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The African Development Bank (AfDB) and 29 Regional Member Countries (RMCs) have, so far, signed an agreement to establish The African Legal Support Facility (ALSF), which will become fully operational by the end of June.
Out of the 29 countries, nine have deposited their instruments of ratification acceptance or approval of the Agreement with the Secretary-General of the African Development Bank, acting as the Provisional Depository. The AfDB at the 2009 Annual Meetings in Dakar, Senegal urged that further signatories to the Facility’s agreement will facilitate the timely operationalization of its activities.
The countries that have signed the agreement include: Belgium, Benin, Burundi, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali.
Others are Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Aboubacar Fall, AfDB’s Principal Legal Counsel, explained: “the Facility is a demand- driven initiative,” noting that, “African Ministers of Finance have called for the establishment of a technical assistance structure, aimed at helping African countries on legal related issues especially in two areas. The first one is the Vulture Fund litigation.
Fall noted that “The first objective of the facility is to provide that kind of assistance. The second objective is to provide technical legal assistance in the negotiation of natural resources related transactions, such as mining concessions and so forth, which is of importance to our economies”.
Essentially, the ALSF is expected to provide a defense against Vulture Fund actions by minimizing diversion of debt relief gains; strengthening assistance to HIPC and fragile states; providing funding assistance for hiring qualified law firms in defense of debtors’ interests, amongst others. In addition, the ALSF will be used for complex commercial transactions to provide access to reliable legal support in negotiation by identifying and hiring highly qualified lawyers as well as enhance the fiscal viability of projects especially in extractive industries, amongst others.