Upcoming Breakfast Briefings
CANCELLED, to be rescheduled:
North Korea: will there be war?
Date: TBC | Location: London
Tensions surrounding Korea are dangerously high, with global reactions confused and answers unforthcoming. As Kim Jong-un continues to regularly test improved missiles — and most recently a hydrogen bomb — Donald Trump is starting to echo Pyongyang in militant rhetoric, whilst US policy is unclear and filled with mixed signals. China and Russia have highlighted they will not countenance the Kim regime’s collapse, whereas South Korea’s new liberal leader, President Moon Jae-in, wants to bring back the ‘sunshine’ policy of engaging the North, which has been scorned by both Trump and Kim. Finally, the UN Security Council recently tightened sanctions in its eighth major resolution censuring the DPRK despite the first seven being ineffectual. So, where is all this headed?
We will be holding this Breakfast Briefing in association with our partners Beazley, in the City. Breakfast will also be provided.
The presentation will cover the following topics:
- The reasons behind North Korea’s unfaltering drive for WMD and whether this can be curbed.
- Regime change, Pyongyang: how does Kim Jong-un differ from his father Kim Jong-il?
- Regime change, Washington: can Trump succeed where all his predecessors have failed?
- Another year and another Korea crisis, but should we be paying more attention to this one?
- How and why North Korea’s economy grew faster than the South’s last year?
- Can fresh diplomacy resolve the crisis and on what basis might dialogue resume?
Aidan Foster-Carter – is Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Sociology and Modern Korea at Leeds University. His interest in North Korea dates back to 1968. Since 1997 he has been a full-time analyst and consultant on Korea: writing, lecturing and broadcasting on political, economic and security issues in both Koreas for academic, business and policy audiences in the UK and worldwide.
Richard Lloyd has worked with China Policy for over two years, covering technology, industry and foreign policy. Richard graduated with a First class honours degree from the University of Oxford in Chinese Studies. He travelled to North Korea from Beijing in December 2015, and pays close attention to developments in China-North Korea relations.
Past Breakfast Briefings
Nigeria: the lead up to the 2019 Presidential elections, a panel discussion
Date: Thursday 28 September 2017 | Location: London
Due to unforeseen circumstances Patrick Smith is no longer able to speak at this event. In his place we have put together a panel to analyse Nigeria’s current situation and the short to medium-term future in the run-up to the 2019 presidential elections.
Our speakers are:
Nina Bowyer – Corporate & Energy Projects, Partner & Co-head Africa Group, Herbert Smith Freehills, Paris
Stuart Culverhouse – Chief Economist and Global Head of Research, Exotix Partners LLP, London
Jerome Okolo – General Secretary, National Think Tank (Nigeria), and Executive Vice Chairman, GeoQinetiq Ltd, Abuja and Lagos
For the Q&A session they will be joined by:
Chief John Nnia Nwodo – lawyer, economist, and former minister. He currently serves as the President-General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo (the leading socio-cultural organisation that represents and protects global Igbo rights and interests).
Saudi Arabia: Political, Economic, Regional Policies, and Qatar
Date: Thursday 27 July 2017 | Location: London
The campaign against Qatar is the latest example of more assertive approach in regional politics first seen in the war against Yemen and associated with Prince Muhammad bin Salman, now the heir apparent. In the light of these regional changes we will be holding an evening seminar, followed by a drinks reception, to discuss a variety of points.
The presentation will cover the following topics:
- The campaign against Qatar, and Doha’s response
- Developments in the regional conflict with Iran
- Stalemate and likely outcomes in Yemen
- The prospects for achieving NTP 2020 and Vision 2030 and the likely consequences of success or failure
Dr. Nader Alyani
Náder is Menas Associates’ Gulf region lead. His academic, consulting and managerial activities focus on capability development, facilitating risk analytics with inter-professional judgement, and implementing innovation for strategic alignment in firms. His career has spanned positions in the public and private sector in London and abroad, and as an adviser to MNCs (on FDIs, PPP and local content), having served with research, consulting and policy-design and implementation institutions.
Dr. Noel Brehony
Noel sat as Chair of the Council for British Research in the Levant, and was former chair of the British Society for Middle East Studies, the British Yemeni Society; the Anglo-Jordanian society and the Middle East Association. He co-edited “British-Egyptian Relations from Suez to the Present Day”, was author of “Yemen Divided: the story of a failed state in South Arabia”, published in March 2011. Noel is also co-editor of “Reconstructing Yemen”, which was published in 2015.
Explaining Egypt, its Economy, and Outlook
Date: Tuesday 27 June 2017 | Location: London
In the six years since the January 2011 uprising, Egypt’s economy has continued to underperform. However, since the long-needed flotation of the Egyptian Pound in November 2016, there has been a resurgence of interest from both direct and indirect investors. We shall review: the restructuring that has undertaken so far; the likely areas for reform; and the challenges faced by the Egyptian government as it seeks to revive investment and economic growth.
The presentation will cover the following topics:
- The restructuring of the Egyptian economy since 2016, including the flotation of the Egyptian Pound
- The more likely economic reforms in the next two to three years
- The challenges for the government, including excessive population growth and high rates of inflation
- The economic and political outlook
Angus Blair — Menas Associates’ lead Egypt consultant, and author of our Egypt Politics & Security publication.
He began his career with a distinguished period in the City of London before working in the financial services sector of both Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Angus founded and manages a leading Cairo-based financial consultancy company, and is the COO of a local investment bank.
Previously, he has been head of equities and later also of sales and trading, for a number of emerging markets and ING Barings and the ABN AMRO, based in London. He headed the team which started the first coverage of the Arab stock markets by a global investment bank.
Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa bust: the risks of conflict and social unrest ahead of the 2020 elections
Date: Thursday 18 May 2017 | Location: London
Cocoa prices have recently fallen in Côte d’Ivoire, already causing some decline in the foundational sector of the Ivoirian economy. Consequently, social unrest has increased and political risks are seen as having risen. At a time when a still fragile peace had seemingly been consolidated, these issues could compromise the stability of the country.
The presentation will cover the following topics:
- Which outcomes are most and least likely?
- Can investors continue to be bullish on Côte d’Ivoire, or should they have more “realistic views” on all possible outcomes of present uncertain social context?
- How can investors prepare for possible uncertainties ahead?
Brian Klaas — Our primary Côte d’Ivoire expert is a Fellow in Comparative Politics at the London School of economics, where he focuses on African politics, elections, and political violence. Brian received his DPhil at the University of Oxford
He has experience in both NGO and commercial consultancy work, including for the International Crisis group and the Carter Centre. He was formerly Malachite consulting’s lead consultant on Madagascar analysing the 2013 elections, as well as advising on risks to investment.
Leïla Hubeaut — Leïla is a partner at Herbert Smith Freehills’ Paris office and has built significant experience advising on mergers, acquisitions and disposals, joint ventures and project development, principally within the power, mining, hydrocarbons and infrastructure sectors. Leïla has a particular focus on Francophone North and sub-Saharan Africa.
Does the future of globalisation depend on China?
Date: Friday 28 April 2017 | Location: London
The China Policy speakers will analyse how President Xi Jinping will use this autumn’s 19th Party Congress to further consolidate his power. It will look at what that means for: the progress of the domestic reform programme; tackling major economic and social issues; and for a more assertive role in global affairs in light of recent developments in both the US and Europe.
The presentation will cover the following areas:
- Xi Jinping will take a major step in consolidating his power at the 19th Party Congress and he will need to as the economic clouds gather
- The progress of key reforms will always come second to the ultimate priority of maintaining social and political stability. Rhetoric about ‘supply side reform’ will therefore run ahead of bellwether reforms in areas such as the state owned enterprises, debt management, and local government financing
- It is important to realise that the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ is a domestic policy despite its geostrategic consequences
- There are some black, or at least grey, swans in China’s foreign relations that could affect foreign investors in the coming 12 months: the Trump factor, Brexit, North Korea, and, greyest of all, the environment
Charles Parton spent 22 of 37 years as a diplomat, first for the British Government and latterly for the EU working in or on China. He has had postings in the British Embassy in Beijing working on trade and economic matters, in Hong Kong in the team negotiating the 1997 handover, and in the EU Delegation in Beijing as its expert on the domestic politics of China. He speaks and reads Chinese fluently. Other postings have included Afghanistan, Cyprus, Libya and temporary duty in Mali. He is now based in London working with China Policy and Menas Associates.
Richard Lloyd has been working as a Research Manager at China Policy for two years, covering technology and industry policy. Richard’s research includes strategic emerging industries and Made in China 2025. Richard graduated with a First class honours degree from the University of Oxford in Chinese Studies.
East Africa: Two Steps Forward, One Step Backward
Date: Wednesday 22 March 2017 | Location: London
Most East African countries have registered increased economic growth and investment in the last decade with visible large infrastructure projects. However, in spite of the often lauded ‘Africa Rising’ narrative, increasing income inequalities and security threats continue to impede governance and development. This presentation hopes to highlight East Africa’s progress and challenges towards prosperity.
The presentation will cover the following areas:
- A general overview of the political, security and economic situation
- The rise of the developmental state in Tanzania
- What would Magufuli do? Tanzania after Magufuli prospects
- Al-Shabaab and the security implications in Kenya and Uganda
- Impact of infrastructure projects like the Standard Gauge Rail (SGR) and the LAPSSET corridor
- Kenya’s ‘winner takes all’ politics and Uganda’s ‘movementocracy’ prospects
- Prospects of the 2017 elections in Kenya
Njoki Wamai is a Gates Cambridge Scholar who has recently completed a PhD in Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge. She focused on the politics of intervention in Kenya with regards to the International Criminal Court. Njoki has previously worked in governance, security and development think tanks and charities in Kenya as a researcher. She has consulted for the United Nation’s Development Programme and the Women’s entity, UNIFEM on youth and women’s inclusion. She is a contributor of leading Kenyan dailies and online blogs such as the This is Africa, Pambazuka News and the Huffington Post. She is an alumnus of the University of Nairobi and King’s College London.
Tom Gray is Menas Associates’ Regional Analyst for Sub-Saharan Africa. In this role, he manages and edits all SSA publications; recruits authors and consultants; and writes analysis pieces on events in the region. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Manchester and an MPhil in African Studies from the University of Cambridge, where he focused on politics, conflict and law. Tom’s interests in Africa stem from his work and travel in Tanzania. Burundi is his particular country of interest, along with eastern Africa, South Sudan, the Great Lakes region, and Nigeria more generally. Tom has expertise on the African Union and its security and developmental role on the continent. He speaks basic French and Swahili.
Cyber Security – Markets, Risks and Hackers
Date: Thursday 02 March 2017 | Location: London
Over the last 25 years, the Internet has evolved from small-scale exchanges between defence organisations to a global vehicle for communications, service delivery, commerce, and marketing. Cyber security has paralleled this growth. It has evolved from one-upmanship between geeks to a global problem involving organised crime, fraud, extortion, theft, state-sponsored espionage, cyber-warfare, and a free-for-all for hobbyists, stalkers, terrorists, and hacktivists.
For many organisations – banks, trading houses, brokers, lawyers, on-line retailers and governments – it is now the dominant business risk. But many –mostly outside the FTSE250 – have not yet addressed the issue in full. There is increasing regulatory pressure on boards to respond and in November 2016, the UK Government announced a £1.9 billion National Cyber Programme. It mandated that all its suppliers meet the Cyber Essentials standard. There is also now an emerging cyber-insurance market that is driving quantification of risk and requiring clients to implement much stronger measures before they can be insured.
This Breakfast Briefing, led by a cyber security company CEO, will give an overview of cyber-crime and prevention measures before looking at the mind-set of the hacker and using this, rather than just technical measures, to design more effective prevention.
Stuart Bladen studied Engineering at Oxford University and joined the nuclear industry where he qualified as a Chartered Engineer. He then finished an MBA at London Business School before joining PricewaterhouseCoopers where he advised utility companies and implemented large-scale computer systems for military logistics and government procurement.
Stuart Bladen was appointed CEO of Falanx Group Ltd* in October 2016. But previously has held senior positions at Hewlett Packard, Hitachi and Unisys among others.
*Falanx Group Limited (ticker: FLX) is an AIM-listed cyber security and intelligence provider based in London, United Kingdom. They are a world-leading team of security professionals and technology experts who work in close partnership with blue chip and government clients to help them defend against a wide range of global security threats.
Ghana: A smooth transition precedes the hard work ahead
Date: Friday 27 January 2017 | Location: London
After the presidential and parliamentary elections on 7 December tested Ghana’s track record of political pluralism and stability, the winning team led by three time candidate Nana Akufo-Addo will have to turn its attention to an economy hit hard by crashing commodity prices, rising unemployment and the regional slowdown. With Ghana signed up to an economic reform programme with the IMF and foreign debts levels at over 70% of gross domestic product, the new government inaugurated in January 2017 will have little room for manoeuvre. But it remains a popular investment destination and a politically progressive force on the continent.
Editorial director of Africa Confidential and Editor of Nigeria Focus Patrick Smith, who has been covering the election campaign in Ghana and their aftermath, will look at the challenges confronting the new government:
- Consolidating power across the country after the election tensions
- Delivering on promises to tackle fast-rising youth unemployment
- Servicing and managing a ballooning foreign and domestic debt burden
- Wide-ranging reform of the mining and oil and gas sectors to boost production and processing capacity
- Sharply increasing investment in development of educational, vocational training and health service capacity
Patrick Smith – Our Lead Ghana consultant is editor and publisher of our monthly Nigeria Focus publication and Africa Confidential, a fortnightly newsletter reporting and analysing political and economic developments in Africa. Subscribers include the UN, the World Bank, the IMF the late Nelson Mandela, African and Western Governments, among others.
He lived in Accra and Lagos throughout the 1980s when he was West African Correspondent for Associated Press. He wrote extensively for the guardian, the Observer, and Economist Intelligence Unit, and filed news and feature reports for BBC television and radio.
Nina Bowyer – Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills – Nina is the global co-head of the firm’s Africa practice group and has over 10 years’ experience working on transactions in Africa. Based in our Paris office, Nina works with a broad range of clients on single and multi-jurisdictional mergers, acquisitions and disposals, joint venture structuring, project development and related financing arrangements in the oil, gas, power and mining sectors. Her practice focuses in particular on transactions and projects across West Africa, including Ghana, where she is currently advising on the implementation and development of projects in the mining sector and various opportunities across the power sector.
Brazil: a light at the end of the tunnel?
Date: Thursday 1 December 2016 | Location: London
The tumultuous political and economic events of the past months have highlighted a number of deep-rooted problems in Brazil’s polity and economy, including corruption, governance, governability and economic mismanagement. What is the new government doing to address these problems and how likely is it to succeed? And, what are the prospects for the 2018 election? The talk will address these questions within the context of short-term developments and long-term trends in Brazil’s politics and economy.
The breakfast briefing will address:
- The root causes of the recent political crisis.
- The strength and weaknesses of the Temer administration.
- The priorities for the economy.
- Prospects for political reform.
- The recent municipal elections and the 2018 presidential election.
Francisco Panizza is Professor in Latin American and Comparative Politics in the Department of Government of the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has written extensively about contemporary developments in Latin American politics, particularly on the countries of the Southern Cone. He has followed Brazilian politics for the past 30 years. He is a frequent contributor to major international news networks including the BBC, CNN and Sky News.
Iraq: the battle for Mosul and beyond
Date: Tuesday 8 November 2016 | Location: London
Iraq has made huge strides in its battle against Islamic State (IS) over the past months. It has done so against the odds given the complete breakdown of the political process both in Baghdad and Erbil. Yet as it gears up for the all-important battle for Mosul, the ousting of Islamic State (IS) is finally starting to look like a reality.
While this is clearly welcome news, victory in Mosul will not work as a panacea for Iraq. Rather, it will amplify many of the existing problems that have ravaged the country for years, as well as throw up a whole new set of challenges, many of them even more intractable. Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divisions, chaotic security arena, broken polity and seemingly interminable conflict between Baghdad and Erbil will all need to be dealt with if Iraq is to get back on its feet again. So too will the endless meddling by regional powers. Indeed, how Iraq navigates the aftermath of the Mosul campaign will be crucial to its future as a unified state.
This talk will examine the issues facing Iraq, including the KRG, as it enters what will be its most important battle yet and will discuss whether in the face of all these challenges it will be able to hold itself together.
Alison Pargeter – Our Lead expert on Iraq and Kurdistan, Alison has been with Menas for over 10 years, and has followed the country and the wider MENA region for much longer. She is widely published and specialises in political Islam and radicalisation.
She has held positions at universities including the University of Cambridge and King’s College London. She is also a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), as well as being a Senior Associate at Means.
International Organisations she has worked for include the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence, Department for International Development (DFID), IAEA, NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Freedom House, and other European governments.
Ahmed Tabaqchali, CIO of AFC Iraq Fund, is an experienced Capital Markets professional with over 22 years experiences in US and MENA markets. Currently a board member of the Credit Bank of Iraq. He is a former Executive Director of NBK Capital, the investment banking arm of the National Bank of Kuwait as head of Brokerage.
Ahmed has an M. Sc. in Mathematics from Oxford University in the UK, a B.Sc. (Hons, 1st class) in Mathematics from Victoria University in New Zealand and a B.Sc. in Mathematics from Canterbury University in New Zealand. Ahmed is an Iraqi & a British national.
Ethiopia: Africa’s China?
Date: Tuesday 11 October 2016 | Location: London
The pace of economic change in Ethiopia over the last fifteen years has been staggering. A country — known largely for its catastrophic famines — has emerged as the fastest growing economy in Africa, and one of the fastest in the world. This is not simply down to a commodity price boom. Ethiopia has few marketable minerals, and growth has been broadly based on agriculture, communications, and increasingly light manufacturing. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, now under advanced construction, will become Africa’s biggest source of hydroelectricity, and the country is making a major push for FDI, especially in manufacturing.
The big question is whether this growth is sustainable. The government has a major commitment to the project, and is investing in both the physical infrastructure (transport, electricity) and the social infrastructure (education, health) needed to maintain it.
There are nonetheless significant obstacles. The economic ones relate especially to the roles of the public and private sectors, and the need for the public sector to relax what has hitherto been a dominant role, in order for the domestic and external private sector to take the leading role in boosting production. Given the hierarchical tendencies entrenched in Ethiopian governance, this is a matter as much of social attitudes as of government policy.
The more pressing problems, however, are political. The country has recently experienced widespread social protests, and the government faces a difficult balancing act. It will need to combine an essential level of public support — even within a non-democratic structure — with the maintenance of effective policymaking. The next few years, or even months, will prove critical to the success of the Ethiopian experiment.
Professor Christopher Clapham is based at the Centre of African Studies at Cambridge University. Now retired, he has written extensively on the politics and international relations of Africa. His particular focus is the Horn of Africa and especially Ethiopia. His latest book, The Horn of Africa: State Creation and Decay, 1991-2016 will be published by Hurst and Co early in 2017.
Algeria’s economic crisis: the way in and the way out
Date: Wednesday 21 September 2016 | Location: London
Algeria is facing its greatest political and economic crisis since the 1990s’ civil war, and the situation could still get worse.
The regime’s failure to diversify the economy is turning reduced oil revenues into a profound economic crisis.
Whilst many commentators believe that it is too late to reform the Algerian economy, this talk considers the ‘positives’ that are beginning to emerge and that suggest the country and its economy still offer opportunities for foreign investors. There is an urgent need for foreign investment in a number of sectors and industries that have been hitherto largely ignored but could offer a ‘way out’ of the crisis.
This more optimistic scenario requires significant political, economic and cultural change. The shock of collapsing oil prices has yet to galvanise the regime into enacting the necessary reforms. It will need to do so quickly to ensure a more positive future.
This Breakfast Briefing will address:
- the inter-relation between the economic and political crises in Algeria;
- the reasons behind and the nature of the regime’s in-fighting, with a particular focus on the following perennial question: Who and what sort of regime will succeed the ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika?;
- the measures that the regime is belatedly implementing to tackle the economic crisis, including structural changes such as diversification, financial reforms, business deregulation and liberalisation;
- the significant opportunities that exist for the foreign investors who understand the country, make committed partnerships, and are willing to take a risk.
Jeremy Keenan is Visiting Professor in the School of Law, Queen Mary’s University, London (QMUL). He is also Professorial Research fellow at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). A recognised expert on the Sahara-Sahel and Algeria, where he began his studies in 1964, Keenan has around 350 publications to his name, including 7 books on the Sahara and a further three in progress. He is a recognised authority on the region’s political and security situation and briefs the British and US governments, the EU, UN, NATO, several international agencies and numerous media organisations (BBC, RFI, France24, VOA, Reuters, etc.). He is the author of three of Menas’ publications: Algeria Politics & Security, Algeria Focus and Sahara Focus.
Laurence Franc-Menget joined the disputes group in Paris in 2008 after a few years in a French law firm. She has extensive international arbitration experience and has acted in both ad hoc and institutional arbitrations (including ICC, UNCITRAL, ICSID, AFA, and SCC arbitrations). In particular, she has been involved as counsel in disputes on corporate issues, joint ventures, construction and distribution contracts as well as in investment disputes involving sovereign States.
Laurence also acts as an arbitrator. She appears before French Courts, in international private law disputes and in cases arising from arbitration (i.e. jurisdiction issues, enforcement and setting aside of arbitral awards).
The GCC states: political challenges and low oil prices
Date: Thursday 28 July 2016 | Location: London
In association with international insurance firm Beazley
Saudi Arabia and the other GCC states face challenges posed by lower oil prices, growing populations and rising expectations. The Saudi national transformation plan exposes the scale of reform that is necessary – and being contemplated. Implementation will require determined leadership and test the country’s administrative capacity. The wider region is affected by the aftermath of the Arab Spring leading to greater GCC involvement in the civil conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq and assisting Cairo to deal with the aftermath of turbulence Egypt. Relations with Iran remain tense and there has been some reassessment of relations with traditional allies, including the US. GCC unity has been strained as the GCC states react differently to these developments.
Covering all GCC states but with a focus on Saudi Arabia, the briefing will:
- Analyse the various internal and external challenges
- Examine how governments are dealing with rising political and economic risk
- Assess how this will affect their investment climate.
Dr Noel Brehony is former diplomat and former Director of Middle East Affairs for Rolls-Royce and has been Chair of Menas Associates since 2000. He is a former chairman of the Middle East Association, the British Society for Middle East Studies and is currently chair of the Council for British Research in the Levant. He co-edited a Rebuilding Yemen with Saud al-Sarhan published by Gerlach and the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies in 2016 and was author of Yemen Divided published in.
Argentina: Open for Business
Date: Tuesday 19 July 2016 | Location: London
In association with international law firm Kennedys
The inauguration of Mauricio Macri as Argentina’s president in December 2015 marked the first time in decades that the South American giant has elected a leader who genuinely believes in a market-oriented economy.
In the wake of this sea change, the opportunities for international investors are both large and varied. Moving away from the protectionist policies of the Kirchner administration, all sectors will now have to adjust to a more open and less regulated economy.
At the same time, Argentinian companies will face domestic and world-class foreign competition both at home and abroad.
These changes will force them to seek foreign partners that can provide them with capital and technology. In addition, the government will call for bids on large infrastructure projects and services, and international players will be warmly welcomed.
Argentina’s assets are still relatively inexpensive compared with those of its South American neighbours. Investors should remember that ‘the early bird catches the worm’ because this will change as foreign investment accelerates and Argentinian funds are repatriated back home.
This Breakfast Briefing will analyse:
- President Macri’s approach to the economy
- The current structure of Argentina’s political system and its possible evolution
- Argentina’s return to the international stage
- Macri’s approach to Mercosur, Mercosur-European Union negotiations, TPP, and the Malvinas-Falklands issue
- Opportunities and risks for the energy and mining sectors, including exchange rates, price structures, and the rules for public tenders for alternative energy projects
Speaker: Carlos Regúnaga is an Argentinian lawyer and Menas Associates’ lead Argentina expert. He has undertaken research and held academic posts at universities including: the Universidad de Buenos Aires; New York University; Princeton University; Universidad de Belgrano; and the Lutheran University of Brazil.
Regúnaga has served in public office as Chief of the Cabinet of Advisors to the Secretary of Commerce. He was previously president at Digital Angel S. A, before which he was a legal advisor and board member of several corporations belonging to the Bridas Group.
He is currently director of the Argentina office of the Center for Strategic & International Studies; a consultant at the Consejo Argentino para las Relaciones Internacionales; and director of International, Scientific, and Cultural Integration Studies of the Amílcar Argüelles Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Buenos Aires.
South Africa: navigating the current challenges in search of future opportunities
Date: Tuesday 5 July 2016 | Location: London
South Africa is currently going through turbulent times. The Rand remains weak, the ruling ANC party is in the middle of an increasingly vicious internal faction fight, allegations of state capture abound, the risk of a downgrade to junk status looms large, and violent protests have shut down communities across the country in the run-up to the August elections.
As well as all of the negative news, however, the last few months have also seen a number of very positive blows struck in favour of the country’s democratic institutions. In March 2016, for example, a Constitutional Court judgment found that President Jacob Zuma had ‘failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution’ over the Nkandla issue. In April the North Gauteng High Court declared invalid the 2009 decision to discontinue the prosecution of President Zuma for 783 charges of corruption, racketeering and fraud. While there are short-term uncertainties, therefore, there are strong signs that South Africa has the institutional strength to weather these storms, and significant opportunities exist for those firms that are able to successfully navigate these currently turbulent waters. This Breakfast Briefing will analyse:
- The current state of democracy in South Africa.
- The upcoming local elections and the ANC leadership battle.
- The current political instability and its likely impact on the economy and investment.
- Protest trends, strikes and the continuing problem of contentious labour relations
- And key recent/ongoing legislative changes including:
- The Protection of Investment Act
- The International Arbitration Bill
- The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act Amendment Bill
- The Mining Charter
The main briefing will be followed by an outline of the recent legislative changes in South Africa and the impact on foreign investors from Peter Leon, partner and co-chair of Herbert Smith Freehills’ Africa practice.
Sarah Lockwood is the South Africa consultant for Menas Associates’ ‘Ask our Experts’ service. She is a PhD Candidate and Presidential Scholar at Harvard University, where her research focuses on government accountability and political protest in post-apartheid South Africa. Fluent in French and Swahili, she has also worked extensively as a journalist in the region. Her previous consultancy work with Menas has involved analysing policy developments in South Africa and their impact on the mining and energy industry in the country, as well as providing detailed information on the possibility of further strikes within the mining sector.
Peter Leon co-chairs Herbert Smith Freehills’ Africa practice. Peter is independently rated as one of the world’s pre-eminent mining lawyers and his areas of expertise include mineral and petroleum regulation in developing countries, black economic empowerment and indigenisation law, international investment law and financial services regulation.
Turkey: current challenges and future possibilities
Date: Wednesday 25 May 2016 | Location: London
Turkey is facing unprecedented domestic and regional challenges. These range from: deteriorating security conditions; difficulties responding to changes in its immediate neighbourhood; as well as the domestic political uncertainty as the AKP government seems set on pursuing a presidential system and silencing opposition.
Beyond the headlines, a complex web of factors has created a perfect storm which has derailed the country’s promising developments and stability between 2002-2011.
Now, Turkey is often chastised by its international allies for its democratic lapse, but it is also seen as a sine qua non partner for addressing a wide range of issues facing Europe.
All these factors raise serious questions about Turkey’s future direction and the consequent implications both for foreign policy-makers as well as investors who have a stake in the country’s future.
In this briefing, Ziya Meral will provide an overview of complexities of a country that is often confusing for the outsiders, as well as some scenarios for its future.Speaker
Ziya Meral is a Resident Fellow at the UK Army’s Centre for Historical Research and Conflict Analysis, and founder and director of the Centre on Religion and Global Affairs.
He is a widely-published expert on Turkish and Middle Eastern foreign policies and thematic issues of religion and violent conflict. He has undertaken field research and studies in a wide range of countries including Iran, Egypt, China, Israel, Nigeria, USA, Jordan, Turkey and Canada.
Previous positions include Joseph Crapa Fellow at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, and as a human rights advocate focusing on religious freedom and religious minorities in the Middle East.
Nigeria: after a year of Buhari-nomics and crashing oil prices, what next?
Date: Monday 25 April 2016 | Location: London
In a groundbreaking election in March 2015, Muhammadu Buhari led an opposition coalition to become president, defeating incumbent Goodluck Jonathan. It was a personal victory for Buhari but also for his All Progressives’ Congress, which had won power at the national level – both the executive and the legislature – and pushed the People’s Democratic Party from power for the first time since the return to civil rule in 1999.
On his inauguration on 31 May President, Buhari set out his agenda: item number one was the war against corruption across the government and private sector.
Closely that behind was national security, the fight against the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency, and securing oil and gas production in the Niger Delta, which has been hit by sabotage, oil theft, and piracy.
Third, Buhari sketched out ambitious plans for the radical reform of the state oil company and rapid diversification of the economy to boost agriculture and revive agro-processing and industry across the country.
So far the results sheet has been mixed. Buhari is seen as one of the country’s most credible corruption-fighters and the restructured military has stepped up the fight against Boko Haram but there is far less support for his economic policies which have come under fire multi-national companies, local business and trades unions.
This Breakfast Briefing will analyse:
Successes and failures in the fight against corruption
The government’s new macro-economic economic strategy and the team that is to implement it
The exchange rate debate and trade reform: the policy options under discussion
The imperatives for reform of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas and national energy policy
The new political landscape: in Abuja and in the 36 states
What the new security strategy and reorganisation of the armed forces will mean
Patrick Smith, Editor of Africa Confidential and Menas Associates Nigeria Focus, lives in Paris and spends about half the year reporting from Africa. He was based in West Africa as a correspondent for Associated Press and the BBC for a decade.
The roots and risks of jihadism in North Africa
Date: Thursday 31 March 2016 | Location: London
The questions of why young people fight with the Islamic State group, and what threat they pose when they return, are some of the most pressing in today’s security environment. Behind the lurid videos of atrocities and the shock of terrorist attacks stand young people, drawn mainly from the populations of Middle East and North African states that are overwhelmingly youthful. In this region, issues of economic deprivation and political frustration are fusing to create a potent mix with long-term implications. Our speaker provides a unique perspective, after a year of field research in Tunisia speaking to young men in the economically marginalised neighbourhoods from which extremists recruit. His work has involved conversations with committed jihadist ideologues, close friends and family members of those who have travelled abroad to fight with extremist groups, and those wrestling with the temptation of extremist ideology. Assessments of what threat the Islamic State group can pose, and what whether its appeal and power in the region will grow or wane, can be drawn from the experiences of individual Tunisian men and women. They have profound implications for the entire Middle East. This Breakfast Briefing will analyse:
- Why do people join the Islamic State, and other extremist groups?
- What threat do returning jihadists pose in their countries?
- The future of Islamist militancy, and its appeal to young people
- The risks to foreign assets and individuals in North Africa
- The political environment
Speaker Mike Marcusa is the Tunisia consultant for the ‘Ask our Experts’ service of Menas Associates, and a PhD candidate at Brown University researching dynamics of youth and radicalisation in Tunisia. He is based in Tunis but travels through the poorer interior of the country, where his experiences as an American meeting jihadists have been published in such magazines as the Atlantic.
Understanding Iran: post-sanctions investment in a post-elections landscape
With Pinsent Masons
Date: Thursday 3 March 2016 | Hour: 08:30 – 11:30 | Location: London
Since the beginning of 2016, Iran’s moderate government has scored a number of successes: the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on 16 January 2016, and the consequent lifting of many international sanctions, was followed by a successful visit to Italy and France by President Hassan Rohani during which billions of dollars’ worth of contracts were signed with European firms. There is no doubt that Iran offers extensive opportunities to international companies. However, President Rohani is facing mounting domestic opposition from hardline factions. These used their influence to bar many reformist and moderate candidates from standing in the forthcoming elections for parliament and the Assembly of Experts. At the same time, regional tensions, especially those with Saudi Arabia, are undermining Iran’s political development. This is a paid for event, the fees are as follows:
Early bird (first 30 registrations) – £75+VAT
Standard registration – £125+VAT
Bijan Khajehpour, Menas Associates
- The domestic political dynamics in the aftermath of the twin elections, held on 26 February
- The outlook for the country’s political and economic developments.
- The risks and opportunities facing international companies investing in Iran will be evaluated.
Fleur Cowan, US Embassy
- General US policy towards Iran
- US sanctions relief towards Iran post- Implementation Day and remaining restrictions
- Non-sanctions barriers to trade in Iran and regional issues
George Booth, Pinsent Masons
- Structuring your investment into Iran
- Iran law for international investors
- The legal environment – the oil and gas sector
Investing in a revolving Egypt
Date: Wednesday 10 February 2016 | Location: London
Investing in a revolving Egypt
Egypt has undergone enormous political and economic changes since the January 2011 uprising, and the repercussions will continue to impact Egypt’s evolving political and investment landscape.
The increasing stresses within the economy, compounded by the quickly-growing population and high inflation rates, are felt by foreign investors facing foreign currency shortages and capital controls. The general level of risk has risen.
However, these issues also mask some very significant strengths, not least in the very low levels of private sector and household debt and an exceptionally vibrant informal sector, which have kept the economy growing. With the largest consumer market in the Middle East and North Africa, Egypt has also seen significant foreign direct investment, not least in the consumer and energy sectors. Much more is needed, and planned.
With a new parliament now sitting, Egypt also has an accountable political body. This will now, along with President Abdelfattah El-Sisi and the cabinet, need to take some tough political decisions to achieve further economic reform.
This Breakfast Briefing will analyse:
- The overall economic background and outlook
- The major stresses in the economy and whether the government will do enough to diminish them
- A review of the positive areas for investors, including the oil and gas and consumer sectors, as well as various infrastructure schemes, including the development of the Suez Canal zone
- The outlook for foreign direct investors
- The political environment
Angus Blair, the author of Menas Associates’ ‘Egypt Politics & Security’ publication, began his career with a distinguished period in the City of London before working in the financial services sector of both Egypt and Saudi Arabia. He lives in Cairo, where he founded and manages the Signet Institute and is the COO of Pharos Bank. Angus has covered the MENA region for more than twenty years, advising private clients as well as international organisations.
The event will be hosted by Craig Tevendale. Craig is an Arabic-speaking disputes partner from Herbert Smith Freehills. He has lived in the Middle East and has extensive experience of cases relating to Egypt and the Arab world.
Angola: Crisis and Repression or Resilience and Growth?
Date: Thursday 28 January 2016 | Location: London
The recent oil price shock has hit Angola particularly hard. The country’s currency has lost almost a third of its value in the past year on official exchanges and even more on parallel markets. Restrictions on foreign currency have been put in place while deep cuts were made to the 2015 budget – particularly in new public investment. At the same time, the government has been embarrassed by high profile attention on recent crackdowns against dissent and what may be growing social unrest.
While the country’s economic situation is indeed severe, many analysts have also found signs that Angola is weathering this storm better than expected. This may be an indication of a strengthened non-oil economy and more economic diversification than was previously recognised. Signs of greater resilience in Angola’s economy and in Africa’s response to the end of the commodities boom more generally suggest a need to probe more deeply into local content policies and other state-led development.
This Breakfast Briefing will analyse:
- The impact of lower oil prices on the economy
- The level of resilience and strength of the non-oil economy
- Local content policies and state-led development
- The role of local elite and climate for foreign investment
- Rising political tensions and social unrest
Jesse Salah Ovadia is a Lecturer in International Political Economy at Newcastle University and Director of the MA in Globalization, Poverty and Development. Focusing on the political economy of oil and development in Angola, Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea of Africa, he writes about local content policies and their role in linking oil extraction to industrial development and economic growth in the non-oil economy. Ovadia has also acted as a consultant for the DFID project Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform in Nigeria (FOSTER) and for private companies in Angola promoting local content. His new book, The Petro-Developmental State in Africa: Making Oil Work in Angola, Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea, will be available in December 2015 from Hurst Publishers and a forthcoming edited book, Energy, Capitalism and World Order: Toward a New Agenda in International Political Economy, will be available in January 2016 from Palgrave Macmillan.
Middle East & North Africa 2016: Intervention and investment
Date: Thursday 10 December 2015 | Location: London
The past year has seen clear trends emerge from half a decade of instability in the Middle East & North Africa. By reviewing them, this talk will offer a frank assessment of the direction that this diverse, difficult, and indispensable region will take in 2016.
The year of the Islamic State group, the migrant crisis, and cheap oil has showed how the challenges of the region will not remain confined within its borders. But outside powers are being drawn in by investment opportunities, as well as by security challenges.
A drive to attract business towards North Africa, as well as the prospect of a post-sanctions Iran, offers the chance of a new horizon for companies. The region needs investment to achieve stability, but we can also expect efforts to force order on the MENA states in 2016. With world powers once again intervening, and regional states pursing their own policies, now is the time to ask who the spoils may go to, and what developments will set the trends in the year to come.
This Breakfast Briefing will analyse:
- Drives to attract investment, and deter instability, in North Africa
- The prospects and timing for a post-sanctions Iran
- The chances of resolving the conflicts in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen
- The terrorist threat from the Islamic State group and others
- Intervention and its outcome: The US, Europe, Russia, the Gulf, and Iran
Nicholas Wade is a Senior Associate at Menas Associates, and the Regional Manager for the Middle East & North Africa. He previously worked as the BBC’s Middle East Analyst, providing a single point of factual reference for the whole corporation, and was formerly a journalist for World Service radio as well as a several other news outlets. Nicholas has two degrees specialising in Middle East studies from Cambridge University, and learned Arabic while living in Jordan during 2011 and 2012.
Kazakhstan: Surfing uncertainty, ensuring stability and tapping new business opportunities
Date: Wednesday 4 November 2015 | Location: London
Since 1991, when it won its independence from the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan has been Central Asia’s most politically stable and economically dynamic country, and has been blessed with large new discoveries of hydrocarbons and mineral reserves. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has managed to ensure steady economic growth and has built trust-based relationships with key regional and external powers. His multi-vector foreign policy, plus an emphasis on region-wide integration, have made Kazakhstan a magnet for foreign investment in Central Asia.
Kazakhstan weathered the 2008-2009 global financial crisis relatively well — being aided by substantial financial reserves that it had accumulated over the years — but the past year’s collapse in oil and mineral prices is a major challenge to its future stability. The country remains heavily dependent on export revenues from the vital oil and gas sector and it urgently needs to diversify the economy away from hydrocarbons. In addition, the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), of which Kazakhstan is a founding member, has so far failed to deliver on its promise of shared prosperity – partly due to Russia’s economy faltering in the face of the combination low oil prices and Western sanctions.
Domestic political stability is currently the key issue, because the 75 year old President Nazarbayev has yet to designate a successor, which would help pave the way for a smooth transition of power. The 2011-2012 terrorist attacks — the first in Kazakhstan’s history — and the December 2011 unrest at Zhanaozen, in the oil-rich Mangistau region, both highlighted the dangers of ignoring security concerns. Last year the Kazakh government therefore embarked upon a series of economic and business reforms in order to both attract and maintain new foreign investment as it strives to ensure political, social and economic stability.
This Breakfast Briefing will analyse:
- The impact of lower oil prices on the economy
- Succession politics and its domestic implications
- Internal stability and security in light of the challenge from Islamic State (IS)
- ‘New Great Game’ geopolitics and regional diplomacy
- The prospects for political and economic reforms and new investment opportunities
George Voloshin, who is a native of Kazakhstan, is the editor of Menas Associates’ monthly Caspian Focus publication and is Menas’ principal consultant on Central Asia and the FSU. He is the author of two books on Central Asia, with the second having been published in 2014 by Palgrave Macmillan, and of more than 100 articles in English, French, Russian and Italian. George is a frequent commentator on the FSU for France24 and other news networks.
Tanzania’s elections: Change will come
Date: Thursday 8 October 2015 | Location: London
Change has become the rallying call for opposition parties in Africa: change from incumbents’ corrupt ways, change from systems which benefit the elite but not the poor, or change from undemocratic governance. Since independence in 1961, Tanzania has never had a change in ruling party. But the Party of the Revolution (CCM) now faces a big challenge.
Both of the leading candidates in the 25 October election have campaigned on a message of change. One of them, John Magufuli, is the ruling CCM’s candidate, who is presenting himself as a break with the past. But the other, Edward Lowassa, defected from CCM just a few months ago, and he is now the candidate for the opposition UKAWA coalition. Tanzania has a long history of peace and stability, but the October elections could be the most competitive in the country’s history and there are fears of violence.
Any new government will come in at a time of tension and expectations. There are hopes of huge revenues from recent gas discoveries, questions over Zanzibar’s status, an Islamist militant presence, and calls from the population to end the corruptions scandals which have implicated CCM ministers.
This Breakfast Briefing will analyse:
- The challenges facing Tanzania and issues at play in the elections
- The two leading election candidates
- Predictions of the outcome of the polls
- How CCM may react to a defeat, or what its victory would mean
Stefano Ghirardi is Menas Associates’ Regional Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa. Stefano lived in Tanzania for over 12 years, both in Dar es Salaam and Dodoma. He has an MA in African Studies from SOAS where he focused on the politics of the country and studied Swahili. He wrote his dissertation on the role that religious identity plays in Tanzanian national politics. He has been helped in his research by Peter Bofin, who is the author of Menas’ East Africa Politics & Security report and who lives in Tanzania.
Saudi Arabia: Oil, Succession, and Regional Turmoil
Date: Wednesday 9 September 2015 | Location: London
The past year has been a tumultuous one for Saudi Arabia. The price of oil—by far the country’s leading export and main source of government revenue—has declined precipitously since last summer. King Salman assumed the throne in January amid great speculation and concern about his health . In April he replaced the Crown Prince with his nephew Muhammad bin Nayef, who is the first of his generation to assume the position. Saudi Arabia has also taken a leading role in a number of regional conflicts and has faced a minor insurgency at home. It has led the coalition against the Huthi rebels in Yemen, has supported President el-Sisi’s regime in Egypt, and has battled the Islamic State at home and abroad. Our speaker analyses the current state of affairs in Saudi Arabia and offers a prognosis about the stability and fortunes of the Arab world’s largest economy.
This breakfast briefing will look at:
- The impact of declining oil prices on the economy
- Succession politics and the potential for political upheaval
- Internal security and the ability of the regime to battle the Islamic State domestically
- The prospects for economic and political reform
- Saudi Arabia’s evolving role in Yemen, Syria, Egypt, and the GCC
The speaker, Nathan Hodson, is a PhD candidate and graduate fellow at Princeton University, where he specialises in Saudi political and economic affairs. He has been conducting research in the Kingdom since 2008. Proficient in Arabic and a former Fulbright Fellow, he holds an MA in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton and an MPA from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School.
Iran – A New Frontier for Business
Date: Tuesday 8 September 2015 | Hour: 17:30 – 19:15 | Location: London
Maximising opportunities and confronting the political, strategic and legal risks
On 14 July, an historic agreement was reached which will see curbs placed on Iran’s nuclear programme as well as inspections in return for phased sanctions relief.
This deal should allow Iran to start the process of re-integration with the international community as well as creating a springboard for fresh investment and triggering the unfreezing of more than $100bn in assets. The deal has the potential to transform not only Iran’s domestic economy but also the wider region, providing huge opportunities for businesses around the world.
Our expert panel, which will include a representative from the US Embassy, Menas Associates and US and UK sanctions experts, will be addressing the key commercial, political, strategic and legal matters that businesses should be addressing as they move forward.
We would be delighted if you could join us for an evening of discussion, drinks and canapés.
Please be aware that, contrary to the timing of our normal events, this briefing will take place in the evening.
- US policy following the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (‘JCPOA’)
- Restrictions on US business under the JCPOA
- Tackling obstacles to trade with Iran
Menas Associates / Dr. Bijan Khajehpour
- The political realities of business in Iran
- Key sectors and likely trends in the post-sanctions market for international businesses
- Political and economic risks
King & Wood Mallesons / Lewis Baach
- The timeline for EU / US sanctions relief under the JCPOA
- What businesses can legally do now
- What restrictions will remain in the medium / long term
- How to protect your investment from sanctions ‘snap-back’
The crisis in Yemen: Implications for regional security, and options for the future
Date: 23 July 2015 | Location: London
It had been hoped that Yemen could become an unlikely success story of the Arab Spring, as it appeared to be on track to complete an internationally-supported political transition. But the optimism that Yemenis could decide their future together, and through negotiation, has been dashed by a return to groups pressing their individual agendas by force of arms. No single one has been more successful than the Huthis, who captured Sana’a in September 2014 and extended their control over much of the country. That prompted a Saudi-led Arab military campaign against them, which will struggle to achieve its objective even as the conflict – and its corresponding economic and humanitarian crisis – worsens. The security and stability of Yemen are of prime importance to the GCC states, and to international trade passing through the Gulf of Aden and the Bab al Mandab. Al-Qa’ida in Yemen (AQAP) – part of which has transferred its loyalty to the Islamic State group (IS) – is the most dangerous of the Al-Qa’ida franchises, and has been using this conflict to portray itself as a defender of Sunni Islam against the Zaydi Shi’a Huthis. It has also maintained its capacity to mount terrorist attacks outside Yemen. As the world searches for a solution, this Breakfast Briefing will cover:
- Causes of the current crisis
- Who are the Huthis and what do they want?
- Why does former president Ali Abdullah Saleh remain influential?
- Who are the forces opposing the Huthis?
- The future of south Yemen after 25 years of unity
- Al-Qa’ida and the Islamic State group
- Implications for Yemen’s neighbours and the international community
- Options for the future
Dr Noel Brehony, chairman of Menas Associates, has been following events in Yemen since the 1970s and now edits our monthly Yemen Focus report. He is a former diplomat and former Director of Middle East Affairs for Rolls-Royce PLC. He was chairman of the British-Yemeni Society 2010-2015. His book Yemen Divided was published in 2011, and he is co-editing Rebuilding Yemen which is to be published by Gerlach Books in September 2015.
Ballots over Bullets? The potential risks and rewards of Côte d’Ivoire’s 2015 election.
Date: 23 June 2015 | Location: London
For decades, Côte d’Ivoire was known as the ‘Ivorian Miracle,’ one of the fastest growing economies in the world; Abidjan was the ‘Paris of West Africa.’ But since 2002, Côte d’Ivoire has been mired in civil war, political volatility, and cycles of violence.
Now, with just four months to go before Côte d’Ivoire’s pivotal October presidential elections, the country is on the cusp of an immense turnaround. The return of the African Development Bank to Abidjan in September 2014 is yet another sign that the former war zone may be poised to regain its position as one of the major economic hubs of sub-Saharan Africa.
Traditionally Côte d’Ivoire has been known as the world’s premier producer of cocoa, but offers major growth possibilities in oil, mining, coffee, and other highly exportable agricultural products.
This briefing will provide insights into the possible risks and rewards that may pivot on the critical 2015 vote – and how the political dynamics at play are likely to produce a bumpy road, albeit one that offers significant economic potential.
Brian Klaas is a Clarendon Scholar and researcher at the University of Oxford, where he focuses on African politics, elections, and political violence. He has advised the International Crisis Group and the Carter Center on both elections and political violence, and has recently written about Côte d’Ivoire’s volatile politics in Africa Today, Good Governance Africa, and African Arguments. During the course of his DPhil, Klaas conducted extensive fieldwork in Abidjan, meeting with several dozen of the top players in Côte d’Ivoire’s government, business, and diplomatic circles.
Iraq: The Islamic State, the Kurds, and the unity of the state
Date: 21 May 2015 | Location: London
For much of the past year Iraq has appeared on the brink of disintegration. Not only had swathes of its territory been subsumed by the Islamic State group (IS), but the forces mobilising to fight the extremists appeared to serve the interests of their own single religion, ethnicity, or locality rather than those of a collective ‘Iraq’. The worst days of the IS advance now appear to have been overcome, but the history of modern Iraq has consistently seen the ‘solution’ to one crisis providing the cause of the next. Our speaker assesses whether that history will repeat itself, or if Iraq can truly translate the progress of recent months into a more permanent peace and prosperous future.
This breakfast briefing will look at:
- The Islamic State group, the Popular Mobilisation forces, and the security environment
- Whether Iraq’s Sunni Arabs can be reconciled
- The new Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, and the challenge of ruling
- Relations between the centre and the regions
- The potential for an independent Kurdistan, and what this would mean for the region
- The economic crisis and its implications for stability
The speaker, Alison Pargeter, is a Senior Associate at Menas Associates and the author of its monthly Iraq & Kurdistan Focus publication. She is a Senior Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and has held academic positions at the University of Cambridge and Kings College, London.
Morocco: Implications of the post-Arab Spring reforms for investment
Date: 23 April 2015 | Location: London
Morocco has remained notably insulated from the revolutionary tumult and violence which afflicted some of the region’s states since 2011. But it was nevertheless affected by the Arab Spring, with the significant political and economic reforms which followed making the country an attractive opportunity for foreign investors.
Economic stability, a commitment to liberalisation, the revision of key investment laws, and the recent wide-scale privatisation of state-owned companies will all serve to create opportunities and reduce costs for investors. Morocco continues to encourage investment from the EU, its largest trading partner, through the 2008 Advanced Status trade agreement. The government has also supported free trade economic zones and industrial parks throughout the country.
The Arab Spring protests in 2011 brought a number of political reforms to the monarchy, and the election of the Islamist Justice and Development (PJD) party to government with Abdelilah Benkirane as Prime Minister. These adjustments have successfully reduced politically-motivated civil unrest. Even controversial liberalisation reforms have failed to cause significant instability.
While Morocco is an attractive investment environment, companies still need to be careful when choosing the best political and economic stakeholders with whom to engage. Despite the reforms, understanding long-established structures and social norms is also imperative. The regional ambitions of the Islamic State (IS) have also attracted global attention, and even though Morocco is likely to retain its characteristic stability the country does risk becoming a target.
The speaker will analyse:
- Political stability in the wake of the Arab Spring
- Security in the era of Islamic State
- New economic zones and infrastructural improvements
- Economic liberalisation
- Morocco’s “Portal to Africa” campaign
Toba Hellerstein is the Director of International Business Development for Menas Associates and is based in Washington DC. She has been a North Africa analyst for 10 years and has specialised in Moroccan political, security, and economic trends. Toba has lived and worked in the Middle East and France for 6 years and speaks French and Arabic. She received a Masters degree in Middle- East country risk analysis from Sciences Po in Paris, and studied as an undergraduate at City University of New York.
Zimbabwe: Will the political transition bring new business opportunities?
Date: 26 March 2015 | Location: London
The Zanu-PF congress in December 2014 brought the political climate in Zimbabwe to a head. Although sold as a change from the corrupt “Old Guard”, party members seemed more concerned about their own position than that of the people or the economy.
Prominent figures including the popular Vice-President Joice Mujuru and some of her key supporters were subsequently expelled from the party and now seem intent on fighting the next election as independents.
By contrast the star of the First Lady, Grace Mugabe, is in the ascendancy and she has expressed her desire to become the new Minister of Defence or have another heavyweight portfolio. Her next position will reflect the success of the current attempts to establish a Mugabe dynasty. These changes within Zanu-PF, which have been carried out without due process, are stifling both democratic rule and the few remaining positive views of Zimbabwe.
One of the many difficulties facing the country is the requirement to indigenise 51% of all major businesses. The indigenisation law has not only led to the collapse of mining, farming and the industrial sectors but also to pervasive corruption and has resulted in most major companies closing following its implementation.
The economy’s decline, particularly since 2000, led to the emigration of the majority of the country’s professional class. Their return is difficult to envisage until the country is once again financially stable, and the rule of law and democratic governance are restored.
In light of these issues the speaker will analyse:
- Prohibitive practices
- The state of the agricultural sector
- The infrastructure sector, water, power and rail
- The many opportunities for Western and specifically UK investors
Peter Berry is a Zimbabwean professional engineer whose international experience includes: 8 years in Libya as area manager for Brown & Root at Brega for the Great Manmade River Authority; 4 years working with the Sultanate of Oman armed forces; 13 years in Russia (including three years in Kharyaga; eight years on Sakhalin II; and 2 years with Fluor Daniel in Moscow). Peter also worked with Menas Associates on the 1995 Algerian New Deal Initiative project on the transfer of Government from a military dictatorship to a democracy.
Since Peter’s return to Zimbabwe in 2010 he has taken on a number of consultancies – the Acid mine Discharge at Hwange Colliery, the concept design for Essar Group’s steel iron ore slurry pipeline from Chivhu to Beira, and the design of a major pipeline for Mozambique’s IGEPE. He is currently consulting on two major coal bed methane projects, at Lupane and Chiredzi.
Peter has been assisted in data collection by John Robertson, a Harare-based economic consultant.