Africa Legal Podcast

Africa Legal

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Episodes

Ubuntu Mental Health:Overcoming imposter syndrome   with Dr Mathero Michelle Nkhalamba
3d ago
Ubuntu Mental Health:Overcoming imposter syndrome with Dr Mathero Michelle Nkhalamba
In this third episode of the Ubuntu Mental Health Matters Series with Dr Mathero Michelle Nkhalamba, she speaks with Thomas Pearson about imposter syndrome, a mental health condition facing many in the legal industry. The competitive nature of the legal profession and the constant need to demonstrate expertise exacerbate feelings of inadequacy, often making even the most skilful lawyer feel like an imposter. Renowned chartered psychologist Dr Mathero Michelle Nkhalamba explains that imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon where people who are professional and capable doubt themselves and their accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud. She has found that it presents itself commonly among people in professions that are hypercompetitive, highly skilled or societally well regarded. “The unique thing about the legal profession is that it’s really high stakes. It’s hyper competitive, very visible and a transparent profession. It’s a career that can expose you to a lot of criticism or a lot of praise. That puts the pressure [on one] to feel, ‘Well, am I good enough or do I even belong in this space?’ and that increases your anxiety.” The symptoms of imposter syndrome, says Nkhalamba, manifest through feelings of inadequacy. One of the ways to help manage and prevent this, is to normalise failure. “It’s not only in your professional life; even in your personal life you have to be okay with failing sometimes and understanding that failure is not a major setback. You’re just trying to learn something new about yourself and improve.” Every failure – including those in the legal profession – is a learning process, she says. “Shut down the voice and remind yourself that, ‘Yes, I have had failures, I’ve had setbacks, but I’ve also had achievements.’ Acknowledge them and accept positive feedback,” she added Nkhalamba advises that having a mindset of continual learning helps to deal with this condition. The insightful conversation between Nkhalamba and Pearson includes information on how employers can help break the imposter syndrome mindset in the workplace and why the host and the guest of this podcast should not be allowed on the golf course!
'Exploring Mali’s evolving mining landscape' with Mamadou Coulibaly, Satis Partners
15-02-2024
'Exploring Mali’s evolving mining landscape' with Mamadou Coulibaly, Satis Partners
In this Coffee Break episode, Africa Legal’s Tom Pearson chats to Mamadou Coulibaly, co-founder and managing partner of Satis Partners, about the shift in Mali’s mining regulations. Recent bold changes to Mali’s mining regulations aim to boost the West African country’s economy while empowering local communities. Mamadou Coulibaly, a seasoned lawyer at Satis Partners sheds light on these changes that have unfolded since the 2020 political shift. Following the regime change and national dialogue, one key resolution was to enhance revenue generation for Malians from the lucrative gold and ore mining sector. To achieve this goal, Mali's mining code underwent significant adjustments, levelling the playing field for all stakeholders. Previously, the mining code offered varied incentives for different operations. Now, as Coulibaly notes, the revised code standardises regulations. Notable changes include increased government participation in mining activities, a revised tax regime, and mandates for 90% of the workforce to comprise local employees. Importantly, Coulibaly emphasises that these shifts reflect an international trend, with other West African nations embracing similar principles for promoting local content. Coulibaly encourages investors to explore opportunities in smelting, processing and refining enterprises, as extractives need to be refined before being exported. Additionally, he highlights the potential in training programs. As local workforce participation becomes mandatory, there's a growing demand for specific skills. These two areas, Coulibaly suggests, could provide interesting opportunities in the years ahead.
'Connecting investors and destinations through financial strategies' with Asafo & Co
04-02-2024
'Connecting investors and destinations through financial strategies' with Asafo & Co
In this podcast hosted by Tom Pearson, Jamal Fofana and Benoît Diouf from Asafo & Co. discuss the dynamic and evolving banking and finance sector across Africa. Leading law firm Asafo & Co. is influencing positive change and growth through its innovative legal and financial strategies and solutions. Jamal Fofana, a founding member of Asafo & Co., has rejoined the firm with his blended experience gained both as in-house counsel and in private practice, equipped with a mix of legal skills required for banking, finance and project development practices in Africa. Fofana says Asafo offers legal services on the ground that bring together their technical skills as a global firm, together with an unparalleled understanding of specific considerations involved in the African market and the pragmatism needed to close deals. Benoît Diouf, who joined the firm in 2021, shares his insights into the banking and finance sector, and speaks about what sets the firm apart. Promoting financial inclusion is a top priority in this sector, he says. “The banking sector is a key factor to the development of our continent and we need a strong banking system with less barriers to enable and support the development of impactful intra-African trade. We know there is a need to adapt the banking regulations across the continent to facilitate capital movement and enhance the capabilities of our banking industries,” Diouf said. Fofana and Diouf, both advocates for local currency funding, are of the view that when it comes to larger scale infrastructure projects, creating a bridge of both awareness and facilitation between existing capital markets and Africa's demand is required. Fofana shares the firm’s commitment to West Africa and adds that they are one of the few firms in the region with legal professionals in the banking & finance sector, and have been involved in a number of recent landmark transactions. The experts further discuss the merits of going into securitisation and increasing the awareness of individuals willing to invest in local notes, thus having an impact on the region. The conversation wraps up with Fofana and Diouf sharing interesting takeaways from the annual Africa Securitisation Forum, which Asafo & Co. co-organised with Deloitte for the second consecutive year in November 2023 in Lomé, Togo.
'Raising the bar in the Kenyan real estate market' with TripleOKLaw and Hayer One Dec 2023
14-12-2023
'Raising the bar in the Kenyan real estate market' with TripleOKLaw and Hayer One Dec 2023
In this podcast, Tom Pearson chats to Tom Onyango and Chetan Hayer, the experts at the forefront of Kenya’s internationally recognised real estate development, The Marquis. Leading Kenyan law firm TripleOKLaw LLP has collaborated with Hayer One, a property development company, to deliver a landmark residential property in Nairobi, The Marquis. Recognised for its architectural design, superior build quality, ultra-modern finishes and a range of amenities, The Marquis has set new standards in the Kenyan property development sector. Chetan Hayer, the CEO of Hayer One, says their vision was to create a desirable, high-value real estate development to cater for those who want to experience a high-end lifestyle. What’s more, Hayer says that the entire project, from start to finish, has been delivered by Kenyans for Kenyans through Kenyan financing. “It is the people of Kenya who, through their hard work, their skill and, most importantly, their resilience, have shown to the rest of the world that we can produce an extremely high, Grade A quality residential development in the heart of Nairobi which, when you put it next to any Grade A development in any other developed city in the world, would compete very well,” Hayer shared. Tom Onyango, a senior partner at TripleOKLaw, has a wealth of experience and insight into the legal intricacies of real estate development and worked alongside Hayer on The Marquis. Onyango says having a reputable developer, ensuring the proper title documents and approvals are in place, and understanding the interest rates when borrowing for purchase, should be among the key considerations for investors. He adds that when it comes to legislative changes, further clarity is needed on taxation, and he explains why better financing models are needed for buyers who want to purchase properties sold off plan. He says the legal team at TripleOKLaw is uniquely positioned to assist in the success of real estate projects in Kenya because of the team’s dedicated resources, and explains that the firm’s aim is to minimise the risks and ensure the projects succeed. The conversation wraps up with Hayer sharing his future development plans.
Ubuntu Mental Health:Employees’ mental wellbeing is an asset with Dr Mathero Michelle Nkhalamba
06-12-2023
Ubuntu Mental Health:Employees’ mental wellbeing is an asset with Dr Mathero Michelle Nkhalamba
In the second episode of the Ubuntu Mental Health Matters Series with Dr Mathero Michelle Nkhalamba, she speaks with Thomas Pearson about self care and coping mechanisms. There are various ways to mitigate the impact of trauma and help process it safely, says Dr Mathero Michelle Nkhalamba, an esteemed chartered psychologist from Malawi. One of these is through vicarious resilience – listening to peers in the workplace who have gone through a traumatic experience, and being inspired by their mental ability to overcome a stressful situation. However, although peer support is helpful as this can be encouraging, she says it could also lead to a toxic workplace culture if there is no balance, especially if success is achieved to the detriment of one's mental health and welfare. Nkhalamba warns against pushing towards an unhealthy extreme where winning is prioritised instead of a person’s wellbeing. Instead, she encourages peer support that involves teaching and mentorship as this is more empowering. Nkhalamba dispels the notion that perfectionism is a positive trait, as it is an unsustainable standard. “It really is a relentless drive for a standard that you will never meet. It's also very personal, because you judge yourself based on that standard, on your ability to reach this standard. A lot of people who are perfectionists often present with issues of anxiety, depression, because they're always worried,” she explains. In the podcast she provides detailed advice for self care practices, such as exercise, nutrition and sleep which are fundamental to good brain health, and recommends having a sleep ritual. Browsing through your cell phone or reading a book while in bed could stimulate the brain, instead of relaxing it, she says. Nkhalamba points out that the choice of food also impacts your quality of sleep and suggests eating lighter meals in the evenings. Emphasising that nutrition and exercise are the cornerstones of mental health, Nkhalamba explains that exercise restores the balance between physiology and hormones. “What you do to your body and what you put into your body has a direct impact on your brain,” she shares. Debriefing is another coping mechanism. “It’s talking about how you have been impacted, acknowledging what you're feeling and discussing how you could deal with it,” explains Nkhalamba. The hour-long conversation wraps up with Nkhalamba talking Tom through live mindfulness techniques which are sure to get even the most anxious person relaxed.
'Reducing REC's Environmental Footprint' with Nicole Gichuhi, ALN Kenya
20-11-2023
'Reducing REC's Environmental Footprint' with Nicole Gichuhi, ALN Kenya
In this episode of the Breaking Ground, Breaking Barriers podcast series focusing on East Africa’s real estate and construction landscape, Nicole Gichuhi, a partner at ALN Kenya | Anjarwalla & Khanna chats to Tom Pearson about Africa’s development in the sustainability era. The real estate and construction sector is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, but sustainability practices such as using energy efficient building designs and materials, are actively reducing the industry's environmental footprint in Africa, and are helping to mitigate climate change and preserve ecosystems. Nicole Gichuhi, who represents leading players in high value real estate transactions at ALN Kenya | Anjarwalla & Khanna, has noted a heightened awareness on the responsible use of land. This conscientious approach, she says, is not just driven by governments and legislation, but also by the industry, which is taking collective responsibility to protect the environment. In the residential market, Gichuhi highlights that sustainable buildings often have higher market values, driven by the increasing demand for houses with natural lighting and efficient insulation, because it ultimately lowers their energy consumption. “Sustainable buildings could lead to cost savings in the long run. Energy efficient buildings consume less energy, have lower utility bills, maintenance and operations costs. Over time, you'd be able to see that the cost savings can actually outweigh the initial investment.” Gichuhi shares that sustainable real estate developments can also benefit from using locally sourced and sustainable building materials, thus making it more affordable. She further explains how African governments are adopting environmentally friendly practices, and offers her views on what approach should be taken going forward, including that she believes incentives and tax benefits should be on the cards. Gichuhi says their firm plays a legal advocacy role when it comes to its relations with the Kenyan government, including providing detailed comments during the public participation phase of legislative decision making processes. In addition, the firm also forges partnerships with other stakeholders such as the Green Building Society. She believes there's a lot that can be learned from Kenya’s eco-friendly legislation when it comes to sustainable buildings, emphasising the potential for cross-cultural inspiration, citing the Maasai people as an example of a tribal community with insights that could contribute to sustainable practices.
Ubuntu Mental Health:Getting to grips with mental health literacy with Dr Mathero Michelle Nkhalamba
20-11-2023
Ubuntu Mental Health:Getting to grips with mental health literacy with Dr Mathero Michelle Nkhalamba
In this first episode of this Ubuntu Mental series with Dr Mathero Michelle Nkhalamba speaks with Thomas Pearson about the need for mental health literacy and understanding vicarious trauma. Traditionally, the legal profession has normalised stress as part of its “tough it out” culture, because talking about mental health matters is considered a sign of weakness. However, overwhelming research has shown that there are higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression than before among lawyers, and there isn't a safe space to talk about it. The first step is understanding the terminology and vocabulary used to describe how people are feeling, which is why mental health literacy is important, says Dr Mathero Michelle Nkhalamba, a renowned clinical psychologist from Malawi. “If you can't name what's happening inside you, you cannot focus on remedying the things that are causing you that distress.” Nkhalamba says a good place to start talking about mental health literacy is at undergraduate law school level, as this will prepare young lawyers for the work and time-intensive environment that lies ahead of them. She points out that the culture of always having to grind with no time for rest, to prove your mettle as a lawyer, needs to be replaced with one that includes self care practices and normalising being tired. She comments that racking up billable hours will count for little when productivity is eventually compromised. Nkhalamba warns that stress has long term chronic effects such as hypertension, certain cancers, skin irritations and insomnia. She also explains in detail how the body reacts to stress and why it is deemed an occupational hazard. Delving into another key topic, Nkhalamba unpacks what vicarious trauma is, the neurobiology of trauma and the signs and symptoms of the condition. Interestingly, Thomas highlights a study that shows that playing Tetris can interrupt the response to trauma. The episode wraps up with Nkhalamba offering advice on what can be done to address stress and trauma regardless of the lack of infrastructure around mental health well-being available.
Coffee Break ...with Manakore Attorneys - 'Sunshine is good news for energy investors'
07-11-2023
Coffee Break ...with Manakore Attorneys - 'Sunshine is good news for energy investors'
In this Coffee Break episode, Jabulani Nhongo chats to Tom Pearson about Zimbabwe’s energy supply structure and the exciting opportunities available to foreign investors. Zimbabwe is an attractive destination if you’re looking to invest in the energy sector. With 70% of its power being sourced from geothermal and hydroelectric schemes, and a push towards other cleaner alternatives, businesses will be able to import and service their energy needs from sources other than the country’s national grid. This means independent power producers (IPPs) will play a major role. Jabulani Nhongo, partner at Manakore Attorneys, part of the DLA Piper Network, an expert in mergers & acquisitions and finance, says the power demand in the country is forecast to increase to 3 500 megawatts by 2025. Future capacity increases in generation, Nhongo says, are going to be reliant on foreign investment, which presents key opportunities in the energy sector for investors. He explains that the National Development Strategy has provided a platform for IPPs to contribute to the national energy mix through renewable energy projects. “The government has initiated projects to support 1 000 megawatts worth of solar IPPs. There’s always a lot of sunlight in the country and that means that there’s great potential for solar power projects as well as other renewable energy sources, such as mini hydro and biomass,” Nhongo said. He explains that investors can also take advantage of incentives such as negotiable tax holidays, tax incentives, duty free importation of solar equipment and special dispensations for public projects, which ties into the public–private partnerships that form the basis of the current energy strategy. Nhongo says the Government Implementation Agreement has been designed to attract investment aimed to provide a stable fiscal and policy environment for IPPs. He adds that foreign investors can repatriate their funds from Zimbabwe with ease, based on the exchange control framework coupled with the protection afforded by the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency Act, which seeks to promote and protect foreign investment in the country.
Episode 3 of 'Life and Lessons in Law' with James Kamau, Chair, DLA Piper Africa
24-10-2023
Episode 3 of 'Life and Lessons in Law' with James Kamau, Chair, DLA Piper Africa
In this third instalment of Life and Lessons in Law with James Kamau, Tom Pearson chats to him about the increasingly blurred lines between law and technology. James Kamau, chair of DLA Piper Africa and Managing partner of DLA Piper Africa Kenya, IKM Advocates, has a deep-rooted passion for legal development and upskilling Africa’s legal sector services. He agrees that technology has redefined the legal sector and that, to stay ahead of the rapid pace of digital developments, lawyers not only have to embrace the evolution but also find ways of maximising its benefits. Kamau has been in the industry long enough to have witnessed the transition from using manual typewriters and walking to the post office to send letters to now harnessing the benefits of computer- and web-based programs that provide efficient services to clients. Listing various end solutions that technology can provide to lawyers, Kamau says technology helps to create greater efficiency and therefore profitability in the practice of law and also facilitates greater access to justice. “From a practitioner’s point of view, one has to look at how to create these efficiencies that enable internal collaboration, and collaboration when dealing with clients,” he says. “Like a lot of things in life, you need to be alert and be able to read and understand the developments in the local markets … sometimes you also need to associate with what the international law firms are doing,” he added. There are still many law firms that lack cross-sector engagement with technology, and Kamau puts this down to three factors: the legal profession being conservative and highly regulated, the possibility of today’s chosen technology being outpaced with newer versions by tomorrow, and concerns about quality assurance. Despite these concerns, Kamau says perceptions and attitudes towards intersecting law and technology must change, as this is a significant barrier. “We need to look at technology as an enabler, not as a replacement of the human user, and [understand] that it augments the way we work,” he commented. He adds that firms have no option but to embrace technology, and those that don’t “are going to be left behind” by their competitors. Kamau and Tom further discuss the impact and efficiencies of tech and wrap up the conversation with forward-looking trends – an AI judge, perhaps?
Coffee Break ... with Eversheds Sutherland - 'Big firm, wide reach, strong reputation'
12-10-2023
Coffee Break ... with Eversheds Sutherland - 'Big firm, wide reach, strong reputation'
In this Coffee Break podcast, Africa Legal’s Tom Pearson chats to John Kemkers, about Eversheds Sutherland’s continental footprint. With more than 100 legal experts working on Africa-related mandates, and offices in key jurisdictions such as South Africa, Tunisia, Angola, Mozambique and Mauritius, backed by partners and offices in London, Paris, Dubai and New York, Eversheds Sutherland has a global reach that few law firms can rival. All these offices frequently work in conjunction with a network of alliance firms called Eversheds Southern Africa Alliance (ESAA), which covers a further 30-plus jurisdictions. “We have broad coverage right across the continent,” says John Kemkers, Head of Africa Group for Eversheds Sutherland, whose focus areas include financial services, real estate and energy sectors. Having worked in both the UK and the UAE, Kemkers has managed disputes across the Middle East and Africa, which gives him valuable insights into the legal landscape of the region. “Our Africa work has two categories of work streams: the first is business-as-usual work for many of our global clients, and the second category, is largely generated and serviced by the Africa Group, working in conjunction with our ESAA firms. The main sectors that we are focusing on are in energy infrastructure, financial, TMT (technology, media and telecommunication) industries and consumer services. In terms of our practice areas and service lines, our focus is on corporate M&A projects and project finance and disputes,” Kemkers explained, adding that the team has worked in over 25 jurisdictions in Africa on significant energy and infrastructure projects, particularly in the clean energy space. Working on a continent with a population of 1. 4 billion spread across 54 countries with dozens of languages being spoken, understanding the local laws can be challenging. “In Africa, more than anywhere else, there is no substitute for local knowledge, and that's why we've grown our Africa network the way that we have. The upshot is that we have a genuine alliance which affords us and our clients access to strong, responsive local expertise,” commented Kemkers. He added that the firm’s local law experts are the assets of the firm, enabling Eversheds Sutherland to provide sector- and practice area expertise coupled with cultural awareness and an understanding of the relevant legal and business environments. Kemkers also elaborates on how the firm mitigates risks for their clients in countries with political instability, and further discusses the seamless cooperation between Eversheds Sutherland and their alliance network. He goes on to share a bold step the firm recently took with China’s foremost law firm, King & Wood Mallesons, and unpacks the exclusive cooperation among them – a benefit for clients investing and operating in Africa
'Turning change into opportunity' with Otsile Matlou, ENS
19-09-2023
'Turning change into opportunity' with Otsile Matlou, ENS
In this podcast, Otsile Matlou chats to Africa Legal’s Tom Pearson about the brand refresh at ENS, an African law firm that operates across the eastern, western and southern regions of Africa. To keep ahead of the changes and developments that are sweeping across the world, ENS (previously ENSafrica) is going through a brand refresh. Otsile Matlou, Chief Operating Officer at ENS, explains that their new positioning was spurred by the changes brought on by geopolitics as well as technology. The purpose, Matlou says, is to turn change into opportunity. “We went down a sort of strategic discussion that landed our firm with a new purpose, and it is out of that purpose that we ended up with this brand refresh.” Part of the brand refresh includes dropping the word “Africa” after the ENS acronym. “In 2012, the brand strategy of the firm supported the business strategy which was to ‘continentalise’ our practice. We don't feel that the brand name needs to continue to support the business strategy. We think the brand name needs to support the firm's new purpose, and so the brand name shifts from aligning with the business strategy to linking closely with where the firm is going as a purpose-led organisation. We do, however, maintain our business strategy completely focused on the African continent.” Other features of the brand refresh include embedding technology as a legal service. This will allow leading clients to use active dashboards that showcase the financial aspects of their relationship with the firm, and is one way of moving from a traditional client–attorney relationship to a closer partnership where there's a line of sight on both sides – and predictability. “Our clients can expect a partner firm that is going to infuse our expertise, our skill sets, technology and a bit of social conscience to make sure that we can deliver good products,” says Matlou. He adds that the best way of making sure that lawyers at a large entrepreneurial firm like ENS adopt technology is not just to present the prowess of technology, but also the ease of client service benefits they can get out of it. Matlou emphasises that the success of their firm is dependent on its people who are considered brand or purpose ambassadors. “We believe that our purpose is nimble and dynamic enough to accommodate our diversity. Our brand is designed around this and therefore part of what we are going to do as we roll out the brand refresh, is embedding the firm's values across our business to ensure that there's alignment between the purpose of the organisation, what the brand stands for, and the set of behaviours that people embody on a daily basis to live up to the purpose.”
'Following the money trail' with RPC Law firm and Grant Thornton LLP
18-09-2023
'Following the money trail' with RPC Law firm and Grant Thornton LLP
In this podcast, seasoned asset recovery professionals Alan Williams and Amaechi Nsofor discuss how the illicit flow of funds and assets can be recovered and restored to Africa. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimated that last year a whopping $84 billion was lost through the illicit flow of funds from Africa. To put this figure into context, that's reportedly more than all of the money Africa receives each year in development aid. “If you could tackle this problem, Africa wouldn't need any development aid at all,” said Alan Williams, an experienced commercial litigator at RPC, specialising in banking and finance disputes, often with cross-border implications, and encompassing a wide array of commercial disputes across various sectors. Williams points out that at the centre of this challenging and complex problem are the unscrupulous politicians, officials and business people who pay bribes and involve the banks, along with lawyers and accountants who facilitate the transactions, sometimes unwittingly, but also sometimes knowingly. “It's not just a problem in Africa. You've got a sophisticated and opaque financial system that is enabling these funds to move out of Africa and then remain hidden,” he noted. Amaechi Nsofor, an expert restructuring and insolvency practitioner at Grant Thornton UK, says their key area of focus, and where they’ve seen the most activity around grand corruption and the illicit flow of funds, was with governments. Nsofor calls it sovereign-level stealing from the public purse and hiding those assets outside the countries from which they have been stolen. He notes that while previously, illicit funds would be moved to well known tax haven destinations or countries which had secrecy laws, they are now being channelled to countries within Africa. But it's not all doom and gloom, say the experts; key strategies can help recover stolen funds. “You follow the money and you deploy insolvency tools to secure those assets cross-border and take control of the assets and deal with creditor claims, which will end up with you returning the funds to the ultimate creditors who have lost out,” Nsofor explains. Williams adds that English courts have some of the strongest legal powers globally to take action to preserve assets, such as worldwide freezing orders that prevent parties from diminishing or disposing of their assets. He says collaborating and working with local legal practitioners and professionals in Africa as well as education and awareness around the processes is crucial in the recovery process. The insightful conversation wraps up with Nsofor and Williams sharing their views on what needs to be done to overcome corruption. Nsofor, citing the Credit Suisse scandal and the impact on ordinary Mozambicans, said governments should use their crime fighting agencies to run parallel investigations to those initiated by the UK, and fine local financial institutions found guilty of wrongdoing. “Fundamental to solving this problem is not just taking action in Africa, but it's also raising the bar in London and in other financial centres, and I think that is beginning to happen,” added Williams.
'Fostering diversity, equity and inclusion in law' with August Hill & Associates
12-09-2023
'Fostering diversity, equity and inclusion in law' with August Hill & Associates
Milimo Mumbi and Chimwemwe Banda-Bwalya of leading Zambian law firm August Hill and Associates recently shared their views on diversity, equity and inclusion with Africa Legal’s podcast host Thomas Pearson. August Hill Associate Milimo Mumbi’s outlook on fostering diversity and an inclusive legal environment has been shaped by encounters with people from different ethnic backgrounds, even while at university. What Mumbi found was that differing opinions and suggestions on ways to resolve a problem helped produce solutions quicker, and he has seen that play out in the workplace. He has also noticed that more women are now given a place at the table, allowing them to be key decision makers. Mumbi’s colleague, advocate Chimwemwe Banda-Bwalya, says this wasn’t always the case, and while many law firms have made strides in empowering women, the industry is still dominated by men. Banda-Bwalya attributes this to men being viewed as readily available to put in the long working hours, while women are seen as being bogged down by family affairs. In the podcast, she discusses the importance of mentorship in empowering women in the legal profession. “I've been fortunate enough to have bosses who have been very deliberate about ensuring that I have certain standards to which I work and conduct myself in court,” said Banda-Bwalya. She also praised the late Irene Chirwa Mambilima, the former Chief Justice of Zambia, saying, “She’s changed things for us women. If a woman can stand and lead the whole judiciary, there's so much more that we can do as women.” Mumbi believes inclusion and diversity need to be taught at law schools. He says at the moment these issues are only touched upon and taught as abstract concepts. “No one is speaking to the practicality of what this entails in the legal profession and how students should now ready themselves to actually go and practice that abstract concept that's being taught.” To address this, Mumbi says there should be a mentorship program at university level and opportunities should be created for law students to practically experience this in a workplace. He believes that to create further inclusivity, the industry needs to be more considerate of people with disabilities, encouraging the use of braille and sign language in courtrooms. Banda-Bwalya also shares her views on the next generation of lawyers and how technology will help better serve their clients.
'User-friendly tech that works for you' with George Njorge from Enfinite Solutions
30-08-2023
'User-friendly tech that works for you' with George Njorge from Enfinite Solutions
Legal technology provides a multitude of benefits to lawyers. In this podcast, George Njoroge, a legal tech expert, and Africa Legal’s Tom Pearson explore the evolutions in legal tech and analyse the benefits. Poor record management is often associated with inefficiency and corruption. To change that, George Njoroge, software expert and engineer, has come up with a technology tool that helps busy lawyers and in-house legal officers save time and operational costs, increase efficiencies and make better decisions. Njoroge, is the founder and CEO of Enfinite Solutions, the first company in Kenya to offer a digital legal service platform for organisations. With technology being the driver of efficiency in most aspects, Njoroge says law firms are slowly but steadily adapting to the tech evolution. He says most people don't know exactly what kind of data they hold – and its value – due to poor record keeping. “I keep giving this reference to some of our clients, that you could have a department with 200 files or so, bringing in more business than another department with over 1 000 files. Do you just focus on the good business that you're getting from this one department? Do you hire more people in the department that's increasing your revenue? Most people are not able to tell because they don't have any infrastructure to analyse the data. If you can't analyse – if you can't measure – you can't improve.” Njoroge says there are three metrics that every law firm in Africa should be measuring: understanding how many clients they have and who they are, billing, and the debt to equity ratio. He adds that legal tech has the greatest efficiency potential when it is used to replace repetitive manual tasks such as tracking hourly rates, billing and debt. But what does it take for a law firm that has always done things manually to transition to using technology? Njoroge says his company starts by mapping out the firm’s data, understanding their clients and giving them a scenario where everything is available on one platform. This covers business management, accounting and finance, and the human resources aspect. Another trending topic Njoroge speaks on is that of data protection and security. He discusses why it is important for every lawyer to be aware of the regulations – and why firms need to have robust policies in place to ensure compliance. The conversation wraps up with Njoroge explaining how easy it is for lawyers to make use of Enfinite’s products and services. “Once we do a customisation for the client, they are able to be up and running within two weeks,” he says.
Hogan Lovells General Counsel Series: Ep 1, Part 2 - 'Understanding opportunities and grabbing them'
24-08-2023
Hogan Lovells General Counsel Series: Ep 1, Part 2 - 'Understanding opportunities and grabbing them'
In Part 2 of Hogan Lovells’ new podcast, The Africa GC Series, three leading GCs from some of the world’s largest corporates share their experience and insights regarding external legal advisors, ESG and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. Deepa Vallabh, a partner at international law firm Hogan Lovells, introduces the second episode, in which Hogan Lovells’ former Chair of Africa, Andrew Skipper, now founder and CEO of Polymetis Professional Solutions spoke to Samallie Kiyingi of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Vivian Osayande of Novartis, and Wellington Chimwaradze of Unilever. All the panellists agree that it’s a balance between using in-house capabilities and looking for external advice which costs more but comes with added benefits. Osayande says for her it’s always about asking “What is the most efficient way?” She highlights that in-house people are very internally focused, so there’s the risk of missing trends, whereas external counsel brings agility from working for different industries and can often pinpoint new opportunities – but you must know you can trust their advice. Chimwaradze agrees with the importance of building a trusted panel you can draw on, which is what he’s done. “They (external counsel) are an extension of me,” he said. Moving onto environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) issues, Kiyingi notes that there are many conversations happening about ESG, but that sustainability is the key word. She highlights that for Africa sustainability may mean something different to what it does to the West, and speaks about the way Afreximbank is looking to influence this conversation. Osayande says innovation is crucial in driving sustainability, and notes some examples of this. Chimwaradze points out that he is proud of Unilever’s purposefulness which set the ambition of driving sustainability before it was fashionable to do so, and which sets targets to make sustainable living commonplace across the globe. When it comes to AfCFTA, Kiyingi emphasises that it’s important to be familiar with the agreement and also its origins, reminding listeners that AfCFTA is just one aspect of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 which is the master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future. “How do we build institutions to ensure this works well?” she asks. Kiyingi goes on to point out that a key factor is building awareness of what this trade agreement does, and helping business and government take advantage of that. One way of doing this is through the trade fairs Afreximbank organises. Chimwaradze mentions tradeoffs that are inevitably required with agreements like AfCFTA, and Kiyingi highlights some ways of mitigating those.
'Enhancing Kenya’s private equity and venture capital ecosystem' with Ashitiva Advocates
23-08-2023
'Enhancing Kenya’s private equity and venture capital ecosystem' with Ashitiva Advocates
In this podcast, guests from Ashitiva Advocates LLP, Pinsent Masons and the Nairobi International Financial Centre chat to Africa Legal’s Tom Pearson about the three-way collaboration to woo investors to Kenya – the “Silicon Savannah”. There’s a lot of discussion at the moment around enhancing Kenya’s private investment ecosystem, and the private equity and venture capital roundtable that’s being held on 12 September at the Nairobi Serena Hotel will help advance the conversation. The event is being organised jointly by premier African law firm Ashitiva Advocates LLP which has three commercial centres in Kenya, Pinsent Masons, a purpose led multinational law firm with 26 offices on four continents, and the Nairobi International Financial Centre, a dedicated government agency that creates an efficient and predictable operating environment. In the discussion with Tom, Nelson Ashitiva, Senior Partner at Ashitiva Advocates LLP and an expert in mergers & acquisitions, capital markets and corporate/commercial transactions, says the roundtable is about creating a bridge between investors and opportunities in East Africa. “Africa is ripe with a plethora of investment opportunities, so we are seeking to find out the impediments to the free flow of capital to Africa for purposes of investment. Once we understand those impediments, we will find a way to bridge them through a collaborative effort with all the stakeholders.” Jeddida Ndungu, Acting Director of the Financial Sector Development for the Nairobi International Financial Centre (NIFC) Authority, says their mission is to enhance Nairobi's position as the preferred hub for financial services and innovation. “We are able to leverage our role as a government agency that has been given the powers to provide incentives and also to work with other government agencies to ensure that we provide the best operating environment in the region,” Ndungu explained. She adds that the roundtable will be a good platform for the various stakeholders to be heard and provide solutions that they think the Kenyan government needs to explore and consider to enhance the ecosystem. Oliver Crowley, a partner at Pinsent Masons, specialises in the structuring and establishment of private investment funds across a range of asset classes and multiple jurisdictions. In the podcast, he shares his insights on lessons that could be learned from other regions. “The regime should be as frictionless as possible whilst protecting investors and providing good service providers, and all of that will provide the necessary checks and balances that investors expect to see when they're deploying capital,” he noted. Crowley says while the barriers vary in jurisdictions, the overarching one in particular is uncertainty. Some jurisdictions deal with this better than others, he says. Lisa Botha, a partner at Pinsent Masons who has a track record of advising on high profile transactions and assisting clients across Africa, points out that Mauritius has had substantial success in establishing itself as a financial centre for investment in Africa. “Kenya could provide a fantastic market for East Africa and for investments from Kenya upward bound further than East Africa,” she commented. Ultimately, the roundtable is a great opportunity to collaborate and shape what a successful Kenyan private equity and venture capital ecosystem would look like.
Hogan Lovells General Counsel Series: Episode 1, Part 1 - 'Business leaders, legal experts’
17-08-2023
Hogan Lovells General Counsel Series: Episode 1, Part 1 - 'Business leaders, legal experts’
Hogan Lovells recently launched their new podcast, The Africa GC Series, where leading GCs from some of the world’s largest corporates share their experience and insights. In Episode 1, three panellists focus on the evolving GC role as a business enabler and driver. In seeking to expand their knowledge of what keeps their clients up at night, international law firm Hogan Lovells partnered with Africa Legal to bring together three leading African GC for an extended conversation. Deepa Vallabh introduces the first episode which was hosted by Hogan Lovells’ former Chair of Africa, Andrew Skipper, who is also the founder and current CEO of Polymetis Professional Solutions. For this podcast, Skipper spoke to Samallie Kiyingi of African Export-Import Bank, Vivian Osayande of Novartis, and Wellington Chimwaradze of Unilever. The role of in-house lawyers has evolved in recent years and general counsel can no longer focus on legal risks alone to help their businesses succeed in a rapidly changing marketplace. The trio spoke of how their senior roles now go far beyond offering reactive advice and managing legal risk; instead, modern-day general counsel must be proactive, highly engaged with their business and seen as “enablers” of broader business strategy. For Kiyingi, her role as general counsel goes beyond the expected high-level legal advisory aspects, to making various contributions as and when the business needs it. “What I do on a day-to-day basis, I think, is future-proofing the organisation: thinking strategically about the transactions we’re doing, the risks, the policies we’re pursuing, and where that will put the bank in the next five to ten years.” Osayande concurred. As Head of Legal for Novartis’ Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMA) Operations, her job encompasses the traditional lawyer role – including a large focus on ethics – but also includes conversations around price, access, ESG and speed of delivery. Then there’s the added responsibility of acting as a mentor and guide to the company’s team of 60+ lawyers. Chimwaradze, Vice-President Legal for Unilever Africa, also noted that although all three came from very different industries, there are many commonalities in what they focus on on a day to day basis. “I see myself playing the role of a defender in the team as well as an attacker/offence,” he said. Chimwaradze believes he is a facilitator for what the business wants to achieve, not just a manager of legal risk. “It’s about identifying the issues, depending on what your business wants to do, understanding and appreciating the risks that might be associated with that. But, even more importantly, it is also to understand the opportunities that might lie within those conversations.” Osayande, Chimwaradze and Kiyingi also spoke about building confidence with external counsel, the importance of leadership, business acumen and emotional intelligence, and the growing impact of ESG and climate change. “Beyond your corporate priorities,” said Osayande, “all of us have to be more conscious than ever as to the sustainability of our businesses and accountability for our actions.”
Episode 2 of 'Life and Lessons in Law' with James Kamau, Chair, DLA Piper Africa
07-08-2023
Episode 2 of 'Life and Lessons in Law' with James Kamau, Chair, DLA Piper Africa
In this episode of Life & Lessons in Law, James Kamau, seasoned lawyer and chair of DLA Piper Africa, chats to Africa Legal’s Tom Pearson on how to attract and retain the best legal talent. Globalisation, the rapid advancement of technology and evolving workplace trends are among the reasons why retaining legal talent in Africa is becoming increasingly challenging. James Kamau, chair of DLA Piper Africa and Managing Partner at IKM Advocates (DLA Piper Africa, Kenya), says lawyers are pursuing international opportunities which very few of the local firms can match. “Today's lawyers are much more exposed to developments in emerging areas, which makes these international opportunities very attractive for them, for the corporates and for the international law firms.” With these international offerings becoming a threat to staff retention at local firms, Kamau suggests that local firms diversify their legal service offerings. He points out that the rapid advancement of technology is interrupting the marketplace, and if evolving workplace trends are not considered, there will be a continuous drain of legal human resources in Africa. “You must, therefore, ensure that the evolving workplace trends are attuned to the expectations of this talent. You must put in place agile working practices such as remote working, flexible schedules, cross-functional teams, cross-border collaboration, and then, of course, the use of technology. But you must also approach the learning and development of your people quite differently. You must complement the traditional planning programs with what is now being called the bite-sized learning formats, which includes microlearning,” Kamau explained. So, what does it take to attract and keep the best talent in Africa? Kamau puts it down to being a firm that has a market reputation for caring about the people and ensuring this is backed with a remuneration structure that enables people to have “what we call job satisfaction”. “The one thing that is most overlooked, and yet is the most powerful tool in attracting the best people, is word of mouth. The employees are your greatest ambassadors and it’s therefore critical to have that healthy organisational culture and the employee-supportive policies that make employees talk about you,” he says. In the podcast, Kamau provides further insight on why law will continue to remain a lucrative career option for future generations alongside the other rapidly evolving careers such as digital marketing, artificial intelligence, coding and e-commerce. The conversation wraps up with Kamau sharing his views on how a firm can support its talent, right from being an intern all the way to partner: “If the environment is right, then rising to partnership becomes attractive to this generation.”
'Technology can be a trust enabler' with Fikayo Durosinmi-Etti and ToNote
24-07-2023
'Technology can be a trust enabler' with Fikayo Durosinmi-Etti and ToNote
Legal technology solutions are not about reinventing the wheel, especially if there has been a culture of solving problems in a certain way for the past hundred years. Instead, it is meant to simplify productivity, making things easier and less time consuming, says Fikayo Durosinmi-Etti, CEO of ToNote, a technology company based in Nigeria that focuses on simplifying the way people agree to do business. Fikayo shared the story of his personal experience and that of others who’ve had the unfortunate experience of being misrepresented and having their signatures forged. He says with the right infrastructure and verification systems in place, technology can prevent these occurrences. One of the emerging technologies expediting the trust process is the remote online notarization service. What used to be a very long-winded, paper-based process requiring someone to be physically present, has shifted to a virtual system that makes use of electronic signatures and digitally generated stamps and video conferencing tools. “There are verification features as well, where any document that is generated from the system is accompanied by a transaction certificate and an audit trail that tracks every single change and every single action that takes place on the document. Whoever receives that document can type in the document ID or type in the notary number to verify that the document is indeed authentic and was generated from a credible remote online notary tool,” Fikayo explained. When it comes to adopting innovative tech solutions there can be a lot of resistance, but Fikayo says regulators across the world are starting to understand that technology is their friend. “It is not a replacement for anyone,” he said, “it's just something that empowers and enables you.” Fikayo has been privileged to engage and collaborate with some of the most forward-thinking minds in the Nigerian legal space, including members of the Nigerian Bar Association, the Nigerian Supreme Court and the Nigerian National Judicial Council, the National Assembly and the Presidency. Together with ToNote, they have been able to develop regulatory frameworks that support the use of advanced digital signatures and online notary tools. Jurisdictions across the continent are now embracing technology advancements. “Everybody has a digital transformation plan, and the legal industry will be a part of that transformation. At some point they will reap the benefits of it,” said Fikayo.