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Freshfields in Africa

We have advised on complex transactions, projects and disputes in all of Africa’s 54 countries. Combining detailed knowledge of the continent’s laws and regulations with a deep understanding of its myriad cultures, we are an obvious choice for complex African matters.

Our clients, which include governments, state-owned enterprises, investment firms, multinational corporations and financial institutions, know there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to working across the continent. And so they rely on us to find bespoke and innovative solutions to their most critical needs in Africa.

Our Africa-focused lawyers, based across our offices, have experience of a wide variety of industries, such as mining, oil and gas, infrastructure, telecoms, technology, consumer products and healthcare. We also have strong ties with Africa’s top law firms and many of the institutions and stakeholders that are critical to delivering outstanding legal and practical advice for any matter. 

Client successes in Africa

Freshfields advised on the establishment of the platform by the three founding investors: Development Partners International (through its ADP III fund), CDC Group, the UK’s publicly owned impact investor, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, who joined forces on the ground-breaking deal. The three investors have committed an initial $250m of capital that has been used to fund the acquisitions of Adwia and Celon.

The newly created platform will improve the delivery of essential and affordable specialty generic pharmaceuticals across the African continent. This will be supported by up to an additional $500m fund raise, to fund a strong pipeline of acquisitions, assist in new drug development, and establishment of new distribution channels.

This is one of 2019's largest London IPOs and Airtel Africa is the first company to have a premium listing in London and a listing on the Nigerian stock exchange.

The IPO comprised a global offer to institutional investors outside of Nigeria and a separate offer to institutional investors and high-net-worth individuals in Nigeria, raising approximately $750m of primary proceeds.

We advised Vivo Energy on:

  • the secondary offering of ordinary shares to certain institutional investors;
  • the admission of the company’s entire ordinary share capital to the premium listing segment of, and to trading on, the main market of the London stock exchange; and
  • a secondary inward listing on the main board of the Johannesburg stock exchange.

The dispute concerns Econet's multibillion dollar interest in the Nigerian operations of a leading global telecoms company. 

Read more about the dispute in our case study

The proceedings comprising investment treaty disputes under the ICSID and UNCITRAL rules and contractual disputes under the ICC and CRCICA rules.

The disputes arose from a Egyptian-government-backed project to construct a pipeline under the Mediterranean sea to export gas to Israel. The project was an extension of the two countries' commitment to energy interdependence in their 1979 peace treaty. Egypt put an end to that project by repudiating its gas supply commitments following the 2011 'Arab Spring' uprisings.

In December 2015, the ICC tribunal ordered the Egyptian state entities to pay out over $2bn in favour of the claimants; in February 2017, the ICSID tribunal found Egypt liable for multiple violations of the US-Egypt bilateral investment treaty; in December 2017, the UNCITRAL tribunal found Egypt liable for multiple violations of the Poland-Egypt bilateral investment treaty; and in January 2018 the CRCICA tribunal awarded our clients damages of approximately $1.3bn.

Damages awards in the two treaty arbitrations are pending.


"They are client-oriented; they go beyond legal advice and have great commercial understanding of transactions."

Chambers Africa 2019