Vance Center Africa Program Update

September 2020

The Vance Center’s African Legal Fellows participated in several events to conclude their fellowship year:

  1. The Power Africa Legal Fellows attended a week-long virtual briefing organized by the U.S. Department of Commerce Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP), with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the coordinating agency for Power Africa, and Vance Center’s partner in its Power Africa Legal Fellows Program.

The briefing focused on various policy, regulatory, and transactional issues relating to energy projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. Starting with a forum hosted by Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law, Power Africa Legal Fellows Michael Momoh (Nigeria), Oladimeji Ojo (Nigeria), Cindy Oraro (Kenya), and African Legal Fellow Mashudu Thidiela (South Africa) presented on comparative lessons they learned during their time in New York and the current state of the energy sectors in Kenya and Nigeria.  Power Africa and CLDP teams led sessions for the Fellows focusing on Power Africa’s priorities, progress, challenges, and ongoing transactions in sub-Saharan Africa. The Fellows gained insights on ensuring payment security, factoring in technology risk in a fast-changing renewable energy market, and development finance institutions’ assessment of the bankability of projects in developing countries.

The United States Trade and Development Agency discussed how it achieves impactful outcomes in the renewable energy space, including the criteria they employ and the challenges and mitigation measures in the project preparation processes. The Millennium Challenge Corporation discussed its objectives and eligibility criteria for selecting countries in Africa to work with. The International Trade Administration, and the Development Finance Corporation discussed key issues in the deal pipeline in Sub-Sharan Africa. For example, the DFC team presented salient legal issues relating to the Amandi Gas-to-Power Project in Ghana. Partners for Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, led by Lorraine McGowen, a member of the Vance Center Africa sub-Committee, presented to the Fellows on project finance, private-public partnerships, sovereign debt restructuring, and Orrick’s Africa practice experience. A meeting with the team from Cross Boundary ended the week, and the Fellows had the opportunity to express their appreciation for the briefing in an informal conversation with the Acting Power Africa Coordinator, Mark Carrato.

  1. In other events, Shearman & Sterling, which has hosted Cindy Oraro from Kenya, held a virtual panel presentation for the Fellows to discuss energy law and the financial landscape in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. Antonia Stolper, Vance Center Executive sub-Committee member and Shearman & Sterling partner, and Inosi Nyatta, Vance Center Africa sub-Committee co-chair and Sullivan & Cromwell partner, introduced the panel. Shearman & Sterling associate Akofa Tsiagbe moderated the well-attended event. The Fellows discussed legal markets in their home countries, emerging issues in their practice areas, and their experiences in the United States.
  2. Baker McKenzie, which has hosted Michael Momoh from Georgy Etomi & partners in Nigeria, convened a similar virtual panel to discuss the legal landscape and likely impact of COVID-19 on the legal practice in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. Emeka Chinwuba, Vance Center Africa sub-Committee co-chair and Baker McKenzie partner, introduced the meeting, and Akaego Okoye, the Director of Member Relations of the Corporate Council on Africa, moderated the event. Mashudu Thidiela discussed the entry points for foreign law firms in South Africa and the responses of local and foreign law firms to the COVID-19 pandemic in light of its significant impact in South Africa. Cindy Oraro discussed the regulatory and policy changes that have affected investment in the energy and infrastructure sectors in Kenya. Oladimeji Ojo and Michael Momoh from Nigeria discussed the controversies around virtual court hearings and legal reforms of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, affecting the ease of doing business in Nigeria.