Chambers Africa Awards 2023
About this event
We are delighted to host Chambers Africa Awards 2023. The awards recognise a law firm’s pre-eminence in key jurisdictions in the region. They also reflect achievements over the past 12 months including outstanding work, impressive strategic growth and excellence in client service.
Ollie Dimsdale, Head of Research - Africa, Chambers and Partners
Ollie has been with Chambers and Partners for several years, initially starting as a Researcher on Chambers Asia-Pacific before working his way up to Assistant Editor. In 2016 he became Deputy Editor of Chambers Global, with specific responsibilities for the Middle East, North Africa and Offshore Caribbean. He graduated from the University of Warwick with a BA in English & Theatre Studies (2006) and an MA in English Literature (2007). He also separately obtained an MLitt in Creative Writing from the University of St Andrews (2010).
Charline Thiebault, Principal Research Specialist, Chambers and Partners
Charline graduated in International Relations and Political Sciences from Sciences Po Lyon, before studying for an MA in International Politics at SOAS in London. She is a French native speaker.
Magdalena Parkitna, Research Manager, Chambers and Partners
Upon joining Chambers, Magdalena conducted research on Africa, the Middle East and Offshore jurisdictions. After going through various roles in the company, she became the Deputy Editor on the Europe guide. Prior to joining Chambers, she was a freelance journalist, and has also lived and worked in New York. She graduated in Journalism from the City University London, before studying MA in Investigative Journalism at same university. Magdalena speaks fluent Polish.
Chambers Africa 2023 Awards – Shortlist and Winners
Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner: Philip Coulson of Bowmans (Coulson Harney) – Kenya
Outstanding Contribution Award
Winner: Barthélemy Faye of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton – France
Up-and-Coming Lawyer of the Year Award
Akindeji Oyebode of Banwo & Ighodalo, Nigeria
Bhavna Ramsurun of BLC Robert & Associates, Mauritius
Milly Jalega of DLA Piper Africa, Kenya (IKM)
Seyram Dzikunu of Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah, Ghana
Ziyanda Ntshona of Webber Wentzel, South Africa
Winner: Ziyanda Ntshona
The winner of this year’s award for up-and-coming lawyer of the year, Ziyanda Ntshona heads the corporate group at Webber Wentzel. Under her leadership the firm has continued to be one of the dominant forces in the South African market, regularly seen on cutting-edge and high-value transactions. Clients describe Ntshona as their “go-to corporate lawyer,” with one interviewee observing that she possesses “a sharp legal mind; she is engaging, solution-oriented and an excellent listener.” She is also noted for the seamless way in which she combines her management responsibilities with roles as lead partner on management buyouts and other significant private equity and M&A transactions.
South Africa Law Firm of the Year
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr
Bowmans is a prominent presence in the South African market, maintaining its top rankings in key practice areas such as corporate/M&A, projects and energy and tax, in addition to its full-service coverage of other disciplines. It maintains a stellar reputation for acting on high-value and complex instructions, representing an impressive list of domestic and international clients. In one notable work highlight, the firm worked alongside Latham & Watkins to advise Digital Reality on its USD3.5 billion acquisition of 55% of the issued share capital of TDE Investments. The Bowmans South Africa team attracts extensive praise from interviewees, who note its “excellent skill set” and “great commercial acumen.” The firm is regularly mandated on significant black economic empowerment transactions. One impressed client was particularly keen to highlight the firm’s proactive approach to diversity and inclusion initiatives, remarking: “Bowmans, as a firm, has a reputation for driving diversity and inclusion from within.”
South Africa Specialist Law Firm of the Year
Spoor & Fisher
Winner: Spoor & Fisher
Spoor & Fisher has a history stretching back more than a hundred years, during which time it has established itself as a premier South African law firm for intellectual property matters. The firm today maintains one of the deepest IP benches in the country, with a team that features some of the market’s most well reputed and experienced practitioners. Spoor & Fisher’s lawyers support a prestigious client base, and interviewees are quick to highlight the firm’s longevity in the market, as well as its highly commercial approach. Clients regard the team as “top-notch lawyers,” who provide “strong advice and representation.” In recent years the firm has played a lead role on several pan-African anti-counterfeiting initiatives, demonstrating its increasing engagement in markets outside its home jurisdiction.
Kenya Law Firm of the Year
Anjarwalla & Khanna
Bowmans (Coulson Harney)
DLA Piper Africa, Kenya (IKM)
Kaplan & Stratton
Dentons Hamilton Harrison & Mathews
Winner: Anjarwalla & Khanna
Long established in Kenya, Anjarwalla & Khanna continues to be recognised as one of the leading law firms in the market. It achieves a number of top-level rankings, offering experienced and highly respected teams in practice areas such as corporate/M&A, banking and finance, and projects and energy. The firm also consistently attracts a wealth of blue-chip clients and has played a key role on numerous sophisticated and high-profile mandates over the years. Anjarwalla & Khanna stands out further through its coordination of the ALN alliance of independent African law firms, which continues to set an impressive benchmark for such organisations on the continent. Several ALN members are receiving this year’s awards in their respective countries. Clients praise the firm’s “unmatched skill set,” with one impressed interviewee also noting: “The commercial sense of Anjarwalla & Khanna is top-drawer in the market – that was our main reason for selecting them.”
Nigeria Law Firm of the Year
Aluko & Oyebode
Banwo & Ighodalo
Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie
G. Elias & Co.
Winner: Aluko & Oyebode
Aluko & Oyebode has a prominent position in the Nigerian market, where it has an excellent reputation as a consistent provider of quality service and advice, representing an impressive roster of international and domestic clients. The firm receives top rankings in all of its core areas, including corporate, banking and finance and dispute resolution. In the latter category, a notable work highlight involved the firm defending First Bank of Nigeria in proceedings brought against it by the Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue Service over the bank’s alleged unremitted stamp duties for the period 2016-2020. Clients hail the firm’s keen insights into commercial and regulatory matters, with one referee adding: “They are very commercially aware and on top of their game.”
Ghana Law Firm of the Year
AB & David
Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah
JLD & MB Legal Consultancy
N. Dowuona & Company
Winner: N. Dowuona & Company
N. Dowuona & Company is a highly accomplished law firm that is widely considered to be a major player in the Ghanaian legal market. Over the current review period, the firm has particularly excelled in the field of infrastructure projects, with recent work spanning across the shipping, utilities and road and rail sectors. The team is also increasingly well recognised for its disputes practice, which encompasses commercial litigation as well as arbitration. Alongside these areas, the firm continues to demonstrate strengths in M&A, corporate structuring and regulatory matters. One especially pleased client observed: "They are fast, experienced, they understand the expectations of the client and they have a good track record in Ghana."
Morocco Law Firm of the Year
ASAFO & CO.
Bassamat & Laraqui
Clifford Chance LLP
Gide Cuatrecasas Casablanca
Naciri & Associés Allen & Overy
Winner: Naciri & Associés Allen & Overy
This firm has long been regarded as a market leader in Morocco. Interviewees consistently hail it as “a remarkable player,” acknowledging that “they are present on a number of high-profile transactions.” The firm is particularly noted for its frequent appearances on cutting-edge private equity acquisitions, its lawyers also being regularly called upon to assist with related corporate and commercial matters such as licensing issues and the establishment of joint ventures. Among its recent standout work, Naciri & Associés counselled Agence Spéciale Tanger Méditerranée on the acquisition of a 35% stake in Marsa Maroc from the Moroccan Government for approximately USD613 million. The firm’s corporate expertise is complemented by an impressive performance in dispute resolution, where it is well versed in both litigation and arbitration. Naciri & Associés also benefits from the outstanding local reputation of its founding partner, Hicham Naciri, as well as leveraging the wider global resources of Allen & Overy as and when these are required on cross-border matters.
Algeria Law Firm of the Year
Gide Loyrette Nouel
L&P Partners (DLA Piper Africa)
This firm is at the forefront of an ongoing trend towards consolidation in Africa’s legal sector. It was formed in 2021 through the combination of law firms in Algeria, Morocco, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire. The Algerian office, previously known as Bourabiat Associés, has a longstanding reputation for excellence in client service. The team in Algiers advises a blue-chip client base, featuring many notable names in such sectors as oil and gas, mining and automotive. The group covers the full gamut of transactional and commercial advisory matters. A recent highlight involved the firm advising Occidental Petroleum on the Algerian legal issues arising from its more than USD8 billion acquisition of Anadarko. The firm has wide-ranging capabilities: other standout work of late has included guidance with regard to the construction of a seawater desalination plant and assistance to several major companies on the corporate restructuring of their Algerian operations.
Mauritius Law Firm of the Year
5 St James Court
BLC Robert & Associates
Dentons Mauritius LLP
Winner: BLC Robert & Associates
BLC Robert & Associates is a highly acclaimed, full-service law firm that is often cited as a leading team in Mauritius. Its non-contentious practice offers a notably broad range of services covering structured finance, restructuring, M&A, investment funds, capital markets issuances and the negotiation of strategically important commercial contracts. Its disputes department is also highly skilled, regularly undertaking major international arbitration cases as well as representing clients in litigation proceedings before the Supreme Court and Privy Council. Notable recent work has included advising IHS Holding on the migration of its corporate headquarters from Mauritius to the Cayman Islands, in preparation for the company’s IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. The firm also acts on behalf of many other notable clients from sectors such as telecommunications, construction and energy. According to one highly impressed individual, “BLC’s advice and legal strategy has led to extremely valuable judgments for us."
Tanzania Law Firm of the Year
Clyde & Co Tanzania
Dentons EALC East African Law Chambers
Winner: Clyde & Co Tanzania
Esteemed international law firm Clyde & Co has a well-established operation in Dar es Salaam. It is widely agreed by sources to be one of the market-leading teams in Tanzania, frequently advising on high-value domestic and cross-border matters. Its experienced practitioners act for local and international clients which include well-known names from the oil and gas and financial services sectors. The firm is active on a slew of high-value corporate transactions and a variety of other complex projects. To highlight just one recent example, the firm counselled Australian mining company Gladiator Resources on its acquisition of Tanzania-based Zeus Resources, the holder of seven uranium exploration licences in the country. Clients laud the team’s commercial awareness and its ability to handle sophisticated matters, with one source remarking: "The law firm has a strong team with diverse experience, and is able to address any matter quickly."
Tunisia Law Firm of the Year
Adly Bellagha & Associés
Cabinet Donia Hedda Ellouze
Eversheds Sutherland El Heni
Ferchiou & Associés
Meziou Knani & Khlif
Winner: Meziou Knani & Khlif
The inaugural winner of the award for Tunisia Law Firm of the Year, Meziou Knani & Khlif has been in operation since 2009 and is widely applauded by interviewees as one of the most impressive business law firms in the country. It has an especially strong standing in the M&A and private equity arena. A typical client comment praised that "the lawyers are very knowledgeable and responsive, with strong expertise around the venture capital and startup ecosystem and legal structures, internationally and in Tunisia." The firm regularly assists asset managers and investment funds with large-scale strategic investments, and has further experience acting for selling shareholders. In one key work highlight, the Meziou team represented Actis in its TND160 million leveraged buyout of the Esprit Group. Regarding its additional areas of strength, the firm offers considerable know-how in a myriad of corporate and commercial matters, including high-stakes joint ventures and corporate restructures. The group is also well versed in acting for lenders on high-value financing arrangements.
Uganda Law Firm of the Year
Bowmans (AF Mpanga Advocates)
S&L Advocates (formerly Sebalu & Lule Advocates)
Shonubi, Musoke & Co. Advocates
ENSafrica is well known as a leading law firm in the fast-developing Ugandan market. Its extensive expertise covers a long list of practice areas, although the team stands out particularly for its handling of high-value M&A and financing transactions, as well as its frequent activity on many projects and energy mandates. It acts for some of the continent’s most prominent financial institutions in addition to several multilaterals and Africa-focused investment funds, with its work for these clients ranging from multimillion-dollar loans to strategic microfinance deals. In one notable transaction, it advised Afreximbank on the provision of a dual-tranche loan, with a total value of USD366 million, to the government of Uganda for the purposes of supporting its infrastructure development and industrialisation objectives. Further clients hail from the telecoms and education sectors, among others, with one recent interviewee enthusing that "ENSafrica were very responsive in addressing our various requests and questions."
Regional Law Firm of the Year: Francophone Africa
ASAFO & CO.
Clifford Chance LLP
Gide Loyrette Nouel
Herbert Smith Freehills
Winner: ASAFO & CO.
Headquartered in Paris, ASAFO is an Africa-focused law firm which has fast established itself as a leading name for matters in the French-speaking part of the continent, including issues governed by OHADA law. Although founded relatively recently (in 2019), its lawyers offer decades of experience in their specific areas of expertise, and the firm continues to go from strength to strength. It acts for a top-drawer client base comprising sovereign states, multilaterals and other big-name financial institutions, as well as private equity investors and leading players in sectors such as oil and gas. In one work highlight, it advised the consortium of lenders on a USD155 million financing package for a 130 MW power plant under development in Senegal; in another, the firm represented the Republic of Madagascar in an ICSID arbitration concerning the withdrawal of a telecoms licence. ASAFO is acknowledged for its wide-ranging expertise, with recent work encompassing a variety of M&A, financing and capital markets mandates in addition to project development and international arbitration. Alongside the strength of its Paris-based team, the firm is also known for its impressive transactional offering in Morocco and its increasingly notable group in Côte d'Ivoire.
Regional Law Firm of the Year: Lusophone Africa
Miranda & Associados
Winner: Miranda & Associados
Miranda retains its status as the go-to law firm for matters in lusophone Africa, and is of particular note for its work in Angola and Mozambique. In both countries it is frequently mandated on matters in the mining and petrochemicals sectors – a specific example being its advice to Azura Power on the acquisition of a stake in a gas-fired power project for USD145 million. The firm maintains a substantial team in Lisbon whose combined experience assisting with Africa-related transactions spans several decades. Miranda is additionally noteworthy for its co-ordination of the Miranda Alliance network of independent law firms, through which it is able to offer on-the-ground resources across lusophone Africa. Many of the network’s members maintain top-tier rankings in their own right. Client feedback contains high praise for the team’s comprehensive advice, efficiency and understanding of commercial priorities.
Africa-Wide International Law Firm of the Year: Corporate/M&A
Allen & Overy LLP
Clifford Chance LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills
White & Case LLP
Winner: White & Case LLP
White & Case operates a premier African transactional group, drawing upon the skills of several highly experienced lawyers in Cairo and Johannesburg, as well as key individuals based in Paris, London and Dubai. This is enhanced by further expertise located throughout the firm’s global network; several of the firm’s recent work highlights were worked on by multi-office teams. The firm is an especially dominant name for capital markets issuances, in which arena it has acted on a wide range of high-value debt and equity matters. White & Case also offers a heavyweight private equity team, which acts for a long list of asset managers and other blue-chip investors on an extensive range of deals across the continent. One recent highlight saw the firm advise the controlling shareholders of Union Bank of Nigeria on its sale to Titan Trust Bank. Sources regularly cite the team for its “very strong ability to handle complex and sophisticated matters,” in addition to its “strong and practical commercial advice on deal structures and agreements.”
Africa-Wide International Law Firm of the Year: Dispute Resolution
Clifford Chance LLP
DLA Piper LLP
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
White & Case LLP
Winner: Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
Quinn Emanuel is well established as one of the leading arbitration practices in the world, maintaining a particularly eminent reputation for its work representing claimants in proceedings against sovereign states. The firm’s Africa-related caseload includes a steady stream of such instructions, with notable recent matters representing mining and financial services companies. Quinn Emanuel also demonstrates an admirable ability to act on behalf of respondent governments. This is exemplified by its work defending the Republic of Tunisia in long-running ICSID proceedings brought by foreign investor ABCI and valued at more than USD4 billion; having originally been heard at arbitration, this case subsequently evolved into the first-ever ICSID mediation. The firm is equally strong when it comes to commercial arbitrations, and demonstrates further capabilities overseeing litigation matters and criminal investigations. Key personnel for the firm’s African work includes partners based in London, Paris and Washington, DC.
Africa-Wide International Law Firm of the Year: Projects & Energy
Clifford Chance LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills
Latham & Watkins LLP
Norton Rose Fulbright
Trinity International LLP
White & Case LLP
Winner: Herbert Smith Freehills
Herbert Smith is consistently at the forefront of major energy projects in Africa. It maintains an extremely deep international projects team, with its African deals principally staffed by lawyers based in Paris, London and Johannesburg. The firm is noted for its impressive breadth in this field, as well as an enviable client list featuring a mix of governments and leading private sector players. It is active on an array of finance and development mandates concerning oil and gas, renewable energy and mining projects located throughout anglophone, lusophone and francophone Africa. In one notable work highlight, Herbert Smith’s Paris office advised the Kinross Group on the regulatory, employment and corporate issues pertaining to operation of the Tasiast gold mine in Mauritania. Client commentary for the firm’s African projects practice highlights that “they are responsive, and they take the time to find the right answers and analysis.” Interviewees also note the team’s “ability to get things done in difficult scenarios.”