Resource nationalism on the rise in sub-Saharan Africa – by Nadine James ( – June 15, 2018)

The seemingly increasing trend towards nationalist thinking, combined with and likely driven by growing economic inequality, has resulted in several changes in mining and tax legislation in sub-Saharan Africa countries.

Herbert Smith Freehills Africa Group co-chair and partner Peter Leon says the recent and significant changes to mining regulations in various African States have caused concern that a “regional trend of resource nationalism may be emerging”.

White & Case partner Rebecca Campbell notes that her firm’s yearly mining survey of 2018 found that about 45.1% of respondents believe that the heightened risk of resource nationalism across Africa makes it difficult to justify investment.

However, with about 42% saying that the risk was manageable and about 13% believing the potential returns outweighed the risks, investor sentiment towards African mining jurisdictions has not completely soured.

Despite the apparent appetite for investment, about 64.5% of survey respondents believe that political risk or “the possibility of government interference” is the chief obstacle. This assertion implies a growing sense of caution around trends in African mining legislation, though it has yet to devolve into outright pessimism.

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