A Deeper Look at Africa’s Most Influential General Counsel Lawyers
In the dynamic, fluid and multifaceted business environment of Africa, talented and experienced legal minds are of the utmost importance. Africa is home to some of the most brilliant legal talents specializing in different industries, constantly bracing against the evolving landscape of business laws. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, we profile ten of these most influential GC lawyers dominating Africa today. With their legal acumen, they are shaping the continent’s business landscape.
In this feature, we introduce you to these professionals with a brief biography and highlight some of their noteworthy accomplishments in the industries they serve. As it will become clear, these lawyers hold a profound understanding and mastery of their respective sectors, providing invaluable legal guidance and strategic planning that is shaping the course of their companies and by extension, Africa’s business landscape.
Note that the inclusion of a lawyer in this list is based on their influence in their respective firms and industries, the complexity and magnitude of the legal challenges they deal with, and the extent of their contributions to legal thought leadership within and beyond their sectors..
As the General Counsel of African Rainbow Capital, a private equity group that is black-owned and controlled, Marlene Jennings has been a catalyst for some of the continent’s most influential developments. Since joining African Rainbow Capital in 2016, Jennings has seen the firm through its 2017 listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the acquisition of the majority share of the Commonwealth Bank of South Africa, along with a number of other strategic transactions.
Johannesburg-based Charles Wheeler serves as the General Counsel of Absa Bank. He joined the group’s executive committee in 2013 and has since continued to be a central figure in Africa’s Financial industry.
Nkateko Nyoka , Chief Officer: Legal & Regulatory at Vodacom, has been a part of the group executive committee since 2010. He has been involved in significant transactions and projects, including a ZAR17.5 billion BEE transaction in 2018 which is amongst the standout events of his tenure at Vodacom.
Adenike Laoye has committed over 25 years to Ecobank. By 2019, Adenike had assumed the position of Chief of Staff & Group Head, Corporate Communications, after mostly serving as Chief Legal Counsel/Company Secretary. Laoye’s leadership has corresponded with considerable bank expansion, now covering thirty-six jurisdictions across Africa, and representative offices in Beijing, Dubai, and London.
Haydn Hillestad, a recognized legal professional, serves as the Head of Legal for Africa for Perth-based mining and metals company South32.
AfricInvest is one of the most exciting private equity companies in Africa with over USD1.5 billion of assets spread across more than fifteen African countries. The legal navigation required for this vast operation is led by Rafik Mzah.
Charles Vikisi joined retail giant Edcon in 2008 as General Counsel and Group Secretary, and has been at the heart of its legal activity ever since, making him a standout in-house legal professional in South Africa’s market.
Fred Waithaka returned to Safaricom in 2017 as the Head of Legal and Secretarial Services after spending five years as Regional Counsel and then Head of Legal at Seacom Ltd.
Since its establishment in 2001, IHS Towers has seen great success and rapid expansion across Africa, from its beginnings in Nigeria to now spanning Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Zambia and Rwanda. A key architect behind this expansion is Mustafa Tharoo.
Vuyo Kahla is the Executive Director and Executive Vice President: Advisory, Assurance & Supply Chain at Johannesburg-headquartered and listed chemical and energy company Sasol, and also serves as the chairman of Sasol South Africa.
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