Tracy Cohen

Tracy Cohen


Dr. Tracy Cohen is Director of Business Development at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr. She also specialises in telecommunications and media law and policy and has wide-ranging experience in management, regulation, organisational development and governance in the telecommunications and energy sectors. Tracy has worked as both an independent advisor as well as in-house counsel. She has advised on various aspects of regulation, licensing and compliance in the sector as well as regulatory strategy, stakeholder management and engagement. She serves on a number of advisory boards in the ICT sector and academia.

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Tracy joined Cliffe Dekker as a Director in our Dispute Resolution practice in March 2016, specialising in telecommunications and media law. In April 2018, Tracy became Director of Business Development. She was previously the Chief Corporate Services Officer at Neotel (Pty) Ltd (now known as Liquid Telecom) and prior to that she served a four-year term as a Councillor at the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA), where her portfolio included specific projects on market access and competition. Previous positions include teaching posts at Wits University in Johannesburg and research posts at Columbia University in New York City; the University of Toronto and the London School of Economics. She has worked as a regulatory consultant for domestic and international organizations including the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO).

She started her career in media law at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) where her areas of research included freedom of speech, Internet regulation, defamation law and media concentration and ownership. Tracy also served two consecutive terms as non-executive chairperson of the National Nuclear Regulator between 2009 and 2016.

She holds a Doctorate in law from the University of Toronto.

  • Neotel - managed Legal and Regulatory Affairs; Corporate Social Investment, Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment compliance and Corporate Communications. Focus on ensuring compliance with sectoral laws, policies and regulations, stakeholder relationships and strategic regulatory projects at Neotel.
  • Councillor, Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) - appointed as per legislation for a 4-year term. Portfolio included Markets and Competition, which included tariffs, competition, licensing, interconnection, facilities leasing, essential facilities, mobile pricing and developing the competition framework required by the Electronic Communications Act. She was also involved with broadcasting licensing projects, including secondary market radio licences and community radio.
  • SA Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (SATRA) - SATRA was merged with the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) in 2000 to form ICASA. Responsible for research, policy analysis, legal opinions and advisory work regarding the legal and regulatory framework for telecommunications, the framework for licensing of the 3rd mobile operator and universal service subsidies.
  • Media Project, Centre for Applied Legal Studies, (CALS), University of the Witwatersrand - Areas of research included constitutional law, specifically freedom of speech; Internet regulation; broadcasting; telecommunications and universal access; media ownership; media and constitutional law.


  • 'The Ambiguities of Participation in the Global Governance of Electronic Networks: Implications for South Africa and Lessons for Developing Countries' in Governing Global Electronic Networks: International Perspectives on Power and Policy, W. Drake and E. Wilson (eds.), MIT Press (With Alison Gillwald), 2008.
  • 'Rethinking (Reluctant) Capture: The Development of South African Telecommunications 1992-2002 and the Impact of Regulation', Journal of African Law, Volume 47:1, 2003.
  • 'Domestic Policy and South Africa's Commitments under the WTO's Basic Telecommunications Agreement: Explaining the Apparent Inertia' in Journal of International Economic Law (2001) 613-643.
  • 'Surveillance law and the right to privacy in South Africa’ in The South African Journal of Information and Communication Policy Vol. 1, No. 1, 2000.
  • 'Media Law in South Africa' in Speaking Freely: Expression and the Law in the Commonwealth, Toronto: Irwin Publishers, 2000. (With Lene Johannesen and Solange Rosa).
  • 'Cyber-censorship: No Tickets for Speeding on the Information Superhighway' 1998 South African Law Journal (4) 710.
  • 'Freedom of Expression' in Policing and Human Rights, S. Gutto (ed.), Johannesburg: Jutas, 1997. (With Lene Johannesen).
  • 'Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Local Government' in A Practical Guide to Human Rights in Local Government S. Gutto (ed.) Butterworths: Johannesburg, 1996. (With Lene Johannesen).


  • SJD (Doctorate in Law), University of Toronto.
  • BA, LLB (Cum Laude), LLM, University of Witwatersrand


  • Board Member, Research ICT Africa, 2016 – Present.
  • Chairperson, Cape Digital Foundation, 2016 – Present.
  • Advisory Board Member, Centre for the Analysis of Risk and Regulation, London School of Economics, 2014 - Present.
  • Chairperson of the Board, National Nuclear Regulator, South Africa, 2009-2016.
  • Board member, Next Generation Leadership Board, India School of Business, Hyderabad: 2010-2012.
  • Advisory committee member, Legislation administered by the Department of Communications: SA Law Reform Commission: Project 25 (Statutory Law Review), 2008.