Archives: Public Policy and Government Affairs

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Zimbabwe: Challenges Persist After Fall of Mugabe

Momentous events in Zimbabwe during the last two years inspired hope among many Zimbabweans that they would experience meaningful political change and sustainable economic growth in their lifetimes. In November 2017, former President Robert Mugabe—who ruled Zimbabwe for nearly 40 years—was ousted in a military coup and his former deputy President Emmerson Mnangagwa was installed … Continue Reading

Public-Private Collaboration is Key to Building Africa’s Digital Future

Over the past four decades, three key barriers prevented most Africans from benefitting from the technology innovations and services that have changed the world. First, a failure of leadership led to mismanagement and theft of billions of dollars that should have built the healthcare, education, and other infrastructure and services critical to development. Second, Africa’s … Continue Reading

Can the U.S. and Africa Prosper Together?

Prosper Africa, the core of the Trump administration’s policy, is a state of mind. This is not a criticism. The program is an ambitious effort to get every American political appointee, diplomat, and civil servant engaged on African issues to be on the look-out for commercial opportunities for American businesses and to help American companies … Continue Reading

Ethiopia: Africa’s Next Powerhouse?

Ethiopia’s prime minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed—the youngest African leader at 42 years old—has initiated a series of unprecedented economic and political reforms in his first 12 months in office. The core challenge that he faces is moving the economy from state-led to market-based growth while overseeing far-reaching political reforms. Success is far from guaranteed but his … Continue Reading

Tips for Commercial Success in Africa

With an emerging middle class of 400 million people, 10 of the fastest growing economies globally, and the most youthful population of any region, Africa is a continent of significant opportunity. There are also risks, as there are anywhere, including the challenge of combatting corruption, navigating opaque regulations and developing a skilled workforce. Below are … Continue Reading

Top Ten Issues to Watch in Africa in 2019

Africa’s Growth Prospects. Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow at 3.8 percent in 2019, which is a significant improvement over last year’s regional growth rate of 2.6 percent. Excluding the continent’s largest economies (Angola, Nigeria and South Africa), which are growing collectively at an average of 2.5 percent, the aggregate growth rate … Continue Reading

The Trump administration’s Africa strategy: Primacy or partnership?

Last week, the Trump administration launched an Africa policy that seeks both primacy and partnership on the continent. The administration’s efforts at partnership, especially as it relates to promoting U.S. business on the continent, are likely to be far more lasting and consequential. Ambassador John Bolton set the tone for the administration in a speech … Continue Reading

Covington Strengthens Africa Practice with Key Additions to Johannesburg Office

  We are pleased to share that partner Ben Haley has relocated to the firm’s Johannesburg office to lead the firm’s Africa-focused compliance and investigations efforts. Mr. Haley joins another recent addition to the Johannesburg office, Robert Kayihura, who will lead the office’s Public Policy and global problem solving practice. Mr. Haley is an experienced … Continue Reading

China in Africa: Recent Developments

In 1998, China announced its “go out” or “go global” policy aimed at encouraging its enterprises to invest overseas. In 2013 this policy was reinforced with China’s introduction of its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) or “Belt & Road” initiative, which seeks to enhance development and trade routes in the region, connecting China with other … Continue Reading

Summary of the Final 2018 Report of the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa

In its final deliverable of the 2016–2018 term, the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (“Council”), issued a call to the U.S. Government and the American business community to make a deliberate effort towards nurturing greater U.S. commercial engagement with Africa. The final report was prepared by the private-sector members of the council … Continue Reading

Covington’s Africa Practice Hosts African Leadership Academy

Covington’s Africa Practice Hosts African Leadership Academy On October 3, 2018, Covington and Burling hosted the African Leadership Academy (ALA) for a celebration of its impressive ten-year existence. Located in Johannesburg, ALA offers a two-year diploma program to some of the most promising students from across the continent. To date, ALA has provided 983 students … Continue Reading

Congress takes the lead on U.S.-Africa Policy

While the nation has been transfixed by the confirmation hearings of Judge Brett Kavanaugh for a seat on the Supreme Court, Congress passed significant legislation on Africa that has attracted virtually no attention. On October 3, the Senate passed the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act, better known as the Build Act. President … Continue Reading

Smart Power: Investing in Youth Leadership and Development

“So, young people…my message to you is simple, keep believing, keep marching, keep building, keep raising your voice. Every generation has the opportunity to remake the world.” -President Barack Obama, 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, South Africa   Of the many statistics that define Africa’s complexity, this may be the most important one: With 200 … Continue Reading

The 2018 AGOA Forum: A turning point for US-Africa commercial relations?

The 2018 AGOA Forum—named for the African Growth and Opportunity Act passed in 2000 and extended three years ago to 2025—could be a turning point in U.S.-African commercial relations. AGOA abolished import duties on more than 1,800 products manufactured in eligible countries sub-Saharan Africa (those with established or making continuous progress with market-based economy, rule of … Continue Reading

Recent Media Interviews on African Business Trends

Witney Schneidman, Chair of Covington’s Africa Practice, recently participated in a number of media interviews where he discussed various business trends on the continent. Below are links to those interviews.  An interview with CGTN that compared the commercial approaches of China and the United States in Africa. LINK CNBC-Africa’s Closing Bell had Witney Schneidman on … Continue Reading

What Companies Need to Know About France’s Loi Sapin II Anti-Corruption Law

On June 3, 2018, French tycoon Vincent Bolloré warned investors that Groupe Bolloré—a logistics provider with extensive operations in former French colonies in Africa—may suffer negative commercial and financial consequences as a result of a corruption investigation initiated by French authorities. Mr. Bolloré was questioned for two days by French police in April 2018 over … Continue Reading

Project Finance Master Class: Addressing Africa’s Infrastructure Deficit

There are ample studies that quantify Africa’s infrastructure deficit in terms of projects and funding. The World Bank estimates $93 billion of annual upkeep investment is needed for projects and Ernst and Young estimates that there are some 800 projects, largely in the power and transportation sectors, that require approximately $700 billion in new investments. … Continue Reading

Competing in Africa: China, the European Union, and the United States

Given recent developments in the global economy, especially Brexit and the Trump administration’s “America First” policy, it is worth assessing how Africa’s three largest commercial partners—China, the European Union, and the United States—are likely to impact the region in the near future as it relates to trade and investment trends. The China-in-Africa story may be … Continue Reading

Covington’s Africa Practice Will Be at SXSW

Covington’s Africa Practice is looking forward to being a sponsor of the first-ever Africa House at South By Southwest (SXSW) this year. Launched in 1987, with a mission to foster discussion and collaboration in the music and art scene, SXSW has morphed into the ultimate gathering place for creatives, innovators, and technologists. Held in Austin, … Continue Reading

Ten Key Issues to Watch in Africa in 2018

In this blog, Covington’s Africa practice  highlights ten key issues to watch in Africa in 2018. U.S. Policy: The derogatory remarks that President Trump made about Africans and Haitians, which he denies having said, create a negative image for the U.S. across the region as the year begins. Nevertheless, the administration will push forward on … Continue Reading

What Next for Trump and Africa?

In late December, the Trump Administration released the “National Security Strategy of the United States of America.” The nearly 70 page document lays out the foreign policy priorities of the current Administration in both thematic and regional approaches. At the time of its release, the press focused on the strategy’s emphasis on Russia and China, … Continue Reading

Ramaphosa’s Victory: Progress or Paralysis?

The election of Cyril Ramaphosa as president of the African National Congress (ANC), and now the leading contender to become South Africa’s next president, was hailed as a “humbling rebuke” of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and a stark rejection of his policies, which have led to anemic economic growth, widespread corruption, and rising frustration in one … Continue Reading
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