By Beth Ngugi
African Legal Network (ALN) is expecting to hold its annual international conference on 5th to 6th October this year in Dubai, with the aim of connecting Africa with its international markets.
ALN is an independent alliance of leading law firms in Africa that offers added value through its understanding of how business operates in the relevant jurisdictions.
The conference is used by the giant firm as a platform for connecting investors and other stakeholders by giving them an opportunity to hold discussions and address various topics significant to Africa and the Gulf.
“Due to Africa’s improving economy and democracy, we are noticing a growing figure of delegates attending the conference each year not just from Africa but also from countries outside of Africa and the UAE, hence a good move for Africa and a sign of rapid growing interest from global investors to invest in Africa. This year in particular we expect to welcome more delegates from the US and Asia,” Mr. Karim Anjarwalla, the managing partner, Anjarwalla& Khanna, said.
Among the issues to be addressed in the forum include; discussing the greatest opportunities for foreign investment in Africa, raising capital in Africa, talent in Africa and risk management.
Prior to other investment forums, this Forum will feature an exclusive presentation by McKinsey & Co from their upcoming report titled “Lions on the move II: Realizing the potential of Africa’s economies” that will showcase how the continent’s 700 largest companies can elevate their game for the benefit of customers, employees, shareholders and entire economies as well as highlight the USD 4 trillion opportunity to serve fast growing Africa consumer and business market.
It will also bring to light the progress made to date as well as address the challenges that still exist while doing business in Africa.
In the midst of the Chinese firms having significant influence on the African continent, Anjarwalla says Chinese investment is likely to open up the investment opportunities available across the continent. “On day one of the conference, the panel session; ‘Managing Risk in Africa’ in particular, will explore these themes and the Chinese conundrum in more detail.”
According to Action Aid, the major challenge facing African states is Tax ‘dodging’ by big companies that take away income from some of the poorest countries in Africa. In line with the statement, ,Anjarwalla says that African countries may need to strengthen their tax regime to seal revenue loopholes.
“Many African countries believe that the recent initiatives spearheaded by the OECD relating to the Common Reporting Standards (CRS) and Country-by-Country Reporting by MNEs will significantly improve reporting of profits in African countries. But still I believe African countries themselves need to do more to strengthen the revenue policy,” he noted.
The private players are also increasingly offering viable alternatives in terms of increasing access to address electricity and credit facilities through off-grid self-contained electrical systems or peer to peer credit platforms.
“Having a private alternative will offer consumers a choice and also increase healthy competition hence seeing reduced prices and better quality of service. The panel session ‘TMT and Innovations’ will specifically look at how such private sector alternatives are helping to address some of the trade and development failings that governments are grappling with.” Mr Anjarwalla explained.
He added that with the passing of a Business Registration Service Act in Kenya, legislation of companies and bankruptcy processes are now modernized thus boosting the manufacturing and export potential for companies seeking to benefit from Kenya’s skilled work force.
Also in the move to bring back public and investors’ confidence in terms of tackling corruption in Kenya, Kenya and US officials are collaborating on the creation of a special investigative unit, focusing on cross-border crimes involving corruption.
Curbing corruption which is one of the major wounds hurting Kenyan economy among others in Africa will improve people’s lifestyle; bring stable economy, modern infrastructures and also the quality of the products and services among job creation.
Key speakers and panelist to address the forum include Former Malian Prime Minister and ALN Chairman Dr. Cheick Modibo Diarra, said, UAE Minister for Culture, Youth and Social Development His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, International Enterprise Singapore Director Jaya Gopalakrishnan, Former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer and Centum CEO James Mworia.
The platform, now in its third year, target is to attract a larger audience than the previous years, with more high-caliber public officials and big business executives.