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Crouse is rated highly by the law firms he instructs, as well as internally, where his sterling technical knowledge, common sense and leadership skills are highlighted by sources. During his time at HSBC, he has taken steps to ensure his team proactively manage risks while partnering with the business to help the group achieve its objectives. He takes a particular interest in the management of his team. As general counsel, Tony Djokoto has excelled in providing legal and strategic support to award-winning initiatives, and has made a signifi cant contribition to corporate social responsibility initiatives.

He is praised both inside and outside the company for his proactive and forward-thinking approach to setting the corporate governance standard across the business. He has also impressed with his crafting of a wide-reaching anti-counterfeit program, covering multiple business lines and African countries. In the wake of the Microsoft merger, Edokpolo has been praised for his ability to move beyond the purely legal, to offering all-encompassing operational support.


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According to sources, another major success has been the dramatic reduction in disputes she has achieved through revamping and standardising processes. A highly experienced telecommunications lawyer, Thomas Eshun is a respected voice within the industry. Previously at Unilever, Eshun is praised for his positive and proactive handling of relationships with outside counsel. He helped build a holistic legal function supporting the Sub-Saharan business, which now encompasses 43 territories. He also supported the Bahrain and Kuwait markets during this period.

In the midst of this highly pressurised environment, Fayez saved costs, implementing an innovative case-management system, among other measures. Gumede also sits on Engen's executive management team.


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  • Praised for her diplomacy, resourcefulness and technical flair, she has also championed diversity during her time at Engen. Like many corporate counsel in the region, she is quick to point out the difficulties of keeping up with the rapid pace of regulatory change. The global management consultancy, now operating in 30 African countries, remains in growth mode across the region.

    When it comes to working with outside counsel, he points to the need for individual lawyers to understand their clients. He has also made an impact internally, with his introduction of specialist streams into the strong team, to heighten internal client service. Proving himself highly effective in planning and executing multijurisdictional technical projects, Ilozavbie is also praised for his negotiation skills, within a variety of contexts.

    Negotiating with the relevant authorities is an integral part of his role. In just five years at the leading South African underwriter, Janine Janse van Vuuren has successfully driven legal and compliance into the forefront of business decision-making. She built the entire legal function from scratch over three years, and became legal, compliance and company secretarial head in After 13 years at listed agricultural company Senwes, and a past career as a Department of Agriculture economist, Elmarie Joynt has exceptional industry experience.

    She has received many accolades for her performance during her time at the company, most recently for her contribution to corporate governance initiatives. She has also worked closely with a local university for the past three years, where she teaches strategy and risk management and runs internships and graduate programs. In addition to his current position at Exxon Mobil, he is also executive vice-chairman at Mobil Producing Nigeria. He has also established his own businesses in downstream petroleum, legal practice and publishing, and lectured in various institutions including Harvard University.

    He has three published law books on Investment Law and Contracts and numerous articles in various journals. She is consistently praised by her contemporaries for her rounded skillset, combining outstanding analytical, intrapersonal and business skills. During her year career at Shell London , which preceded, she built a strong repertoire of high-value multi-jurisdictional projects experience and co-founded the Shell African Network UK.

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    During her role at ABB, Kachikwu was part of the management team and played a pivotal role in business strategy and direction. She has a PhD in international investment and natural resources law and policy, and has published a book and numerous papers. During her time in the role, Kheiri has made it her focus to develop comprehensive frameworks and guidelines to be applied across the business. Integrating the local business function with the rest of the global brand is also an ongoing consideration in her role.

    Co-operative Bank of Kenya commenced a program of wide scale redundancies in preparation for a full restructuring to promote customer focus and profitability in He is praised highly for his technical knowledge and project management skills. He has also worked to promote greater levels of integration with the business and increase training. In a career spanning multiple industries, Klopper has headed a number of high-power legal functions. The role of in-house counsel, he says, is changing in Africa, as the business expects greater levels of engagement.

    Where corporate lawyers in the past mostly advised on a reactive basis, this has now changed. Among other measures, she has divided the function into units, with different specialisms, to heighten the level of service provided. He has wide-reaching experience supporting governments and private companies across a broad range of geographies, including Afghanistan and the Middle East. The USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub aims to increase international competitiveness, intra-regional trade and food security in Southern Africa, with particular focus on customs reform, food production, trade facilitation and renewable energy.

    He has authored two text books and numerous articles. A longstanding Tanzanian resident, Brazilian oil company Petrobras farmed out offshore blocks to Shell Deepwater Tanzanian and Norwegian multinational Stateoil in and respectively. Heading all legal, real estate and compliance functions, Lazrak has developed a degree view of the regional business.

    It is this variety, she says, which she enjoys most in her current role. Law firms could sometimes plan ahead, she suggests, in order to anticipate client needs ahead of time, and also offer greater fee flexibility. The primary focus on law has shifted towards a bigger management component.

    During this period he has made significant progress towards Black Economic Empowerment targets. Lester actually founded and ran Transcend Corporate Advisors, a leader in black economic empowerment and transformation, until He also counts his role in winning the high-profile, multi-party Kumba Iron Ore litigation as a particular achievement. Joining as legal head and company secretary in , Matembo Lisimba has been with Ecobank Zambia from the very early stages of its three-year-old operations in the country. In this time, she has played a pivotal role in building up the legal, compliance and company secretarial operations, of its rapidly-expanding headcount.

    Her move to Ecobank followed 12 years at state-owned power company Zesco, where she led support on a number of defining projects in the jurisdiction, and was also praised for her strong instincts in handling disputes. An increasingly respected voice, she has been vocal in the press on issues such as marital rape and cohabitation rights.

    Recently appointed to legal and secretarial functions head, Mathenge has a long history within the institution and is known for his balanced and commercial approach. Former legal affairs manager and company secretary at leading East African brand Uchumi Supermarkets, Mathenge has extensive compliance experience across both industries. She has sterling credentials in the financial services sector, having led the establishment of Ecobank Tanzania, and built its in-house legal function from scratch.

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    When it comes to outside counsel, she feels expertise and industry understanding need to be improved in some cases. According to sources, he has particularly set himself apart in his contribution to effective corporate governance processes and training at the bank. Mbewe previously covered legal and corporate secretarial functions at African insurance provider, ZCF. During her time at Bank of Africa, Mbugua gained recognition for her motivational and effective management style, which included incentives and structured training programs.

    A former Walker Kontos Advocates' partner, Mbugua has won respect throughout her career for her exceptional work and team ethic. She is particularly known for her work on significant international transactions involving multi-jurisdictional governments and state parties. When it comes to outside counsel, he says the quality is very high in the market, though sometimes lawyers could do more to appreciate all dimensions of financial transactions.

    Mentoring junior lawyers, Mojuetan explains, is one area of his role which gives him particular satisfaction. She is also credited with transforming the national corporate governance structure, through the introduction of new board committees to manage decision-making and monitor strategy. She has made a significant contribution to upskilling her team through specialist training support, has made material changes to processes and standard documentation.

    During her decade-plus service at Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, Sheilla Mugugu has been praised for her handling of significant high profile transactions and major disputes. Heading a lean legal function, Mumburi has led efforts to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of processes, with key focuses including due diligence and document templates.

    Operating across Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, Africinvest is one of the most experienced private equity investors in the region. As chief legal officer, Rafik Mzah has drawn notice for his deep-rooted industry understanding and his ability to balance growing regulatory demands with a business-friendly approach.

    With over a decade of United Nations experience spanning Kosovo, Sudan, South Africa and now Ethiopia, Sibangilizwe Ndlovu has an intricate understanding of international law. He also developed a significant transformation strategy for the company. In his previous role as Ecobank Kenya's legal head, Ndungi stood out for his efforts to cement ties with the business and increase involvement with strategic decision-making. When it comes to private practice, he suggests firms could improve relationships with clients, by managing expectations more effectively, particularly in relation to deadlines.

    According to sources, she particularly excels in her handling major transactions and disputes. When it comes to external counsel, she says firms should sometimes focus more on alternative dispute resolution before issuing proceedings. Her greatest challenges, Njeru says, relate to lack of clear-drafting in transactions, as well as the rapid pace at which laws can be changed in the jurisdiction.

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    Praised widely for her positive and innovative approach, Ntsele has shown her commitment to improving social welfare throughout her career, having previously focused on major international development projects. Supporting both legal and compliance at the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, she worked on funding a major water purification project in Sudan and a biomass waste project in Mpumalanga.

    Ntsele thought long and hard about how she was going to approach this, she explains. Managing a strong team, Okonkwo overseas all upstream, midstream and downstream operations. Her wide-reaching changes to the legal function include introducing formalised training and strategy meetings, and internalising higher levels of advisory work.

    As such, he was tasked with building the entire legal function from scratch in parallel with the business itself. Leading a five-strong team of legal, corporate and procurement specialists, he also heads corporate secretarial and sits as director of some international companies in the group. We have been in the trenches together. Okusami has negotiated billion-dollar contracts, working across Nigeria, the UK and America.

    The level of skilled in-house lawyers has grown considerably in recent years, he says, and he has seen a huge trend towards lawyers leaving the biggest firms to become general counsels. This, he attributes in large part to economic growth and the rising numbers of international companies entering the jurisdiction. Among his biggest achievements at leading electronic payments specialist Nigeria Inter-Bank, was his management of its multi-billion Inland Revenue tax collection project.

    He also drafted a series of agreements that have become templates across the electronic payments and shared services industry. Oloyede was previously a senior associate at LegalHouse Solicitors, specialising in litigation, and is a qualified chartered secretary and administrator. Defolu Olufon has led First Exploration and Petroleum in some of the largest recent upstream acquisitions happening in the region. Managing a small team of legal, compliance and commercial staff, Olufon has headed the legal function since the company was first established in Nigeria in Oriwo has extensive experience in the banking and FMCG sectors, including a deep knowledge of cross-border transactions.

    She draws particular mention for her contribution to corporate governance and due diligence processes in the bank. Otunla has made considerable changes to the company's legal function since his arrival six years ago. Among his most tangible results has been the establishment of cohesive risk-management procedures.

    Pillay is dealing with increasing levels of regulatory change across the region, as more and more governments turn their attention to tobacco. Previously a senior associate at DLA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, moving in-house had never been his original plan, Pillay says, but when BAT headhunted him, the opportunity was too good to miss.

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    Leading a small team, Pontet was singled out by sources for his focused and commercial approach to legal advice, and his deep emersion in the private equity market. Sometimes this is the most exciting part of the job on some days less so! Reena Shah is praised widely for her outstanding commercial acumen and lateral approach. She is also praised for her broad and practical understanding of compliance needs within the region. Shah has been active in charitable work throughout her professional working life, most recently chairing social action group, Oshwal Youth League.

    Now heading a lawyer team supporting operations across 74 national and international companies, Shaarawy negotiates contracts in English, French and Arabic. It is the broad international exposure of the work, he says, which gives him most satisfaction. Sinniger has made it a focus to train local lawyers, and has been particularly active in encouraging the advancement of women within the legal function.

    In addition to winning a number of significant contracts across these jurisdictions, she has also managed the repercussions of ongoing political unrest. Heading a four-lawyer team, she gains particular satisfaction from the variety of her role. When it comes to external counsel, Sithole raises the common issue of fee flexibility as an area for consideration.

    Recent work includes divesting Previously at Aspen Pharmacare, Stafford has solid industry knowledge. In her tenth year at Stanbic, she has a wide-reaching understanding of its lines and structure, with experience spanning credit and collateral.


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    • She has also managed legal support at security trustee subsidiary, Stanbic Nominees. Truter has also spearheaded a number of initiatives relating to external counsel, including negotiating new fee arrangements and upskilling the existing panel. Heading a team that works across ten jurisdictions, Irene Wamakau excels in multiple aspects of her role, according to sources. During her time leading the dual-function legal and compliance department, Wamakau has actively promoted greater business focus, with initiatives including focused wide-reaching training programs.

      Doing business in Africa offers unique opportunities and challenges and we are happy to be part of something that recognizes those Corporate Counsel who are driving the African legal profession forward. We fully recognise the need to understand the cultural, economic and political nuances that exist across this vast continent.

      DLA Piper is one of the most active law firms on the continent. Sharing best practice and knowledge enables us to service clients on a global, international and local level with the best legal advice. Our knowledge of the key sectors Energy, Infrastructure, Banking and Finance, Private Equity, Oil and Gas, Mining and Minerals, Hospitality and Leisure, Telecommunications and Insurance is built up by our teams working globally including in the rapidly developing markets in Africa. This involves not only great lawyers but also the wider infrastructure to support and develop the people and offices across the continent.

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