Interview with Shehzada Walli Co-Managing Partner of EXOR Attorneys

TanzaniaInvest interviewed Shehzada Walli, Co-Managing Partner of EXOR Attorneys. He shares interesting insight on the country’s legal framework and on the investment opportunities available.

TanzaniaInvest: How smooth is the process to invest in Tanzania?

Shehzada Walli: From the moment an investor steps into Tanzania, from setting up company to work permits, there are huge line of government agencies that you are supposed to go through.

Then there is Tanzanian Investment Centre (TIC). There is also the Export Process Zone Agency (EPZA) whom many foreigners do not know and that is actually becoming the preferred investment agent in Tanzania.

The bureaucracy is complex. It will take you at least 7-14 days to setup your company unless you are equipped.{xtypo_quote_right}The bureaucracy is complex. It will take you at least 7-14 days to setup your company unless you are equipped.{/xtypo_quote_right}

So it is not that the legal framework is not intact, it is with the bureaucratic process like everywhere.

TI: Are Tanzanian law firms able to cater for investors and overcome the administrative burdens?

SW: There are different types of Law Firms in Tanzania but very few are experienced enough to cater to investors. The rest are busy with litigations, etc.

There are today no more than 10 law firms in Tanzania who have experience in investments. They are enhanced with the knowledge and the know-how with the investors coming in.

There is an influence from International Law Firms coming to Tanzania and forming partnerships. They bring in the expertise.

So you need to have the right choice of lawyers.

TI: How do you assess if a law firm is capable of handling investment in Tanzania?

SW: You will notice the setup of the Law Firms, how established it is or not.

The Lawyers background is a good indicator as well. You want a Lawyer who is experienced in Corporate Law and not just Litigation work.

It is important to have lawyers knowledgeable of corporate law and corporate matters.

TI : EXOR Attorneys is active in several areas including banking, mining, oil and gas, real estate and construction. Talking of banking, with almost 50 banks operating in the country, do you think there is room for further growth in this sector in Tanzania?

SW : I feel the banking sector is saturated but there is still more room for different products like Islamic banking and microfinance{xtypo_quote_left} there is still more room for different products like Islamic banking and microfinance{/xtypo_quote_left}

We are also involved in Islamic banking: we do reviews and are currently working with investors to bring in Islamic banking to Tanzania.

We have also assisted the setting the up of microfinance bank in Tanzania. Microfinance is a significant demand in Tanzania and is attracting more people.

TI: Tanzania is on the spotlight because of the discovery of huge reserves of natural gas as well as oil. How do you think the gas industry will impact the socioeconomic structure of Tanzania?

SW : The problem right now is planning. Our planning is poor, which makes the execution difficult. We have advertised and invited everyone.

Unfortunately there is no proper legal framework to cater for the oil and gas companies involved.

There is no information flow to the locals in those areas where oil and gas are extracted. There are a lot of promises. There needs to be a good plan put into place and the locals need to be educated.

Still, there will be development, there will be growth. I see the development going faster. There are a lot of opportunities in Tanzania in terms of gas.

TI: Time ago the Government of Tanzania announced it was considering reviewing the royalty regime for the mining sector, with the inclusion of agreements already in place. How do you look at that?

SW : I do not have many comments on that. From the way I see and experience, Tanzania is a growing economy.

Every President comes in with his own vision and growth path. Instability is not consistent in Tanzania.

TI: In relation to real estate, in Tanzania and particularly in Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital, construction sites are all over. Is this sustainable or could it be a bubble that could burst?

SW : I think it is sustainable. It will lead to economic growth. Real estate is one of my specialties and I have been working with developers.

As time goes, each of them wants to cater for the middle class. So there is a growing middle class.

I do not see it as a bursting bubble. I see it leading to economic growth.

TI : Where else do you see interesting investment opportunity in Tanzania and how would you describe Tanzania and what is going on here right now?

SW : The clear areas of investment in Tanzania are in agriculture, as there is a lot of land in Tanzania that is not being used{xtypo_quote_right}clear areas of investment in Tanzania are in agriculture, as there is a lot of land not being used{/xtypo_quote_right}

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The government is actually offering this land for investment but the investment is slow, probably because agriculture is slower to yielding profits than oil and gas.

Second, would be “the usuals”; Oil, Gas, Mining, Real Estate and Tourism.

Providing housing for the emerging middle-class would be a smart investment.

Tanzania is a friendly and naïve country, I would say. Tanzanians love people.

We go out of our way to make sure someone has been assisted.

If anyone wants to invest in a friendly environment with good people and good opportunities, I think Tanzania is probably the only country in the world people can look to.

TI : What makes EXOR Attorneys a good partner for investors looking at Tanzania?

SW : When we started, our main vision was to serve clients with honesty and integrity. Our main focus was legal and business ethics. We were 4 partner and now we are 7.

We were trained at prestigious Law Firms in Tanzania, and noticed that Tanzania does not have Relationship Lawyers, that cater for clients side by side providing legal services but also providing opportunities in Tanzania or in any country.

So a Relationship Attorney plays a part in being the attorney and a member of the investment, trying to make the investment grow bigger.

Since our start, our clients have always referred us to others. We realized it is because the service we give to our clients was more than they asked for.

So we were there and that’s where our motto comes from “We are always there”. That’s what our clients love about us. We put our services before our fees.

We are taking the legal business to a different level. Clients love the way we work and today have a large portfolio of Tanzanian and International clients.