The largest state in East Africa has for decades been best known for its touristic attractions – most notably the ever snow capped Mount Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater.
Mining is giving the country a new layer of international prominence. In little more than a decade, Tanzania has emerged from being a small producer of gold into the third largest in Africa – after Ghana and South Africa – and now plays host to big names in mining like Barrick and Canaco of Canada, Resolute of Australia, and Anglold Ashanti and Shanta Mining of South Africa. The latest estimates point to the mining industry as a contributor of around 52 percent of the country’s export revenue.
There was a lull in mining sector activities for the greater part of the year 2009 and early 2010, due to investors anxiously watching the progress of a new mining law that many feared would dampen confidence in the sector. The Mining Act was passed into law in April 2010, and its coming into force is awaiting the promulgation of the relevant regulations. The law has its downsides: the export of unprocessed gemstones has been banned, and royalties have risen from three to four percent for precious and base metals, from five to six percent for diamonds and gemstones, and to seven percent for uranium. However the licensing regime has been streamlined and licensing periods have been lengthened, and overall the climate is now conducive to foreign investors. There is a renewed influx of foreign investors and new discoveries of mineral resources like nickel and uranium.
Agriculture is promising to become another attraction to foreign investors; not only those seeking to invest in agribusiness, but also providers of goods and services to all the sectors that service agriculture, such as machinery and equipment suppliers and power generation. Traditionally the sector has remained stagnant, although the majority of Tanzanians depend on agriculture for their livelihood. In June 2010 the government launched a new agricultural initiative known as Kilimo Kwanza – Agriculture First – which is a blueprint for the country’s green revolution, transforming the sector into a modern and commercial one through investments in infrastructure such as roads, inputs such as high yielding seed varieties and fertilizer, and new technology.
These developments in the mining and agricultural sectors are a clear wake up call to providers of legal services. With the influx of new investors and the complex transactions that will surely be generated, there will be a groundswell of demand for legal services that are beyond the capacities of many law firms in Tanzania. One firm to respond to the call is CRB Africa Legal, an association of local firm CRB Attorneys and the South African-based English law practitioners Africa Legal. Charles R B Rwechungura, founding partner of CRB Attorneys and now managing partner of CRB Africa Legal, saw the need to transform the law practice into a firm properly profiled to meet the demands of the international clients who will make Tanzania their destination. The association with Africa Legal was formalised in February 2010, and the firm now enjoys the presence of two English law consultants, Adam Lovett and Nick Zervos.
The firm has a total of 12 fully qualified Tanzanian lawyers, three partners, four associate partners and five legal officers, and its clients include multinationals, private equity funds, financial institutions, banks, national corporations and non-governmental organisations. With a proven track record of advising on and structuring transactions throughout Tanzania and East Africa and extensive specialist knowledge in core industry sectors, it is well placed to service the mining and agricultural sectors to the required international standards.
CRB Africa Legal frequently acts for investment funds and financial institutions investing in, disposing of or restructuring their investments in large scale agri-businesses. It also advises agri-businesses on raising finance, selling assets and on complex labour, environmental and land issues impacting their businesses. Mr Rwechungura has been appointed as arbitrator in several disputes involving investments and infrastructure projects within the agri-sector.
For clients in the mining industries, the firm can assist in all aspects from extraction to processing and export. Financing (including project finance), project development, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, regulation and licensing, assignment of licences, production sharing agreements, concentrate supply, mining and off-take contracts all fall within the lawyers’ expertise. The firm also handles disputes and has acted on a number of arbitrations in the mining and metals sector, and regularly advises on complex labour, environmental and land issues impacting mining operations.
Senior partner Victoria Makani is a specialist in employment, labour law, citizenship and immigration. Victoria and her team regularly assist national and multinational corporations operating in Tanzania with their labour and immigration issues. Services include advising on employment disputes, drafting and reviewing employee contracts and policies and advising on employee taxation compliance.
CRB Africa Legal’s energy team includes lawyers with years of experience advising on the financing, structuring, development and implementation of a range of power generation and power distribution projects. Environmental law specialists support the firm’s work in the mining, telecoms, agricultural and power sectors, while the banking team acts for banks, credit, micro-credit and other financial institutions, as well as corporations raising finance. The company has advised several banks on obtaining Tanzanian Central Bank licences and establishing green-field operations in Tanzania, and the M&A team has also advised on the acquisition of stakes in existing banking businesses across East Africa.