“I think it’s very interesting to watch the growth in Africa. Certainly from our perspective as lawyers, we see immense investment going into Africa. Some of that goes via South Africa, a lot of it goes [elsewhere in Africa], so South Africa doesn’t have a monopoly on that inward investment,” Norton Rose Fulbright, director of Africa practice Steven Gamble told CNBC Africa.
“In terms of countries, I think it’s safe to say that the usual suspects – Kenya, Mozambique, Angola, Nigeria – [are] all very exciting [and] lots of different projects are happening in those countries, and the investment is coming from all around the world.”
While South Africa has tried to continue positioning itself as the gateway into the rest of the continent, global and international companies have nonetheless ventured into other African countries and managed to set up thriving businesses.
“Even from a legal perspective, looking at the law firms that have shown their interests in Africa, setting up here, they’re looking at South Africa as a platform to [the rest of] Africa to provide those services. [For example], you’re looking at Industrial and Commercial Bank of China investing into Standard Bank a long time before everyone else,” Gamble explained.
Jon Foster-Pedley, dean of the Henley Business School Africa, however explained that the roles of China, America and Japan on the continent need to be reviewed as they have changed over time.
China remains an important major continental trading partner but Foster Pedley illustrated that its original policy was to sell its wares and work with governments.
“What you’re seeing now is a much stronger commercial approach from China. Iinstead of going government to government, it’ll be companies, it’ll be working with lawyers to set up the conditions [of operation], and less government involvement,” he said.
“Why it’s good [is because] you’re getting more fair practice. Why it’s less interesting is that you’ve got less involvement of governments where you really need aid to be placed and where you need to have large governmental programmes.”
Foster-Pedly added that while South Africa may be a top investment destination and a strategic entry point into other African countries, regions such as Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Angola are now at the forefront of economic growth.
“We’re sitting in South Africa now and historically South Africa has seen itself as the gateway into Africa. That’s all changing now. When we come out of South Africa and get into the [rest of] the continent at large, we find a different energy and sense of possibility and dynamism,” said Foster-Pedly.