TORONTO — In today’s session on doing business in Africa, panelists discussed key considerations for seizing opportunities and mitigating risks on the continent.

Panelists included Baker & McKenzie partners Reagan Demas and Greg McNab, as well as David Chmiel, managing director of Global Torchlight, a political and security risk consultancy.

They discussed the challenges and significant variance in risks and opportunities in various regions of Africa

Some key takeaways:

  • In the recent Going Global survey by Baker & McKenzie, access to customers was the top motivation for 61 percent of companies moving into Africa.  For example, there are approximately 190 million people in Nigeria, and a growing middle class with purchasing power there.
  • Are you trading, or investing, in Africa? Because selling something, versus putting boots on the ground, has a very different risk profile.
  • If you want a toehold in Africa, perhaps start in a more sophisticated jurisdiction on the continent, and slowly inch your way into others.
  • Because return on investment in Africa is higher, the challenge is to get risk mitigated. Businesses who invest in Africa can be very successful, but it requires you to manage risk effectively. Local counsel is a large part of that.