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Doing business in Africa brings vast opportunities and unique challenges. Covington’s Africa initiative has unparalleled experience working with companies across sectors, helping them navigate the risks of Africa and achieve their business objectives on the continent. Our team includes attorneys and advisors with experience working internationally at senior levels of government and an ability to craft successful outcomes and practical solutions to the most demanding policy, legal, and regulatory challenges.
Our experience across the continent includes advising clients on market entry strategies, investments, arbitrations, investigations, and trade controls compliance, among other areas. Our clients include companies in a range of sectors, including in the oil and gas, mining, energy, agriculture, software, telecommunications, aviation and financial institutions industries, as well as sovereign states.
We count many former high-level government officials amongst our ranks. Witney Schneidman, a former senior State Department official with more than 30 years of experience in Africa, oversees Covington’s Africa initiative. In his role as senior international advisor for Africa, Dr. Schneidman uses his extensive experience with African issues to help companies capture opportunities and navigate challenges to achieve their business goals.
Alan Larson, a senior international advisor in our Washington office, previously served as Under Secretary of State for Economics and Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). He provides clients operating in the African market with strategic advice, counseling and representation at the intersection of international business and public policy.
Ambassador Jean de Ruyt in our Brussels office previously served as the Permanent Representative of Belgium to the European Union. During his career, Ambassador De Ruyt had close dealings with rebuilding peace in central Africa.
Assisted a Korean state company involved in legal battles and protracted negotiations over a multi-billion dollar project development. When negotiations failed and parties refused to turn up to the table, Covington stepped in to help the company reconvene the parties and move forward on negotiating an amicable resolution.
We assisted one of the world’s largest manufacturers of agricultural equipment in establishing and strengthening relationships with key constituencies in the United States, Africa, and South America, including with relevant government officials and international NGOs. With our knowledge of global development programs and agricultural initiatives, we helped identify future markets and consumers through relationships with U.S. and non-U.S. government officials as well as international NGOs.
Represented Hyperdynamics Corporation in an FCPA investigation by the Department of Justice related to its business activities in the Republic of Guinea. The matter was resolved without any charges being brought against the company.
Advised an oilfield services company on the design and implementation of a corporate responsibility program for its Angolan operations following an FCPA enforcement action.
Advising OCP S.A. in all aspects of its commercial and strategy and its prospective investments in North Africa, Latin America, Europe, U.S. and Turkey by means of joint ventures, equity and mergers and acquisitions.
Represented a major global pharmaceutical company on negotiating arrangements with multiple suppliers for the development and operation of a complex state-of-the-art telehealth IT system.
Represented UBS in the negotiation of a new long-term services agreement with Bloomberg for the calculation and administration of commodities indices.
Represented American Airlines in a software development and outsourced technology services agreement with HP for a next generation reservation, inventory, and availability system.
Represented American Airlines in information technology services agreements with Amadeus, Sabre, HP, and ITA Software.
Advised a client in its international efforts to remove discriminatory regulatory barriers threatening to keep its product from the market in South Africa, the EU, India, and elsewhere.
Through the United Nations Development Program, the International Senior Lawyers Project, and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program, we provide procurement law expertise and training to senior procurement officials of foreign governments including Liberia, Iraq, and Afghanistan to help those countries build capacity for conducting predictable and transparent procurements. This experience allows us to provide specific, knowledgeable advice to clients wishing to pursue procurements conducted by foreign governments.
Advised companies regarding U.S. and EU sanctions on the Qaddafi regime in Libya and the Assad regime in Syria, including obtaining licenses to permit certain ongoing business activities in Libya.
Representing an executive of KBR, Halliburton’s subsidiary, in a wide-ranging investigation into alleged bribery of Nigerian government officials in connection with the selection of the company to build one of the world’s largest liquefied natural gas projects.
We assisted a pharmaceutical company on assessing which NGOs they should consider working with in Kenya to implement a corporate responsibility program aimed at improving public health.
Represented the State of Eritrea in the successful resolution of its boundary dispute with Ethiopia. We advised Eritrea during the negotiations that produced the December 2000 agreement ending the two-year Eritrea-Ethiopia border war. Covington then represented Eritrea before the commission established to delimit and demarcate the boundary between the two countries. This representation included preparation of arbitral memorials as well as participation in oral hearings before the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission in The Hague. The Commission delivered its delimitation decision on April 13, 2002. We continue to represent Eritrea in connection with the demarcation process.
Advised on news gathering issues in relation to an undercover documentary being filmed in Europe and Africa.
We advised a large trade association with respect to the Nigerian position on an IP issue before the World Intellectual Property Organization.
We advised an asset management firm on mitigating the impact of the Ebola crisis on its operations in Liberia.
We advised a young exploration and production company on mitigating above-ground risk, preserving $4 billion in value in a Western African company, and navigating legal and policy issues surrounding hydrocarbon exploration and development in a non-self-governing territory.
Representation of a European gas utility company in a large ICC arbitration valued over US$2 billion against a North African state-owned oil company relating to a complex contract price revision dispute.
We assisted a large trade association engage with the South African government on a number of issues, including IP and other issues related to the life sciences sector.
Secured export licenses enabling leading pharmaceutical companies to sell millions of dollars’ worth of medical products to Iran and Sudan, and permitting consumer products companies to export agricultural commodities to those countries.
Representing one of the world’s largest mining companies in a contract and treaty law dispute against an African government relating to the violation of stabilization and other comments in a development agreement and related acts of indirect expropriation.
Advising African Power Corporation on development of a hydroelectric project in the Republic of Congo.
We assisted Microsoft Corporation in its establishment as a founding implementing partner to the Young African Leaders Initiative, one of the Obama administration’s flagship initiatives in Africa.
Representation of the Kingdom of Jordan in securing dismissal of ICSID denial of justice claims brought by a Turkish contractor relating to the collapse of a dike in the Dead Sea. In its award, the tribunal went on to state that, even if there had been jurisdiction, it was “unconvinced” by claimant’s denial of justice claim.
In successfully resisting U.S. enforcement of one of the largest ICC awards in recent years, following an arbitration handled by other counsel. 458 F.3d. 172 (3d Cir. 2006).
Gigawatt Global d/b/a Energiya Global on policy and financing issues relating to development of solar projects in Africa, initially in Rwanda and Nigeria.
An energy company on an oil and gas project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
April 27, 2017
London—Covington will significantly expand its Project Development and Finance practice with the addition of Ben Donovan, Agnieszka Klich, Richard Keenan, and David Miles, and the firm’s Middle East regional capabilities in corporate and dispute resolution matters with the addition of Jack Greenwald. With these additions, the firm will also open offices in Dubai ...
April 17, 2017, Cov Africa
Despite the global focus on growth trends in Africa, one trend has flown mostly below the radar: the increase in the number and size of pension funds. In addition to evidencing increased income security, the continent’s growing number of pension funds could potentially be a new source of funding to address Africa’s infrastructure deficit, estimated … Continue ...
April 5, 2017, Cov Africa
This past March was a busy month in Washington for Africa related events. Covington participated in a number of business focused summits and congressional hearings touched on U.S. – Africa public policy and its impact on the commercial relationship. In early March, Covington’s Washington office hosted the Corporate Council on Africa’s (CCA) Annual Board Meeting. ...
April 1, 2017, All Africa
Witney Schneidman is quoted in an All Africa article regarding the Trump Administration’s impact on Africa policy. "The Trump Administration needs to strike the right balance between hard and soft power if it is going to be successful in advancing U.S. interests in Africa," says Schneidman. "Africa appears to be on the back burner for this Administration.”
March 28, 2017, Covington Alert
On March 16, 2017, following a lengthy legislative process, the European Parliament approved a final regulation implementing a new due diligence and reporting regime for “conflict minerals” (i.e., tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold) imported in the EU. The regulation will enter into force 20 days after formal approval by the Council of Ministers ...
March 27, 2017, Cov Africa
Covington’s Africa initiative has unparalleled experience working with companies across a variety of sectors, helping them navigate the risks of Africa and achieve their business objectives on the continent. Over the past several months, we have continued to bolster our capabilities by adding to our team of lawyers and advisors: Jonathan Berman: Mr. Berman, a … ...
March 9, 2017, Cov Africa
Businesses are being bombarded with information about their global human rights and other nonfinancial responsibilities, and are under growing pressure to publicize their efforts in that regard. Below we outline five key developments that business should be actively monitoring in a rapidly evolving landscape. 1.“Hard” Legal Obligations Governmental efforts to ...
February 28, 2017, Global Policy Watch
The contours of Trump’s Africa policy are emerging, although key appointments, such as the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, have yet to be made. On February 13, President Trump had telephone conversations with President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa—his first with leaders from sub-Saharan Africa. The calls, ...
February 27, 2017, Cov Africa
February 14, 2017, OZY
Witney Schneidman is quoted in an OZY article regarding the impact of the Trump Administration on the future of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). According to Schneidman, “There’s a fair chance that it will be seen as a trade deal that’s disadvantageous to the United States.”
February 13, 2017, African Business Magazine
Witney Schneidman is quoted in an African Business Magazine article regarding claims that the African Growth and Opportunity Act unfairly benefits Chinese firms more than African entrepreneurs. According to Schneidman, “I think the criticism is a red herring to be honest.” He adds, “Chinese companies have been at the forefront of helping to expand the ...
February 10, 2017, Bloomberg BNA
Keir Gumbs is quoted in a Bloomberg BNA article regarding a draft executive order targeting the conflict minerals reporting requirement. According to Gumbs, “I have never heard a national security concern expressed with respect to the conflict minerals rule.”
February 7, 2017, Financial Times
Witney Schneidman is quoted in a Financial Times article regarding how President Trump may affect Washington’s Africa policy. Schneidman, who is hopeful that President Trump can be persuaded that what is good for Africa is good for America, says, “The key question is how will Africa help America be great again? How does Africa fit into this?” He adds that even ...
February 6, 2017, Cov Africa
Crowdfunding—or the use of online platforms to raise money for business ventures from a large base of investors—has been steadily gaining traction in Africa over the past decade. Still, crowdfunding in Africa remains limited compared to other regions: In 2015, the African crowdfunding market amounted to about $70 million, accounting for less than one percent … ...
February 1, 2017, Global Policy Watch
The end of the 22-year reign of former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, ushered in by the December election of opposition candidate Adama Barrow, is widely seen as a win for democracy in Africa. More so than anything else, this is a win for the Economic Community of West African States (“ECOWAS”) and regional self-policing in … Continue Reading
February 1, 2017, Cov Africa
February 1, 2017, Financial Times
The Financial Times highlights Covington’s efforts to challenge President Trump’s travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. Covington has formed a working group in response that is advising clients who are planning to challenge the legality of the order, representing a coalition of technology companies who are set to lobby Congress on the ...
February 1, 2017, Brookings Institution
Witney Schneidman appeared on the Brookings Institution's “Intersection” podcast series to examine the top priorities for Africa in 2017, as laid out in the Africa Growth Initiative’s annual Foresight Africa report. According to Schneidman, a key challenge for 2017 is “how to get more growth in…key economies” and “how to get growth in the non-oil sectors.”
January 18, 2017, Voice of America
Witney Schneidman is quoted in a Voice of America article regarding U.S. trade and investment in Africa. "I think the key to [Barack Obama’s] legacy is that he has brought trade and investment to the forefront of the U.S.-Africa policy agenda.” Schneidman adds, "When you look at the totality of this, not only does it say that the U.S. has interests in Africa ...
January 14, 2017, Cov Africa
In response to “positive actions” taken by the Government of Sudan over the past six months, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) announced today an amendment to the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations (“SSR,” 31 C.F.R. Part 538) that effectively suspends virtually all of the U.S. sanctions against Sudan by authorizing … ...
January 11, 2017, Cov Africa
The Trump policy towards Africa will not be clear for several months at least, if we are to judge by the time it has taken past administrations to put their teams in place and articulate their objectives. While it is apparent that the president-elect has had very little contact with the continent, the same was true … Continue Reading
December 14, 2016, Cov Africa
Nana Akufo-Addo, the 72-year-old leader of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), was elected Ghana’s president on December 9 by a margin of 1 million votes, affirming the country’s status as a leading democracy on the continent. The peaceful election supports the remarks of former assistant secretary of state for African affairs and election observer, Ambassador … ...
December 13, 2016, Global Policy Watch
Nana Akufo-Addo, the 72-year-old leader of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), was elected Ghana’s president on December 9 by a margin of 1 million votes, affirming the country’s status as a leading democracy on the continent. The peaceful election supports former assistant secretary of state for African affairs and election observer Ambassador Johnnie Carson’s ...
November 28, 2016, All Africa
Witney Schneidman is quoted in an All Africa article regarding the uncertain future of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) following the election of Donald Trump. According to Schneidman, “It is hard to see how AGOA is sustained in a Trump administration.”
November 15, 2016
WASHINGTON—Covington, in association with LEX Africa, an alliance of leading law firms in Africa, has named Bridget Nambooze as its second Covington-LEX Africa fellow.
Covington and LEX Africa launched the program in 2015 in an effort to foster links between the African and international legal communities. Each year, LEX Africa member firms recommend an ...
November 11, 2016, Global Policy Watch
For Africa, at stake in this election of Donald Trump is the strong bipartisan consensus in Congress that has been the cornerstone of U.S. policy toward the continent for the last three administrations. This consensus, supported by Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, was predicated on the notion that Africa has opportunities worth U.S. attention and … Continue ...
November 2, 2016, IGD Blog
Witney Schneidman participated in a panel at the IGD Fall Frontier 100 Forum and is quoted in an article providing highlights of the discussion on Chinese investment in Africa. According to Schneidman, “We cannot afford to see African market as a zero-sum proposition.” He added that global investors must ensure that “Africa has the access to the best global ...
October 19, 2016, Global Policy Watch
According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, an estimated 45.8 million men, women and children around the world are ensnared in some form of modern slavery, which includes slavery, servitude, forced labor and human trafficking. Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly vulnerable to this scourge: Estimates of modern slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for ...
September 28, 2016, Global Policy Watch
On May 25th, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, made the long-awaited announcement that the country would no longer peg the naira at N197 to the dollar. This change went into effect on Monday, which was the first time in recent history that the naira’s value was determined by market … Continue Reading
September 15, 2016, Global Policy Watch
Solar energy is a very good and important investment in sub-Saharan Africa. The energy is cheap, clean and relatively easy to install. It is also very beneficial to consumers. As Andy Herscowitz, the coordinator for Power Africa notes, individuals do not have to rely on an electricity grid that can be unreliable, and once they … Continue Reading
September 1, 2016, Global Policy Watch
Is Africa becoming a strategic priority for Japan? The Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI), held in Nairobi, Kenya August 27-28, suggests that Japan is looking at Africa differently than in the past. For one, the five previous TICADs have been held in Japan; this is the first to be convened on … Continue Reading
August 16, 2016, Global Policy Watch
This past June, the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy held a hearing to discuss U.S. sanctions in Sub-Saharan Africa. The United States, the European Union, and the United Nations impose far more sanctions on Sub-Saharan African targets than on any other region, and these sanction regimes have been changing over … Continue ...
July 25, 2016, Global Policy Watch
In 2015, African Union (AU) Commissioner for Political Affairs, Dr. Aisha Abdullahi, indicated that a plan was underway to implement a single African passport. After recent announcements that the AU passport would be unveiled at the AU Summit in Kigali this month, the long-awaited continental e-passport has finally been revealed. The first recipients of the … ...
June 3, 2016
NEW YORK—Covington advised Beltone Financial Holding, a leading Egyptian investment bank, in its acquisition of 51 percent of Auerbach Grayson & Company, a New York brokerage firm specializing in global trade execution and research on developed, frontier, and emerging markets for U.S. institutional investors.
This acquisition marks Beltone Financial’s entry into ...
May 16, 2016, Financial Times
Witney Schneidman is quoted in a Financial Times article looking at the President of Gabon’s warning that western powers need to step up efforts to help west Africa combat terrorism. According to Schneidman, the US response is “missing an overarching strategic approach.”
May 12, 2016
WASHINGTON, DC — Covington advised China Molybdenum Co., Ltd (“CMOC”) on certain aspects of its agreement to acquire Freeport-McMoRan Inc.’s indirect 56% Interest in Tenke Fungurume for $2.65 billion in cash plus contingent consideration of up to $120 million.
CMOC is primarily engaged in the mining, processing and marketing of mineral products. The acquisition ...
April 12, 2016, The National Law Journal
Witney Schneidman is quoted by The National Law Journal in an article discussing Covington’s inaugural LEX Africa fellowship program. Schneidman explains why building strong relationships with lawyers and law firms across the continent is important. He says, “Each client has different needs and interests. Having an exclusive link doesn't make any sense. Having a ...
April 6, 2016, Managing IP
Witney Schneidman’s remarks on IP policy in Africa at the MIP Africa Roadshow 2016 are quoted in this Managing IP article. Schneidman said he’s “optimistic” that the right balance between public interest and socio-economic needs can be found regarding IP rights.
January 28, 2016
WASHINGTON, DC - Law360 has named six Covington practice groups among its “Practice Groups of the Year.”
The practice groups recognized by Law360 are as follows:
November 18, 2015
WASHINGTON, DC, November 18, 2015 - The Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) has awarded Covington a perfect score of 100 percent for the eighth consecutive year on its Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality. Covington is among 400 major US businesses that ...
October 16, 2015, Zimbabwe Daily News
Dr. Witney Schneidman was quoted extensively in a ZimDaily article discussing the extended Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Zimbabwe’s inclusion. “I have always seen Zimbabwe as a country of great potential. We should look for new ways to communicate and understand each other,” he said, citing the country’s educated population, natural resources and ...
September 22, 2015
WASHINGTON, DC, September 22, 2015 — Covington, in association with LEX Africa, an alliance of leading law firms in Africa with a presence in 24 countries, and Werksmans, the South Africa member firm that chairs the alliance, have launched a fellowship program aimed at fostering links between the African and international legal communities.
Each year, LEX ...
September 10, 2015, Brown Capital Management Africa Forum
August 3, 2015, The New York Times
“That’s why this visit is so important, because he’s sort of breaking out of that mold, and I think that’s an important step,” said Witney Schneidman, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative.”
July 23, 2015, Global Arbitration Review
A piece on our new arbitration app quoting Marney Cheek, Jeremy Wilson and Stephen Bond and mentioning William Lowery’s and Catherine Karia’s roles in developing the app.
June 1, 2015, Law360
March 19, 2015, CovAfrica Blog
February 25, 2015, Law360
February 18, 2015, LXBN TV
Covington's Stephanie Keene spoke with LXBN TV on a recently released report on illicit financial flows, one which revealed some startling figures: namely, that Africa loses $50 billion every year to these illicit financial flows.
December 11, 2014, African Law & Business
Covington's Ashwin Kaja authored this piece on the implications of the Ebola crisis on international businesses:
Although headway has been made in curbing the spread of the Ebola virus in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, more than 16,000 people to date have contracted the virus and nearly 7,000 have died in what the World Health Organization (WHO) calls the ...
October 2014, European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM)
Covington's Witney Schneidman authored this piece on US-Africa relations and the Africa Leaders Summit, held in Washington in early August:
"The transition in US-Africa relations began with the passage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2000. AGOA, which reduced US tariffs to zero on 6,400 products for 40 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, was ...
August 25, 2014, CovAfrica Blog
August 8, 2014, Roll Call
Witney Schneidman writes on how extending the African Growth and Opportunity Act will enable the U.S. to maintain a competitive edge against China in the African market in this op-ed for Roll Call:
"In the competition for African opportunities, job creation is the U.S. strategic advantage. We are not going to finance infrastructure the same way that China does, ...
August 6, 2014, The Hill
Witney Schneidman is quoted regarding expanded U.S. foreign policy in Africa and the U.S.- Africa Business Forum:
"Witney W. Schneidman, senior international adviser for Africa at Covington & Burling LLP, said some of the main issues that could come up include the reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which is set to expire next ...
August 6, 2014, The Washington Post
Witney Schneidman is quoted regarding the African Summit that took place this week in Washington, D.C.:
"Witney Schneidman, who served as deputy assistant secretary of State for African affairs and is now a senior international adviser for the law firm Covington & Burling, said the fact that so many leaders came to the event shows it was ...
August 5, 2014, The Washington Post
Covington's senior international advisor for Africa, Witney Schneidman, is quoted regarding business growth in Africa and the African Summit taking place in Washington D.C. this week:
“It’s a bit of an outdated perception to think of Africa as a continent of value for natural resources because now it’s of value for human resources,” said Witney Schneidman, a ...
July 29, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC, July 29, 2014 — Covington & Burling’s Witney Schneidman testified today before the U.S. House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade on the need to renew and strengthen the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The Act, signed into law on May 18, 2000, provides duty-free access to a wide variety of products from sub-Saharan African countries ...
July 29, 2014, Bloomberg
Covington's Witney Schneidman is quoted in this article in advance of his testimony before the House Subcommittee on Trade in support of extending the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
"Part of the challenge involves reorienting Africa as a continent of opportunity,” said Witney Schneidman, senior international adviser for Africa at Covington & Burling LLP, a ...
July 23, 2014, CovAfrica Blog
July 14, 2014, CovAfrica Blog
May 22, 2014, GlobalPolicyWatch Blog
May 15, 2014, GlobalPolicyWatch Blog
May 8, 2014, Voice of America
Covington's Witney Schneidman, senior international advisor for Africa, speaks with Voice of America about the conflict in South Sudan.
March 11, 2014, Covington E-Alert
February 11, 2014, African Law & Business
January/February 2014, The African Business Review
October 21, 2013, Brookings