The African Legal Support Facility ("ALSF" or the "Facility") which was approved by the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank ("AfDB" or the "Bank") on April 30, 2008, was formally established in June 2009, as a legally autonomous and independent institution, temporarily housed in the Bank while awaiting a final decision by ALSF's Governing Council. ALSF was established mainly as a response to calls from G-8 finance ministers and African finance ministers to:
- Assist AfDB’s Regional Member Countries (RMCs) address litigation brought against them by vulture funds (and other such entities) which creates obstacles to obtaining the full benefits of available debt relief;
- Create an avenue for regional members of the AfDB to access technical advice when negotiating complex commercial transactions (especially in the area of infrastructure and natural resources); and
- Invest in, and organize the training of legal counsels from participating RMCs to equip them with the legal expertise necessary to better represent their countries.
In line with its third objectives, the Facility would offer capacity building services via the Pan-African Lawyers’ Union (PALU) (The ALSF/PALU Capacity Building Project) in order to:
- Train specialized legal counsels, lawyers and practitioners in all the five (5) African regions (Central, Eastern, Western, Southern and Northern Africa);
- Build capacity in legal counseling in both public and private sectors, and provide the opportunity to develop certain skills or competences and/or upgrade performance ability. Improving negotiating skills of lawyers and legal practitioners in Africa is one of the Facility main targets.
- Build-up and update a database of leading African lawyers, legal counsels and practitioners
- The ALSF chose the PALU as it is an umbrella association of African and law societies. It brings together the continent’s five regional and fifty-three national lawyers’ associations, as well as individual member-lawyers. Its mission is to work towards the development of the law and legal profession, rule of law, human rights and socio-economic development of the African continent, including through supporting African integration.
Good governance, transparency and a strong private sector are the key features of an efficient economic development, along with a strong and solid legal environment. The importance of private sector actors will enable regional integration and improvement of best commercial practices and better contract negotiation techniques.
The purpose of the project is the organization of capacity building activities by PALU financed by the ALSF. And the ALSF, as a sponsor, will work with PALU towards the creation of a better legal environment that brings the kind of stability necessary to attract national and foreign investments in Africa.
Following the approval by the Management Board of the Facility of a USD 900,000 grant, the ALSF entered into an agreement with PALU dated 15 October 2010.
The financial support provided by the Facility is most importantly for the funding of five (5) seminars (in the African regional member countries of the Facility) in the five (5) regions of Africa (East, West, South North and Central).
Launching Ceremony in Kigali on Friday 11 February 2011:
This opening ceremony comprised the official launch the ALSF/PALU Capacity Building Project and announcement of the beginning of the 5 regional seminars across Africa. The President of Rwanda, the President of the AfDB, key Rwandan authorities, members of the government along with the 53 African bar leaders were invited. The East African Regional Seminars was scheduled to take place after the launch (from 14-16 February 2011) with 40 regional participants and local/international speakers invited to attend.
- The purpose and idea behind the ALSF/PALU launching ceremony was to reveal to key authorities, governments, bar leaders and legal professionals in and outside the African continent the existence and the creation of ALSF, PALU and this ALSF/PALU Capacity Building Project.
- The event also provided the opportunity to emphasize the fact that the Facility was created, most importantly, to assist and complement the work of regional members governments on important and complex commercial transactions and litigation involving vulture funds.
- Bring together local and international legal professionals, academics, experts and international institutions and give them the opportunity to learn, discuss and share experience on specific topics related
- To the question of rule of law and development and
- To the areas of intervention of the ALSF ((i.e. contract negotiation, PPPs, project finance, natural resources, extractive industries, arbitration, international dispute resolution and vulture funds).
- A unique occasion for all African bar leaders to attend and share views on the role of the law in key economical consultation meetings and law societies
It is important to note that events such as the launching ceremony and all the regional seminars provides the ALSF with the opportunity to
- Present the main objectives of the Facility;
- Meet the relevant members of the governments of the countries who did not sign the Agreement Establishing the Facility (the "Agreement") and encourage them to join the Facility; and
- Encourage financial contributions from all countries.
Regional Seminars in Africa
As mentioned above, PALU will organize five (5) regional seminars in Africa.
The intention is to have a maximum of forty (40) participants per seminar, drawn from all countries in each African region, taking into account the resources and the demographic strength of each country.
The objectives of the Regional Seminars are to:
- Assess as well as build capacity for complex international commercial negotiations in Africa;
- Assess as well as build capacity for international commercial dispute resolution and also defence of Vulture Fund Litigation in Africa;
- Market ALSF and motivate ratifications/accessions amongst African States that have not yet done so;
- • Build a database of knowledgeable, skilled and experienced international commercial lawyers in Africa.