Law is a tool to foster change. Today, this change needs to be based on and prompt socio-economic empowerment and poverty reduction, sustainable development, equality and protection of the environment…”- Dr. Magalie Masamba


Dr. Magalie Masamba, a Congolese (DRC) lawyer, policy advisor and legal researcher working in the fields of international development and international economic law is our Millennial feature. She has worked with African governments, multilateral organizations, tertiary institutions, NGOs and the private sector. Her advisory work has spanned private sector development; international trade and investment law; infrastructure development; sovereign debt management and debt restructuring; and post-pandemic recovery strategy and policy formulation.

Dr. Masamba is currently a Post-doctoral research Fellow at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria (South Africa) and the Global Development Policy Center, Boston University (USA) and her research focuses on sovereign debt and its impacts on development

Dr. Masamba has supported African governments in her role as a legal specialist (consultant) in the World Bank’s PPP Support Program. Before this role, she was one of the first Oxford Policy Fellows, and as part of the Fellowship, was an embedded Legal Advisor in the Zanzibar Ministry of Finance and Planning for two years and was admitted as an Advocate of the Zanzibar High Court. Dr. Masamba  continues to be part of the regional debates on different areas of international economic law by participating in expert group meetings of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and her role as a Senior Fellow of the African Sovereign Debt Justice Network and guest lecturer at different universities regionally and globally. Magalie was recently appointed as a non-executive board member of the Cubango-Okavango River Basin (CORB) Fund. The fund functions as a fully independent company to enhance livelihoods, improve ecosystem resilience and provide equitable benefits to stakeholders in the river basin shared by the states of Angola, Botswana and Namibia. She was also recently nominated for the Strategic African Women in Leadership (SAWIL) Top 30 Trailblazers Awards 2021.

Dr. Masamba holds a Doctor of Law degree from the University of Pretoria. Her Doctor of Law degree focused on sovereign debt restructuring, human rights, and development in Africa. She also holds a Master of Law degree in International Trade and Investment Law from the University of Pretoria (with an exchange semester at the University of Amsterdam), and a Bachelor of Law degree from Walter Sisulu University in South Africa.

1. What makes legal practice exciting for Magalie?

What excites her most about legal practice is how uniquely diverse the profession is. She has taken a very non-traditional path in her legal career. Magalie is a lawyer who works in international development, and being able to be involved in legal advisory work and policy formulation makes her current experience very interesting.

In her career so far, she has had the opportunity to do very stimulating work including working directly on the preparation of infrastructure projects, legislative drafting, helping African governments determine the policy direction on matters of trade and investment and conducting capacity development. This amazing mix of fantastic work has made the path she has taken always interesting. Another aspect that has made it exciting for her has been working with a wide range of stakeholders – multilateral banks, international organizations, NGOs, tertiary institutions, and the private sector.

2. What is her philosophy of impacting the nation through the practice of the law?

“Law is a tool to foster change. Today, this change needs to be based on and prompt socio-economic empowerment and poverty reduction, sustainable development, equality and protection of the environment. This is especially so as the world is formulating post-pandemic recovery strategies. I have first-hand witnessed how the law can be a powerful tool to promote these. and have also seen how devastating the impact of the failure to use this powerful tool can be”, Magalie notes.

3. What is the next big thing Magalie is working on?

For Magalie, becoming one of the leading and most active African and global voices in the global discourse on sovereign debt-related issues and poverty reduction is a major aim. She hopes to become a global author and speaker on these topics. She is passionate about being at the table in a field that does not have as many African voices, and yet is a subject that is so important for the development of the continent.

Dr. Magalie Masamba

Dr. Magalie Masamba: Africa’s Legal Millennial

4. What does Magalie consider the millennials greatest strength?

She thinks millennials have the amazing ability to adapt to a very fast-paced and fast-changing world. As such, she believes since millennials have this amazing ability to adapt to change, they are going to be both one of the most resilient generations, and also one that will be at the forefront of change. In this respect, She thinks technology is going to play a very important role in how millennials impact and contribute to change.

5. Who, in the profession does Magalie look up to, and what is she currently reading?

There are so many practitioners she admires in the profession. Because she is in the broader field of international development, she can’t help but mention her admiration for Dr. Sandie Okoro, who is Senior Vice-President and General Counsel at the World Bank Group; Vice President for Compliance at the World Bank; and Chair of the World Bank Group Task Force on Racism. Dr. Sandie Okoro is the first black woman to hold this role and is not just an inspiration but also a role model. Beyond Dr. Sandie Okoro’s  busy role, Magalie believes she is passionate about inspiring and sharing her story, which is one of smashing glass ceilings. For Magalie Dr. Sandie Okoro’s journey is very unique because she is a lawyer who has proven how versatile a legal career can be.

She is currently reading ‘Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa’ by the Zambian-born economist Dambisa Moyo.

The PALM considers Magalie Masamba a legal millennial who has shown exceptional radiance in the field of legal practice.

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