidjan. In 2014, we took the pioneering step of establishing an affiliated office in Côte d'Ivoire, operating as Orrick RCI. Unique for an international law firm in Western Africa and the OHADA Zone, the opening of this office coincided with the African Development Bank’s return to its headquarters in Abidjan.

Over the years, we have also built a first-class network of tested local law firms in African countries where our clients do business. We collaborate closely with these firms on transactions, and also benefit from regular dialogue on the latest local market trends and legislative and regulatory changes. In addition, in certain major jurisdictions such as Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria, we have entered into special collaboration arrangements with top-tier firms and leading practitioners to support clients’ recurrent projects.

Our Africa team is inspired by the vision articulated by Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank: "To light up and power Africa, to feed Africa, to industrialize Africa, to integrate Africa and to improve the quality of life of the people of Africa."

Here are some ways we are contributing to that vision, together with our clients.

Projects and Project Finance

We are advising on the most significant and innovative projects underway across the continent today. Chambers Europe 2017 notes that clients praise our team: "They know the African market very well." The Grand Inga Dam project is an example. When the company behind the Grand Inga project pulled out in 2012, a 70-year-long dream of the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) almost disappeared overnight. Our team, on behalf of the government of the DRC, worked relentlessly over the next two years to achieve the improbable: getting the parties to come to the table and craft a framework that aligned the interests of the DRC, South Africa and the development banks involved – and attract additional private investment. Today, the project is in its first phase and closer to reality than ever. When complete, the dam will have over twice the power production of the Three Gorges Dam on China’s Yangtze River.

  • We are involved in a wide range of other projects in the power/renewables, infrastructure, oil and gas, and natural resources sectors. These projects involve investors based throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas and Asia. Recent highlights include:

    • Assisted the pan-African multilateral financial institution Africa Finance Corporation in a landmark investment that will accelerate several major transport and industrial projects in the Gabon Special Economic Zone SA (GSEZ), one of the biggest industrial parks in sub-Saharan Africa
    • Acting on all energy matters for Cameroonian energy flagship ENEO, owned by Actis and the Republic of Cameroon
    • Assisting the World Bank, federal government of Somalia and major oil companies, such as Tullow Oil, Angola LNG, Maersk Oil and Falcon Oil & Gas, on various oil and gas development projects
    • Advised on the development, financing and construction of the 102 MW Copperton Windfarm in South Africa
    • Advised on the first FLNG facility in the African market and one of the first worldwide on behalf of Golar LNG
    • Advised Exxaro Resources, one of South Africa’s largest diversified mining companies, on its combination of mining, mineral separation and smelting mineral sands operations with proprietary pigment-making technology
    • Acting for commodity-trading firm Engelhart in executing structured commodity transactions across Africa, including in Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania
    • Represented the Republic of Guinea as lead counsel in reviewing and renegotiating 20 major mining conventions and concessions; the review process successfully concluded in April 2016
    • Advising Gécamines, a major world copper assets and reserves owner, in numerous strategic alliances and joint ventures with global mining players and in the development of new mining plants and associated power and infrastructure components in the DRC

    In addition, we advise some of the most active private equity funds focused on African energy and infrastructure, including Helios Investment Partners, Leap Frog Investments and Adlevo Capital.

    Telecommunications and Technology

    We act for all major stakeholders in the development of the telecommunications and tech sectors. We recently advised the Overseas Private Investment Corporation in connection with a loan to a telecommunications conglomerate of 17 affiliated borrowers providing cable, satellite and internet services in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mauritius and United Arab Emirates (Fujairah Free Zone). Other clients in the Africa telecoms space include Millicom, Eutelstat and CANAL+.

    We’re also deeply involved in the development of Africa’s ecommerce market, and have advised venture capital firms, private equity investors and companies making strategic acquisitions and investments in areas from mobile money markets to online video platforms.

    Capital Markets and Finance

    Our teams play a pioneering role in assisting market participants and regional market authorities that shape local and regional financial and capital markets. In West Africa, for example, we worked with the regional financial market authority CREPMF, which covers 8 WAEMU countries, and the West African Development Bank on the preparation and enactment of common regulations to WAEMU countries relating to securitization, covered bonds and the establishment of a regional mortgage refinancing agency.

    Other recent work includes:

    • Representing major international commercial banks in the context of the partial guarantee approved by the African Development Bank to cover the payment obligations of the Republic of Cameroon related to the cross currency swaps executed with the banks to hedge the proceeds of a $750 million Eurobond
    • Advising the Kingdom of Morocco on a $1 billion issue
    • Assisting various international financial institutions and multinational corporations with derivatives agreements
    • Advising arrangers and originators on the securitization of various classes of assets (e.g., sovereign debts, commercial receivables)
    • Representing investors and various market participants with respect to commercial real estate financings and refinancings, including through securitization structures

    Dispute Resolution

    Chambers Global 2017 praises our International Arbitration team’s "distinguished presence across francophone jurisdictions of Africa, with noteworthy expertise in the telecommunications, construction and mining sectors." Our team represents parties in some of the largest arbitrations underway, governed by the rules of ICSID, ICC and UNCITRAL, among others, and conducted in English and French.

    We represent the Republic of Guinea in various ICSID arbitrations, including a $5 billion arbitration launched by Beny Steinmetz Group Resources over withdrawal of a concession to mine due to allegations of widespread bribery. In other ICSID arbitrations, we represent both businesses and investors, including two investors in the first ICSID arbitration brought against the Republic of Mauritania, relating to a mining permit.

    In other dispute resolution work, we have:

    • Represented a Tunisian company in a dispute with a European consortium relating to the modernization of a railway – under ICC Arbitration Rules and governed by French law
    • Acted for an American company in dispute with an Algerian state-owned company relating to the construction of a gas-liquefication plant – under ICC Arbitration Rules and governed by Algerian law
    • Assisted a Tunisian company in a dispute against an Italian company relating to the construction of a flour mill – under the ICC Arbitration Rules, in French
    • Acted for a French company in a litigation relating to the installation of turbines in an energy-production plant in Algeria – under the ICC Arbitration Rules, seated in Geneva
    • Represented an oil company that was in a dispute with an African state relating to the remediation of offshore oil sites – under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, seated in Rome

    We bring to dispute resolution, as to all of our work in Africa, a strong combination of technical skills, market knowledge, and local and international relationships.

    Our Commitment to the Community

    We are honored to partner with social enterprises devoted to empowering Africa. We are representing The Nature Conservancy in connection with an innovative project to develop a series of solar power plants in Kenya, the proceeds of which will finance nature conservancies and game reserves. We helped secure impact financing for Greenlight Planet – a social enterprise that develops and manufactures solar products designed to help people living off the electric grid – and likewise assisted MercyCorps in its impact investment into New Light Africa Limited, a company that sells solar lights. And we are corporate counsel to NewGlobe Schools, a corporation that brings education to families living on less than $2 a day, including in emerging markets such as Kenya, through smartphones and tablets. We also work closely with Indego Africa, an organization devoted to women’s entrepreneurship and with Water.org.

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