The Law in the Service of Development - Interview with AfDB General Counsel, Kalidou Gadio

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The AfDB General Counsel, Kalidou Gadio, attended a conference on Law and Development organized by Harvard University from 16 to 18 April 2010, where he presented a paper on "The Role of Law in Development for the African continent, from the Perspective of a Development Agency." Mr. Gadio contextualizes the conference and further underlines the importance of law in development in this interview (Read).

Question: What was the purpose of the conference and why did AfDB attend?

Answer:  The purpose of the conference, organized by the Harvard African Law and Development Association of Harvard University Law Faculty, was to bring together academics, students and legal practitioners such as senior staff of international institutions to discuss the relationship between law and development specifically in Africa. So I was invited to participate as the Legal Counsel of an international development institution.

Question: The argument that you advanced in your statement emphasizes the law’s central role in the development process. Could you shed more light on this?

Answer: The paper I gave revolved around three points. First, I sought to highlight the critical links between law and development, right from Adam Smith’s thoughts to the more recent ideas of contemporary economist, Hernando de Soto.

Furthermore, the second point centered on the analysis of Hernando de Soto’s dematerialization of ownership theory, its registration and their impact on capital development. Hernando de Soto believes that these three elements are essential to effective economic development. He said Third World countries were in possession of enormous wealth, representing forty times all official development assistance received worldwide since 1945. But these riches are dead, since they are not used to mobilize capital and credit. To remedy this situation, Hernando de Soto proposes a massive registration of fixed and unfixed assets by moral and physical persons under private law in the Third World. The OHADA initiative is along these lines and the African Development Bank provides financial support to efforts to establish such a system of property registration.

My third point was a presentation of the African Legal Support Facility. The Facility has been established to help African countries to defend themselves against lawsuits filed in jurisdictions with which they are unfamiliar. The two other objectives are to support trade negotiations that member states can enter into and which are related to complex commercial transactions in the areas of infrastructure and mining. This is then followed by the training of lawyers in negotiation techniques.

Question: How were the AfDB’s views perceived?

Answer: The audience was mostly composed of African students and showed a genuine interest in the institution’s strategies and actions for promoting the right to development.

Question: Do you intend to further expatiate on these ideas to deal with the impact of law in social transformation, particularly in Africa, and possibly in other less specialized areas?

Answer: The law can and should be at the service of development. The AfDB promotes this goal for the benefit of the greatest number. By combining the best academic experts and practitioners, we publish the results of our research and our operational results to a wide audience. Thus, we are all aware that our institution is promoting Africa’s effective development. This has been the case here, with students from the Faculty of Law at Harvard University. The ideas will further be replicated at other international conferences, whose results are widely reported by media worldwide.