Vance Center Launches Workshops for Government Lawyers in Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Kenya

March 2021

In partnership with the East Africa Energy Program and Nigeria Power Sector Program of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Vance Center convened the first in a series of workshops for government lawyers in Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia on complex financial transactions in the international energy sector. The virtual professional development program fulfills the Vance Centers’ commitment to support USAID and Power Africa in their efforts to improve the capacity of government legal support to energy project development, financing, and contracting in sub-Saharan Africa.

Four international law firms: Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Baker McKenzie, Linklaters, Sullivan & Cromwell;, and 15 law firms in Nigeria: Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie, George Etomi & Partners, Olaniwun Ajayi, Aluko & Oyebode, AELEX; Ethiopia: Mehrteab Leul & Associates, Mesfin Tafesse & Associates Law, Lidet Abebe & Associates Law Office, Aman Assefa & Associates Law Office. Tameru Wondm Agegnehu Law Office; and Kenya: TripleOKLaw, Anjarwalla & Khanna, Oraro & Company Advocates, Bowmans Kenya, Gikera and Vadgama Advocates; joined to plan and conduct the workshops.

The first workshop topics included project finance, financial close in energy project development and financing, renewable projects under the IPP model, dispute resolution, public-private partnerships, energy sector agreements, and financial model process in building and analyzing financial models. The law firms worked together to present these topics to an audience of 172 government lawyers from various agencies and institutions in the three countries: Nigeria (75), Kenya (57), and Ethiopia (40).

USAID representatives provided opening remarks: Lauren Russell, Power Africa Environment Officer and the Vance Center’s Agreement Officer Representative; Williams Madara, USAID’s Kenya Energy Program Management Specialist; Samson Atsbha, USAID’s Ethiopia Energy Program Manager and Specialist; and Tunde Gbajumo, Deputy Chief of  Party Power Africa Nigeria Power Sector Program. They reiterated the importance of the workshops, the unique partnership that aligns local experience with international best practices, and the cross-pollination of ideas for the law firms and government lawyers across countries. They also emphasized the need for private sector support in strengthening the energy sector in sub-Saharan Africa.

The level of participation in the program so far, as well as attendee and Power Africa feedback, demonstrated the effectiveness of the program, which will continue through the end of May 2021.

Power Africa is a U.S. Government initiative, coordinated by USAID, comprised of about 160 public and private partners that have committed $54 billion to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. The Power Africa Legal Fellows Program is a Vance Center initiative that brings lawyers practicing energy law in African law firms to work for up to one year in New York law firms to gain experience and contacts in international energy law.