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AFCFTA : “This is the best time to do business in Africa! “

Gathered on June 22 by the business firm AB & David Africa, several African public and private decision-makers recalled the key role played by continental service providers in supporting businesses – An issue that is more relevant than ever at a time when the AfCTA is being deployed.

By Dounia Ben Mohamed

For the CEO of the Kenyan Bidco Group, Vimal Shah, a seasoned pan-African entrepreneur invited to participate in the event, “there is no better time to do business in Africa.” Indeed, the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) last January has opened new horizons for economic operators on the continent; a viewpoint shared by the vast majority of public and private actors gathered for the occasion.

Organized on June 22 under the theme “The role of continental service providers and the objectives of the AfCFTA,” the meeting was both in person ( in Accra and Nairobi) and virtual. Public officials and entrepreneurs shared views on their respective commitments and the opportunities offered by this emerging common market, while outlining the possible contours of a “new Africa”. 

Dr. Francis Mangeni, Head of Trade Promotion and Programs of the AfCFTA, set the tone at the outset: “We are here to ensure social and economic development and well-being for all, so that no one is left behind, and that is why we created the AfCFTA! “

“Many studies confirm that companies that use professional services are more competitive than those that do not”

But to “decode” the functioning of this new market and take full advantage of the opportunities it offers, companies need to be effectively supported. “Many studies confirm that companies that use professional services are more competitive than those that do not,” said Dr. Mangeni. Isabel Boaten, Managing Partner of AB & David Ghana, who attended the panel discussion, said ;”African companies need to understand how the AfCFTA, the emerging multi-trillion-dollar private sector investment framework, will work and how current global trends will impact on business opportunities. ” 

The ABDA business law firm – which anchors its pan-African dimension with 6 main offices (Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Mauritius), 26 managing partners, 110 lawyers and a network of partner firms in 24 countries – has a clear objective in this respect: to become a point of contact for those who want to take advantage of the AfCFTA to expand their activities on the continent.

“The AfCFTA has great potential Not all African companies are fully aware of the potential”

However, “[…] as lawyers, this is where we need to play an active role. We need to advise companies on the opportunities available, show them that we are united – African.  Expanding businesses face multi-jurisdictional issues and that require the assistance of lawyers across the continent.” 

To achieve this goal, ABDA will be able to rely on a strengthened expertise and team, such as the renowned Kenyan law firm Oraro & Company Advocates – a market leader with more than 44 years of experience in East Africa that was announced on June 22 as the newest full affiliate of the ABDA continental network. 

 “African lawyers are evolving with the continent”

A strategic union in more ways than one, according to Pamella Ager, Managing Partner at Oraro & Company Advocates. For the business lawyer, “the pan-African presence of ABDA, [the] entry into the ABDA group as an affiliate helps to send the message that African lawyers are evolving with the continent, that African lawyers are on the ground, understand and have the solutions to emerging legal problems businesses face.” 

David Ofosu-Dorte, Founder and Senior Partner of ABDA, called for the “AfCFTA to be at the center of [the] value proposition structuring business in Africa.” 

“International service providers are called upon to be agents of change”

The confidence in providing services to African businesses that is visibly shared: lyrical, Dr. Mangeni closed his speech by urging international service providers to “be agents of change, supporting the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as a force for good.”

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