In recent years, Japan and many other countries have recognized the appeal of Africa as a potentially large business market. There are a total of 54 independent countries on the African continent, and not only has the GDP per person been steadily growing since 2000, owing to its abundant natural resources, but also the middle income class has been steadily increasing in parallel with the continuous growth in the population. Thus, there are several markets in Africa that are comprised of hundreds of millions of people when considering the scale of several of the economic communities. In addition, interest in both the public and private sectors in promoting the development of Africa is continuing to grow as a result of various factors, including the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) led by the Japanese government and jointly hosted by the UN, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the African Union Commission (AUC) and the World Bank.
We need to bear in mind, however, that each country in Africa has its own unique historical background, many of them having experienced domination by colonial powers and subsequent independence. Therefore, not only the language, but also the legal systems and legal practices are quite diverse among each of the countries. There are many areas in each of these countries’ legal systems and markets that are not fully developed, and although the situation has recently started to change, there are still risk factors that include not only public security and infectious diseases, but also widespread corruption and other legal risks that greatly influence the legal practices that do exist.
In view of the current trends outlined above, our firm has established an African Practice Team in order to mainly support our Japanese corporate clients in achieving their business strategies involving Africa. Our firm’s African Practice Team has a strong network of local law firms in African countries that have a good reputation and maintain close relationships with Africa business related parties in Japan and overseas. Thus, our firm’s African Practice Team, taking advantage of these various networks, is ready and able to support our corporate clients and others wishing to explore business opportunities in relation to Africa, in both legal and various other respects.