Morocco, for several years, has allowed many international consulting firms to set up in the Maghreb with a view to developing their presence throughout the African continent. Africa, as a whole, now hosts many consulting firms.
The importance of Africa for professions in the consulting and strategy sector
As early as 2011, international business law firms, specializing in advice, embarked on the opening of offices in the Maghreb and especially in Morocco. The establishment in North Africa was intended to not only allow working on local issues but also to provide advice to the entire African continent. This is, for example, the case of the British firm Bird & Bird, which operates in Cameroon, Congo and Côte d’Ivoire from its Moroccan agency. He has also established partnerships with Moroccan and Senegalese academic institutions.
A heritage from the colonial era, French organizations had already established themselves in Africa several years earlier. These structures such as August & Debouzy have favored an establishment in several African countries.
What is generating such enthusiasm for Africa? A high growth rate associated with the needs of African countries in terms of infrastructure. For the past ten years or so, the presence of international firms has intensified.
Morocco, a pioneer country that hosted the first establishment of law firms, has nevertheless made it possible to change the regulatory and institutional environment in Africa.
The goal of these new players? Achieve totally controlled expansion. These audit firms have been widely followed by the organization or strategy consultants. Whether it’s Roland Berger or the Boston Consulting Group, the “consulting giants” are irreparably looking to Africa.
Since the 2000s, the consulting professions have developed considerably in Africa. The origin of this boom? The privatization of many public enterprises that preferred to benefit from professional advice to implement their own growth strategy. One of the most active players is the McKinsey firm, which is not only in Morocco but also in South Africa.
Some firms have opted for another path: setting up advisory platforms to Africa. This is for example the American firm Shearman & Sterling which from France provides funding for projects focused on Africa.
African staff in large firms
All of the international strategy consulting firms integrate the best local lawyers or advisers into their structures.
Among the 50 business lawyers who marked 2016, three Africans are in the top ten (Hicham Naciri, Pascal Agboyibor and Kamal Nasrollah). They are all attached to large international firms. This proves that the latter are the only ones in a position to provide advice when it comes to large-scale African operations.
Nevertheless, the opening of local practices is growing strongly. These evolve mainly on national files. However, some of them, such as the Guinean firm Sylla & Partners, are also involved in more sensitive cases.
Gradually, African firms are starting to assert themselves. Nevertheless, it will take time for them to equal international firms.