Towards enhancing the legal capacity of African government officials

30/09/2016
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“The challenges many African governments face in negotiations are made worse by the interdependent nature of government systems which requires targeted skills in specified sectors complemented by better coordination when it comes to negotiating transactions for governments. Also, some governments are in a difficult position because they are stuck with poorly negotiated contracts. How should governments deal with agreements that have no spill over effect of investment? A negotiating strategy which provides a framework within which governments can look for common elements and models that can be used to their advantage is important.” stated Falou Samb, Special Advisor to the President Senegal on Trade and Investments in Senegal.

“To tackle the legal skills gap for specialised sectors on the African continent our approach has been to develop national and regional capacity building interventions targeting government officials to enhance their skills with the view that they hold key strategic roles within their respective governments and thus are in a position to make a difference,” said the ALSF Director, Stephen Karangizi.

The just concluded five-day workshop on Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) which run from 26 to 30 September 2016 in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire showcases our approach. Hosted in partnership with the African Institute for International Law (AIIL) specifically for representatives from Francophone Africa the workshop was attended by government trade officials from Algeria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Mali, Madagascar, Mauritius, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia.

Maître Seydou Doumbia, a Lawyer from Mali said that improved technical expertise has the potential to contribute to strengthened institutions in many African countries. We need to intensify our efforts to skill our experts and set standards that will reinvigorate the continent.

“I have a better appreciation of the need to analyse the agreements that we enter into” said Soud Belaazi, Deputy Clerk in the Tunisian Parliament. “Continuous learning is good for us especially in “new” specialised fields like the training we have gone through especially the challenges with arbitration,” she added.

“I am happy with the group of participants who were vocal about the challenges they face which allowed lively discussions around practical issues. This is our second training and from the debates I can confidently say that the participants have a full appreciation of processes involved in the negotiation, formulation and interpretation of bilateral investment treaties among government officials.” said Ambassador Mohammed Sani, the Director of the African Institute of International Law.

Convened within the framework of the ALSF’s mission to enhance the legal expertise on the continent the first training targeting Anglophone Africa was successfully conducted in Arusha, Tanzania in June 2016. Attended by 33 lawyers from 22 African countries overall goal of this intervention is to provide technical legal assistance to African countries to strengthen their legal expertise and negotiating capacity in matters relating to investment agreements thus contributing to strengthening legal capacity building processes in African countries

We are pleased about our partnership with AIIL and from the deliberations it is evident that we need to intensify our support to African governments, said Stephen Karangizi the ALSF Director. We are committed to supporting African governments as we explore more innovative ways through which we can deliver interventions that can create greater impact.