South African based Shantel Mufandaidza grew up in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe for most of her childhood. She later attained her LLB at the University of Fort Hare, South Africa and specialises in Corporate and Commercial Law, Dispute Resolution, Construction Law, Oil and Gas as well as Labour Law. This rising star is no stranger to complex commercial agreements and transactions, having worked on various projects for state-owned entities, municipalities and private companies.
Have you always wanted to be a lawyer?
Yes! However, growing up, it was a toss-up between being a lawyer and an architect. Looking back, I tend to draw parallels between law and architecture. Structuring an agreement is like creating a blueprint of a building and once the agreement is done and completed, that in itself is a complete building. I always want to make sure that my clients get the most favourable outcome from whatever transaction I am involved in. I want them to realize that lawyers are more than just paperwork and invoices and build long lasting relationships.
What do you love about your job?
I love the different people I get to interact with each day, because I get to learn to something new. Each project comes with different challenges and that’s what keeps things interesting. I have worked on various projects and I think the one that stands out for me was when I drafted my first Production Sharing Contract / Agreement (PSC). This was an eye opener for me in terms of interpreting other countries’ regulations as I had not been previously exposed to that. It was overwhelming at first, but once I got over that it felt great to be able to apply the law in such a manner, something a law firm down the road wouldn’t be able to do.
What do enjoy doing outside of work?
I love going to church, reading and sightseeing. I’m a big fan of exploring the Gauteng province – it is full of gems. I’m currently reading “Gangster State” by Pieter- Louis Myburgh.
What are 5 things every African investor should know?
- The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s World Investment Report of 2019 indicates that foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa rose to US$ 46 billion in 2018 – an increase of 11% from the previous year. It’s a clear indication that investor confidence in Africa is on the increase. The recently signed African Continental Free Trade Area agreement will also increase regional cooperation in terms of doing business on the continent.
- Any investor wishing to do business in Africa needs to know and understand the lay of the land. One needs to know how the laws and regulations of that particular country are; what laws govern the type of industry they want to venture into and the processes involved in doing so. You cannot operate a machine without reading its manual and understanding how it works, likewise, laws and regulations are a country’s manual and one must seek to understand them first.
- The ease of doing business in that country. This also ties into my second point. Understanding the market one in venturing into. The limitations, if any, of said market and how to overcome them.
- Africa is digitising and thus making the ease of doing business on the continent a lot easier. Some countries such as Equatorial Guinea are creating “One-Stop-Shops” that assist investors in registering companies as well as the necessary tax registrations. We have countries like South Africa where you can register a company online without leaving your living room.
- There are 54 diverse markets on the continent. Africa is diversifying into other industries such as Information Technology, and not just commodities, there is room for investors to channel their investments into these industries.
What are the gems in Africa’s Energy sector (oil & gas)?
Africa is very rich in oil and gas reserves and the time to invest in Africa is now. The Human Capital in Africa is our pride – we have so many intelligent and well-equipped people on the continent. One interesting thing I was not aware of before venturing into the Oil and Gas industry and I am sure most people are not aware of, is that crude oil is graded, from Nile Blend which is light and sweet to Dar Blend which is heavy and sour. Another interesting fact is that South Sudan’s crude oil is being imported by some of the largest crude importers in the world with China making up to 60-70% of the import.
Your job requires you to travel to a lot. What is your favourite destination so far?
I fell in love with South Sudan, the people are very friendly and welcoming. The country has so much to offer to the world.
What is your favourite quote?
“In all that you do, do well” from Ecclesiastes 9:10 in the Bible. This was my primary school’s motto and it has stuck with me since.
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