ALSF-World Bank: Partnership for Capacity Building and Advisory Services in Africa

21/01/2011
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The African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) undertook a mission to Washington DC and New York, from January 10 to 14, 2011, and held discussions with the World Bank, IFC and the Revenue Watch Institute officials and experts. The discussions were held within the framework of the ALSF’s strong commitment and firm determination to support African countries in building capacity and advisory services.

The main objective of the meetings was to prepare appropriate joint legal papers that provide for efficient and effective legal protection and support to African countries. The mission also shared experiences with other MDBs and put in place collaborative actions to address issues of common interest.

The delegation comprising ALSF Interim Director, Mamoudou Deme and its consultant, Carmen Da Costa, used the occasion to hold talks with key department heads of the World Bank and IFC, including Vice-presidents, on issues related to ALSF’s missions, and to discuss and explore ways of cooperation between donors.

Following five days of extensive consultations, major conclusions and recommendations were made. The ALSF’s assistance to African countries is complementary to the activities and operations of other MDBs and donors such as the World Bank and the IFC. With regards to  capacity building actions and in line with the effectiveness principles, the need for coordination and information between donors is fundamental. The meeting paved the way for a strong communication channel, as well as opportunities to finalize future partnership agreements.

The ALSF was created by members of the African Development Bank Group on 15 December 2008 as an independent institution to assist African countries in dealing with complex legal frameworks. To date, the ALSF has 45 members.

Collaboration among MDBs for effective legal actions in favor of African countries is imperative, says ALSF Interim Director, Mamoudou Deme. In the past decades, countries across the African continent have been victims of Vulture Funds. The Vulture Fund, FG Hemisphere, is currently pursuing litigation in Washington, DC against the Democratic Republic of Congo, “a country plagued by civil war”, demanding fines of up to $80,000 a week. Donegal International also claimed $55 million from Zambia for a debt it purchased for $3 million. “Such crippling debt burdens have prevented these countries from providing basic human rights such as health care, education, and even clean water,” Mr. Deme explained. He also stressed that there was need for strong and efficient measures to mitigate Vulture Funds effects on countries.

Since its inception, the Facility has embarked on the training of lawyers of African countries, as well as assisting African countries in negotiating complex commercial transactions. The various legal actions will certainly contribute to strengthening legal expertise and negotiating capacity in African countries.

The mission met with key actors of the two institutions, including the World Bank’s Vice-President and General Counsel, A. Leroy.