AEC 2013 - Interview with Stephen Karangizi, Director and CEO of the African Legal Support Facility

29/10/2013
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Stephen Karangizi’s passion and commitment in ensuring continental integration is unquestionable, having contributed to this cause as a lawyer within COMESA’s activities for 15 years prior to joining the AfDB-backed African Legal Support Facility. Interestingly, he has shared perspectives on how African countries should work differently to meet the Bank’s new Regional Integration Strategy. He says a regulatory environment is an important aspect for business environment. What is also needed for our continent’s regional integration is for African countries to use the ALSF to strengthen lawyers’ capacities in complex contracts negotiations.

It is now three and a half years since the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) was created, with increased participation and recognition by the Bank’s regional and non-regional countries. In light of the ongoing African Economic Conference, what work does the ALSF carry out that has a bearing on regional integration?

The ALSF has been supporting several regional projects particularly in the infrastructure sector. Supporting the Bank’s Regional Member Countries in their negotiations of the regional projects would mean that the projects will have greater impact. Some of the projects include ports, energy, transport and water projects. These projects are important because they provide the linkages for the success of regional integration. Secondly, the ALSF has also been supporting the enhancement of capacity for many Regional Member Countries in the negotiation and management of PPPs, which are more predominant in the infrastructure sector. Some of the PPPs especially in the energy sector are intended to establish projects that can provide energy into both national and regional grids which is critical for regional integration. Thirdly, the ALSF is supporting complex contract negotiations of natural resources even in cases where they may have a transboundary effect.

What in your view do African countries need to do differently with the ALSF to meet the Bank’s new Regional Integration Strategy?

The most important thing is for African countries to consolidate their relationship with the Facility as a tool established by the African Development Bank to enhance their capacity to maximize their benefits from the resources they are exploiting and complete appropriate and effective deals with the investors. The greater use of the Facility ensures that African countries will avoid some of the pitfalls of the past. The facility is also developing best practices for contract negotiations in the different sectors. This information will provide important guidelines for African countries as they negotiate major projects that have an impact on regional integration.