S-RM’s Africa specialists have spent time living and working across the continent, including in Nigeria, Angola, Côte d’Ivoire and South Africa, and speak languages including French, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Swahili, Luganda, Xhosa, Afrikaans and Zulu. We also have a dedicated Cape Town office, as well as permanent representatives in Ghana and Ethiopia, and an extensive network of contacts which extends to every country in Africa. This experience, expertise and strong track-record mean we can help clients across the sectors to successfully navigate the challenges and opportunities of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Economic growth is rebounding in Sub-Saharan Africa, after a challenging period of low commodity prices and policy uncertainty. A resilient continent offers a growing middle class, leap-frogging technological developments and an expanding private sector, as well as international investment and domestic prioritisation of infrastructure development and the power sector. The larger economies of Nigeria, South Africa and Angola have traditionally dominated commercial discussions in Africa, but opportunities are available in diverse countries, from Kenya’s ‘Silicon Savannah’, to Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire, which have both posted consistently impressive growth rates.

But Africa also poses challenges, from underdeveloped infrastructure to security issues and corruption. Any company or individual seeking to operate or invest in Sub-Saharan Africa will need to be able to navigate complex and shifting local operating environments. Due diligence is particularly critical in understanding who you are working with or investing in, and in a continent where the political and commercial environments are so intertwined, it is vital to understand political exposure and associated risks of corruption and money laundering.

Pre-transactional Due Diligence – West Africa

On behalf of an Africa-focused private equity firm seeking to invest in a West Africa-focused bank, we undertook pre-transactional due diligence to assist them in the decision-making process. In additional to conducting public record research across Nigeria, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Benin, we also spoke with financial and regulatory contacts across the region to conduct discreet source enquiries. We identified a key principal to have personal and professional political connections to successive regional governments, but also a diverse business portfolio, which had contributed to historical governance issues. Combined with the bank’s rapid regional expansion, we were able to highlight the impact this had on management turnover and a failure to establish effective internal systems of governance.

Integrity Due Diligence – Republic of Congo

An international logistics client was seeking a local partner in the Republic of Congo, but had concerns regarding potential political connections and the risk of ‘fronting’ at their identified company. Whilst we were able to verify an operational track-record, through local contacts in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noir, we mapped key political connections, tracing the company’s ultimate control to a politically influential and exposed family. We were able to highlight financial connections with political officials under investigation for money laundering and corruption, and corroborate the company’s payment of kickbacks to government officials in the awarding of public sector contracts.

Political Risk – South Sudan

An international commodities company interested in entering South Sudan had concerns regarding the political and security environment in the country in the aftermath of a period of significant civil violence. The client was particularly concerned about exposure to government entities and individuals under sanctions, and the threat of expropriation. Leveraging our regional contacts and thorough understanding of the complex political and security environment in South Sudan, we provided a comprehensive country analysis, including scenario mapping to assess potential political developments in this unpredictable environment and analysis of conflict drivers and key stakeholders within the commodity sector in South Sudan, identifying specific corruption and bribery risks both in the short and medium term.

Crisis Management – Terrorist kidnap in the Sahel

A group undertaking private travel in the Sahel were ambushed by a number of armed men, who caused some injury before taking them captive. A series of substantive demands were made for the group’s safe release, reinforced with threats to their lives. Response consultants deployed to key areas to manage the subsequent activity, understand the nature of the threats made and identify levers to facilitate a safe release. The assigned response consultants supported the families concerned with information and guidance strategies until the case was concluded after a period of months.