Hunton & Williams LLP is proud to have an established and diverse practice in Africa. For nearly 30 years, the firm’s Africa Practice has responded to client needs throughout the African continent, pioneering techniques for African infrastructure finance and development, and successfully supporting clients on arbitration, litigation and other dispute resolution matters.
With more than 50 lawyers from both US and UK legal traditions focused on Africa, our insights into varied legal traditions are supplemented by our truly international team. Hunton & Williams’ lawyers represent numerous clients, ranging from some of the world's largest financial institutions and multinational corporations to national and local governments and agencies.
Our Africa Practice draws upon the worldwide resources of Hunton & Williams. With the support of lawyers and other professionals situated in the major capital markets around the world, our Africa Practice provides highly qualified and timely international legal and consulting services.
The following are among the varied practice areas in which Hunton & Williams has broad experience in Africa:
- Infrastructure, Project Development and Finance
- Regulatory Reform and Market Design
- Sector Restructuring, Commercialization and Privatization
- International Law and Dispute Resolution
- International Boundary and Maritime Disputes
- International Trade
- Equity Investment
Hunton & Williams is widely recognized by governments and multilateral organizations as one of the leading international law firms in the fields of energy and energy sector reform on the African continent and throughout the world. Hunton & Williams draws from both a wealth of experience in Africa, giving us a full understanding of the many local factors bearing upon energy sector development, and upon more than a century of assisting clients in energy sector matters. One of our partners currently serves as General Counsel to a major African government-owned state oil company, providing a unique insight into the issues associated with the oil and gas sectors in Africa.
Hunton & Williams has emerged as a global leader in the development of competitive electricity markets, advising numerous African governments in developing national and regional energy sector markets. Hunton & Williams has also represented clients on innovative petroleum exploration, production and pipeline transactions across Africa.
Infrastructure, Project Development and Finance
Hunton & Williams has a long, established record of representing governments, project sponsors, equity investors and lenders in major infrastructure projects located throughout Africa. This work has given us extensive experience in all facets of infrastructure development and finance. Hunton & Williams’ infrastructure practice in Africa is highlighted by cutting-edge experience in restructuring, privatization and project development matters. Hunton & Williams has worked extensively with African governments and their parastatals, using financing and other programs provided by The World Bank and other governmental, multinational and multi- or bilateral export credit, risk insurance and lending agencies. In addition to assisting private and public sector clients in developing projects, we have teamed with clients to assist them in working through troubled projects, including the work-out and restructuring of project financings and the sale of assets to third-party purchasers. This work includes structuring corporate documentation; drafting and negotiating sales agreements and contracts for related infrastructure development; structuring government support agreements and guarantees; and developing project equity and debt financing structures, including cross border and other lease structures to support infrastructure development.
Hunton & Williams is representing an East African government on the development and financing of a gas-to-electricity project, an integrated natural gas development and electric generation project that achieved financial closure in October 2001 and commercial operations in July 2004; an East African government's hydroelectric project; a West African government on a number of projects to convert gas that would otherwise be flared into electricity; and a West African government on a hydroelectric project.
Regulatory Reform and Market Design
In Africa, as elsewhere, Hunton & Williams has advised numerous governments and their agencies on regulatory reform and market design issues. This work has included, among other things, developing strategic plans and policies for utility sector regulatory reforms; designing regulatory and legal systems for privatized utility systems; reviewing and drafting laws and regulations to create regulatory bodies and implement regulatory frameworks; and assisting clients in the implementation of reformed or newly created regulatory institutions and frameworks.
Hunton & Williams has broad-based experience in establishing new and assisting existing regulatory regimes for the development of transparent and commercially viable infrastructure sectors in emerging markets. We understand the importance of establishing appropriate policy and institutional frameworks before undertaking rehabilitation programs in infrastructure sectors. This advice draws upon our experience representing clients in the energy, water, telecommunications and other regulated utility sectors on legal reform and regulatory issues in emerging markets and throughout the world. Our approach to regulatory reform and market design is to focus on the processes of policy development, legislative reform and regulatory development and involves close interaction with local counterparts through seminars, workshops and informal discussions to develop an understanding of sector policies and the appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks for implementing these policies. We have extensive experience in drafting laws and regulations to facilitate the development and financing of specific projects and to create regulatory institutions that promote certainty and predictability.
Sector Restructuring, Commercialization and Privatization
Hunton & Williams advises numerous governments and parastatal utility clients throughout Africa on a variety of matters related to the restructuring, commercialization and privatization of infrastructure assets. This work has included advising on strategic plans and market design implementation strategies for infrastructure restructuring; reviewing and drafting laws and regulations to implement regulatory frameworks and market designs; implementing corporate governance standards, codes of conduct and financial controls to enhance transparency and accountability; developing corporate documentation to support commercialization, including corporatization of state-owned infrastructure and documentation and negotiation of inter-affiliate agreements; and creating tendering rules, liquidity and credit mechanisms and similar transactions and related financings. In addition, the firm has experience designing tariffs for privatized generating, transmission, and distribution systems and developing agreements and legal structures for market trading and power pools.
Hunton & Williams’ privatization assistance to governments has ranged from outright stock and assets sales to long-term lease-concessioning and management contracts, including the introduction of innovative foreign exchange risk mitigation measures. Among the more significant representations are the privatization of East African electricity distribution and electricity generation companies; the privatization of generating facilities in a East African country; and the privatization of the power generating facilities in a West African country.
International Law and Dispute Resolution
With the goal of avoiding disputes and the attendant costs of litigation, Hunton & Williams has advised developers, governments, financial institutions and other parties in Africa in commercial and public international law disputes in the regional dispute centers and under the leading arbitral regimes and international tribunals worldwide. Hunton & Williams has an extensive network of relationships with many of the leading firms on the African continent, with whom the firm has regularly worked, including, when necessary, providing support to such lawyers in domestic judicial proceedings to either enforce arbitration awards or litigate matters not suited for arbitration.
With experience handling a wide range of disputes, from claims arising out of the construction and operation of large infrastructure assets, to mining and permitting issues, to land and maritime boundary disputes, Hunton & Williams’ arbitration practice brings to bear the firms’ collective experience — including detailed knowledge of commercial and technical matters and regulatory requirements, an extensive network of prominent outside experts, and seasoned litigation experience to support our clients throughout each dispute resolution process. Where appropriate, we are capable and experienced in working through diplomatic and political channels to supplement legal strategy. Hunton & Williams has represented private-sector clients and numerous governments and their parastatals in both advisory and contentious roles. Given the rise in dispute resolution over infrastructure and trading contracts we have also advised on the establishment of a regional, Africa-based arbitration center to deal with trading, commercial and other disputes on the African continent.
Among our recent dispute resolution assignments, Hunton & Williams secured a favorable ruling through an ICSID arbitration on behalf of a major government-owned electric utility in East Africa. The dispute arose out of the construction and operation of an electric power plant in East Africa for which the developer overstated costs. The ICSID ruling will result in project cost savings for our client in excess of US$150 million over the life of the power plant. We also represent an African government before two independent international tribunals established to resolve a border dispute and to hear international humanitarian law claims arising from an armed conflict over the border. And, we represented an international entity (led by African and Middle Eastern business interests) in a dispute to recover sums paid under false pretences, involving proceedings in the UK and five other jurisdictions, with applications to the Commercial Court and Court of Appeal in London to obtain and defend applications for domestic and worldwide injunctions.
International Boundary and Maritime Disputes
Hunton & Williams’ professionals have provided assistance to governmental and private clients concerned with international boundary and maritime disputes for many years. In resolving these complex claims and their associated jurisdictional issues, we have developed extensive experience handling complicated legal challenges and managing the complex economic, political, diplomatic and human rights issues that invariably arise when resolving disputes. We are presently representing an African government before an international tribunal in its land boundary dispute with a neighboring country following an armed conflict. We have also represented another foreign government before an international tribunal in its successful claim to sovereignty over key islands and in the negotiation and settlement of its land boundary disputes.
Hunton & Williams offers comprehensive services in the area of international trade and market access counseling. Whether a company is experiencing an antidumping duty or customs law problem in the United States, import restrictions, trade disputes in third countries, or WTO litigation, H&W can assist the company. Over the past 25 years, our lawyers have assisted numerous international companies with a variety of international trade disputes involving a full range of importing and exporting activities, including antidumping duty investigations, countervailing duty investigations, US Customs matters, section 201 (escape clause) investigations, and section 301 (violations of US trade rights). Our attorneys represent companies making industrial, consumer and agricultural products all over the world. With the expiration of quotas, we have worked with numerous textile and apparel companies to protect their access to the US market by preparing them for possible antidumping cases on textile and apparel products.
Our attorneys and professionals, some of whom have held senior-level positions in the White House, Office of the US Trade Representative and Department of Commerce, have also had direct, hands-on experience dealing with US government policy and law regarding US trade issues. We have extensive experience advising sovereign governments on negotiations of bilateral free trade agreements with the United States. We also have experience working on market economy status; unfair trade practices; WTO accession; intellectual property rights; commercial law; energy exploration, production and transportation; foreign investment matters; and business disputes. We have assisted firms in overcoming barriers to increasing trade and investment, and in the identification of commercial partners and sources of finance for feasibility studies and export as well as political risk insurance. And, we have experience working with regional integration organizations that seek to reduce barriers to business.
On the African continent, our lawyers and professionals have advised on the setting up of a regional arbitration center to deal with trading, commercial and other disputes; advised several international corporations and governments on disputes arising out of trading contracts; assisted government clients to obtain US trade preferences under the African Growth and Opportunities Act; advised on and organized a high-level trade and investment mission to the United States; and reinforced embassy efforts in dealing with USG agencies on a variety of trade-policy matters.
Hunton & Williams has represented both domestic and international equity funds involved in a wide range of established and growth industries throughout Africa. The firm has drafted and negotiated agreements that allow equity funds to provide needed equity to potentially high-growth companies, but that also afford the funds protection against the risks inherent in investing in early to mid-stage companies in emerging markets. Hunton & Williams also advises equity fund clients on compliance with obligations to investors and lenders.
Lawyers in our telecommunications practice have advised clients throughout the world on matters related to the introduction of competition in the increasingly competitive Africa telecommunications sector. Hunton & Williams’ work for these clients is extensive and includes advice on general corporate and contract; structuring of finance and investments; trademark, copyright and trade secrets; licensing; and regulatory matters.
Hunton & Williams possesses an extensive international water sector practice. The firm advises on a diverse range of water sector matters, including environmental litigation and compliance; project construction; divestment of equity in special purpose water companies; privatization of state-owned water utilities; refinancing of project-financed water assets through the capital markets; and divestiture of water assets by the private sector. Hunton & Williams provides water sector clients a full range of services encompassing financial, development and construction, environmental, regulatory, and zoning and land use matters.