The expansion of African economies and the increase in investment and trade across the continent has awakened a major interest in the potential of the African legal market. In a report published at the end of February 2015, Redstone Consultants said:
“Africa is rapidly becoming the most magnetic part of the world for companies, investors and their advisers. Eighteen months ago we interviewed Global law firms about their work in Africa and their plans for building on this in the future. In revisiting these firms, we have found a substantial sea change. Firms that have been investing in Africa for years are realising that competition is heating up. Newcomers are getting Board level commitment to plans and investments.
Over the past 3 years, more than half our Africa respondents have experienced growth rates in excess of 25%, with a significant number doubling or more in size over this period. Optimism is high. The majority expect this growth to continue or even accelerate. Only in South Africa is there a sense that growth may slow – or even reverse in the domestic market. This of course is providing a spur to South African firms to expand into other African jurisdictions.”
The excitement is not limited to law firms. The so-called ‘emergence of Africa’ has also been the focus of activity and competition amongst leading arbitral institutions, including the ICC International Court of Arbitration (“the ICC”), and a growing number of national and regional arbitration centres in Africa.