ALSF-PALU seminar on commercial transactions-Interviews

25/01/2012
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Charles Boamah, Finance Vice-President, African Development Bank

Question: As a member of the governing council of the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF), can you highlight some of the major achievements of the Facility since its inception?

Answer: Amongst other accomplishments, I would like to underscore that the management Board of ALSF has approved six projects to support African countries in the areas of vulture fund litigation; negotiations of a public/private projects agreement for a port concession; negotiations of concession agreements for five agriculture projects; capacity building on sovereign assets recovery; capacity building on managing and negotiating PPPs in the mining and energy sectors; and capacity building for African lawyers, on a sub-regional basis, on negotiation of complex commercial transactions and dealing with vulture funds. These were accomplished by ALSF in less than two years since it became operational.  The list above is only a beginning.  There is clearly continued and increasing demand from African countries for ALSF services - evidence of the great wisdom on the part of those, including Mr. Kalidou Gadio, General Counsel of the African Development Bank, who worked tirelessly to create the ALSF. I wish all a very successful seminar.


Maître Chawki Tabib, avocat à la Cour et bâtonnier de Tunis

«Les avocats ont un rôle prépondérant dans le processus de développement et de libération de leur pays »

Nous sommes profondément africains.  Il n’est point besoin de rappeler que le nom Afrique trouve son origine en Tunisie : « Afrikiya ». Le Conseil national des avocats de Tunisie a contribué à la mise en place de l’Union panafricaine des avocats (PALU). Notre pays est membre fondateur de cette organisation, et je pense que ce séminaire est important pour l’avenir de notre continent et celui de notre pays.  Nous nous devons d’être conscients de cette complémentarité entre les avocats des pays d’Afrique au sud du Sahara et nous. Je me réjouis de cette double complémentarité pour l’efficacité de notre corporation.  La question des fonds vautours est généralement confiée à des avocats internationaux. Il est important que nous accordions une importance nationale à cette question.

Je voudrais aussi souligner le rôle important des avocats dans le processus de développement et de démocratisation des pays. Comme vous le savez, les avocats africains ont largement participé au processus de libération et d’indépendance de leurs pays, ainsi qu’à l’édification de leurs Etats.  Je citerai l’ancien président sud-africain, Nelson Mandela, Habib Bourguiba qui étaient des avocats.  Nous devons continuer à nous inscrire dans la logique de nos prédécesseurs. N’oublions pas le rôle des avocats dans le Printemps arabe. Nous voudrions saluer ici les responsables de la BAD, ceux de la Facilité africaine de soutien juridique (ALSF) et du PALU pour cette initiative régionale.  Grâce à cette coopération avec la BAD et l’ALSF, je pense que notre corporation pourra jouer plus efficacement son rôle.


Salah Adden Tabagh, Attorney and Counsellor at Law, Tripoli, Libya

"We want to contribute to building a new and prosperous Libya”

Question: What has motivated you to travel all the way from Libya to attend this seminar in Tunis? What are your expectations after hearing the various introductory remarks?

Answer: This three-day long regional seminar on complex international commercial transactions, in Tunis, Tunisia is most welcome. We are currently trying to build a new Libya, and lawyers have a major role to play in our situation. The issues to be discussed like vulture funds, as well as the training session aimed at writing complex international commercial contracts are very important for the new Libya today. I am here to improve my skills and I am very glad. My thanks go to the African Legal Services Facility and the Pan African Law Association for providing this opportunity. My country needs to get stolen money back home. As a lawyer, I would like to sustainably contribute to building a new Libya. We are currently expecting our stolen funds to help us, both in the public and private sectors. This will be possible only if law practitioners are endowed with the necessary skills to face reality.  We are trying to build a corruption-free nation.  There is much to expect from this seminar. 


Interview with Dr. Walid Shaker Hegazy, managing partner, Hegazy & Associates

“Just imagine how many of us here have now had a second thought about the African Development Bank’s operations”

Question : What is you general impression or views about this seminar?

Answer: This is the first time I attend an event organized by the African Legal Services Facility (ALSF) and the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU). I am very impressed by the excellent organization of this seminar and the high quality of the speakers and their interventions. I am also pleased to see very diverse speakers and colleagues who represent a larger number of African nations.

Question: How did you know about these two organizations?

Answer: As a lawyer, I like writing. I do enjoy reading. I also like to do research on the African Development Bank's web site www.afdb.org  and the ALSF web site www.alfsf.org, on which I spend hours reading. I got to know about the PALU while reading the African Union Charts.  I am always surfing.  

Question: What kind of information are you most interested in when you visit these sites?

Answer: To be a successful lawyer, you need to develop your knowledge and your reputation in order to represent your clients well, and to inform them too. As my company has developed its business continent-wide, to build reputation and market it, you need basic information on countries. And you can only find them on the website of major institutions like the African Development Bank. 

Now with the new emerging issue of vulture funds, we need to work closely with ALSF and PALU to update our knowledge. When you visit the websites, you get whatever you need as background Information on projects throughout the African continent. This helps my company to build knowledge and reputation to help potential clients. You know, the foundation of law is knowledge and law is a business. We read the news and look for opportunities when we visit the website of the African Development Bank, that of the ALSF and PALU, and I encourage my colleagues to do the same.

Question: To what extent do you find the seminar's presentations informative? What have you learnt at the end of the day?

Answer: I found all the presentations interesting and informative, especially the ones on infrastructure projects financing and the presentation on the African Development Bank. The presentation provided an excellent overview of the main activities of the bank and the benefits it offers to its members. Just imagine how many of us around the table here now have had a second thought about the African Development Bank’s operations. I am glad to know that my country, Egypt, is one of the founding members of the African Development Bank Group and also one of the main beneficiaries. As one of the biggest shareholders, I am also pleased to learn that my country has so far received around 27 percent of the total loans offered by the Bank. I believe the Bank will continue to play its role in rebuilding African countries that have recently witnessed major political changes such as Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

Question: As the seminar draws to its end, what would you have loved to see or hear? Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: Like most participants, I would like to have electronic documentation on the various presentations. The basis of a lawyer's work is documentation, not mere explanations. Let's hope we find some available on the Bank's website as the Legal division manager for private sector, Souley Amadou, said yesterday during his presentation. I think the number of participants needs to be increased and the organizers need to invite young participants to contribute new ideas and research papers focused on specific topics or themes. Also, I suggest that next time we choose one major topic that has significant importance and implications for the development of African nations.

Finally, I would also appeal for additional contribution to ALSF's activities and many countries to join this important organization.


Houda Nefzaoui Mimouni, conseillère juridique auprès du Conseiller juridique et de la législation du gouvernement, Premier ministère, Tunisie

« J’aurais souhaité avoir droit, au cours de ce séminaire, à des exercices de simulation de négociations et de rédaction de clauses contractuelles… »

Question : Quel bilan faites-vous de ce séminaire de trois jours, sur le renforcement des capacités de négociation et de résolution des différends sur les opérations commerciales complexes en Afrique du Nord ?

Réponse : La participation à ce séminaire régional, organisé conjointement par la BAD, la Facilité africaine de soutien juridique et l’Union panafricaine des juristes, a été une excellente opportunité pour moi à maints égards.

Ce genre de rencontres, entre les praticiens gouvernementaux et privés, les principaux bailleurs de fonds notamment la Banque africaine de développement, la Banque islamique de développement et les cabinets de conseils juridiques spécialisés, ne se tient pas tous les jours. Elle nous a permis de recenser les différentes faiblesses susceptibles d’entamer les clauses substantielles des conventions commerciales internationales, telles que celles relatives au  droit applicable au contrat ou celles relatives au règlement des différends. Cela nous a également permis de percevoir les préoccupations communes des participants sur les remèdes juridiques préconisés pour rétablir  l’équilibre du contrat.

L’identification des faiblesses inhérentes à la négociation des conventions aussi complexes que sensibles pour nos économies, a amené les cabinets d’avocats participant au séminaire à fournir de nouvelles ressources que je trouve personnellement très utiles dans la négociation des conventions de prêts.

De mon point de vue, le séminaire a été bien organisé. Il a été très riche en enseignement. Il a  également donné l’occasion aux juristes chargés des négociations, ainsi qu’aux experts internationaux, d’échanger leurs expériences dans ce domaine si complexe. Cela a favorisé, en quelque sorte, un précieux transfert de savoir-faire.

Cependant, j’aurais souhaité avoir droit, au cours de ce séminaire, à des exercices de simulation de négociations et de rédaction de clauses contractuelles, et à d’autres exercices pratiques permettant de rédiger des variantes de ces mêmes clauses favorables aux emprunteurs.  

Enfin, je remercie toutes les parties prenantes qui ont veillé à la bonne l’organisation et au déroulement de ce séminaire. Je nourris l’espoir que le contact sera maintenu entre les praticiens africains œuvrant dans le domaine de la négociation des transactions commerciales internationales, grâce à la base de données qu’entend instaurer l’ALSF.