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A local legal partner for industry

Interview - August 5, 2014
Centurion’s team of U.S.-trained lawyers has negotiated more oil and gas contracts than any other legal firm in Africa, and provides advisory services in everything from government procurement and contracts to construction law, and corporate and commercial law, among others. Managing Partner NJ Ayuk speaks about Centurion’s role in Equatorial Guinea
EQUATORIAL GUINEA
NJ AYUK | MANAGING PARTNER OF CENTURION
The largest law firm in Central Africa with affiliated offices in Washington D.C., Toronto, London, Accra and Douala, Centurion specializes in the provision of outsourced general counsel representation to the region’s energy industry and has been awarded Law Firm of the Year for the last two years.

Managing Partner NJ Ayuk is a U.S.-educated lawyer who has witnessed the impressive changes that have taken place over the past two decades in Equatorial Guinea and is keen to encourage partnerships with foreign firms who can help the country continue along its path of development through technology and know-how transfer.

What are the advantages of doing business in Equatorial Guinea?

Infrastructure is the key. You can really come in and do business. Infrastructural development has created jobs and business opportunities. Also, you can repatriate all your profits. You have stability. Safety exists here. There is a big market. Lots of big companies are doing business here, even U.S. contractors and law firms based here. That is a testament of reform change.

It is easier than ever for businesses to come here. That was a great effort by government. Equatorial Guinea understands that is has to create a legal framework for investors to feel safe to invest their money. Moreover, a lot of new reforms are on their way in. Investment laws and tax laws are going to change. The will of the people and the president is to ensure investment.

“I see a lot of structural change to ensure a safe business environment. This is historic”

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“Centurion has the largest oil and gas practice in Africa, and is one of the largest law firms in Africa”
Tax law changes are going to provide more benefits for investors. New constitutional changes give more guarantees to our citizenry as well. I see a lot of structural change to ensure a safe business environment. This is historic. You see a lot of legal and regulation changes that inspire more confidence.

What is the country doing to change its image abroad?


We have to continue improving what we built. Our image is only half true; but this is a different country than 20 years ago. Our democracy is stable. We have many lawyers trained by partnerships with American law firms. There was a complete reform in law, to encourage peace, stability, and growth. Equatorial Guinea seats the largest law firm in Central and West Africa.

Equatorial Guinea complies with international transparency laws. Even though you don’t see this news in the media, they are important. The government has to continue communicating.

The president has been the driving force behind our becoming a world-class nation. He is promoting education, and training teachers in a partnership with John Hopkins University, for example.

As a lawyer, we have seen great change. The rule of law is put right up. You don’t see human rights abuses, you don’t see street harassment by policemen, and that is very important.

The government has created a safe and enabling environment. It has created incentives for business, and made it flexible. It is now easier for small companies to come here and set up, and that alone promotes development and improve the lives of people.

Please tell us a little about Centurion.

Centurion is a law firm that advises the private and public sector in the oil and gas industry, infrastructure sector, and also the banking sector. One of our key objectives is to encourage growth in Equatorial Guinea and Africa.

Centurion has the largest oil and gas practice in Africa, and is one of the largest law firms in Africa. We started with two lawyers, and now we are 35. We continue growing. We encourage Equatoguinean lawyers from the Diaspora to return. We need stellar law firms in Africa to make it easier for businesses from the U.S. to come here. Already we have many American clients. They could hire any American law firm, but they choose us. We work with them in financing, and also get government permits.

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