Germany: Inaugural Africa Day In Frankfurt – 14 May 2019

Last Updated: 3 June 2019
Article by Tobias Faber

Germany has enjoyed a fruitful investment history with many of the 54 countries making up the diverse continent that is Africa. For years Germany has sought to strengthen those investment bonds and deepen cooperation.

As part of our everyday contact with our valued clients many of them told us that although Africa presented significant hurdles it was rife with opportunity.

Therefore, in an effort to further develop the already well respected Hogan Lovells Africa Practice, the Frankfurt based members consisting of Dr Tobias Faber (IERP) and Camilla Fröhlich (IERP) successfully hosted Africa Day in Frankfurt on 14 May 2019 – a first of its kind in our Frankfurt office.

This saw a coming together of attendees from the:

  • ever-growing Africa investment market,
  • financial institutions and numerous infrastructure and development organisations
  • project developers and EPC Contractors
  • journalists focused on the African market.

Some of the attendees took the opportunity to chat with our experts during the early morning sessions, gaining first insights into their many years of expertise related to successful projects in Africa.

Guest presenters included:

  • Hogan Lovells partners from our Paris, Washington and London offices who talked about a wide-range of Africa-related topics. There were contributions to "Why Africa Matters" and how to "Develop bankable power projects in Africa". DEG (the Deutsche Invesititions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH) General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer Markus Gabbert provided the audience with a very informative overview of development finance within the continent as a whole and within various selected countries specifically.
  • HL Partner Thomas Kendra, who was instrumental in establishing the Kigali Arbitration Centre in Rwanda, delivered a workshop on "Arbitration and dispute Avoidance in Africa",
  • HL Partner Arun Velusami and Washington based Senior Counsel Thomas Hechl provided the audience with vital information on "Mitigating risk in African power projects".
  • Hogan Lovells' pro bono/Social Enterprise partners, UK-based Blue Ventures, shared their extraordinary story of rebuilding tropical fisheries with local coastal communities in, amongst other countries, Madagascar. This NGO has grown from strength to strength since its first project 15 years ago in Madagascar and has now established various programs such as blue forests (conservation of mangroves and seagrass) and aquaculture (sea cucumber and seaweed) in for example the Western Indian Ocean or Southeast Asia.

One of the biggest lessons learned and shared by our esteemed panel was the importance of having a strong local partner. Our experts shared how having an indigenous local company as a partner has proven time and again to be either the greatest strength or the greatest weakness to a project and how it is, therefore, vital to conduct thorough due diligence of a local partner who will most likely be responsible for resolving land issues, obtaining the required permit and dealing direction with government. In addition the role of Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) in structuring complex finance and promoting development was explained by Mr Gabbert of the DEG.

Almost as valuable as the content shared during the event was the networking opportunity thereafter that was afforded to all attendees – this saw various attendees agree to meet later in the week to discuss possible deals and joint collaborations with one another. Tobias and Camilla concluded: "This was a very successful first event. We could feel the momentum and the positive spirit in the room. This is only the start of an exciting Africa journey for Hogan Lovells in Germany."

In light of the success of this event it has been planned to hold a similar function in 2020 as well as to circulate quarterly Africa newsletters.

Next up for the Africa Practice is the Africa Forum that is held yearly in London and which will take place on 3 July 2019.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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