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A group of more than 70 lawyers from west and central African lawyers attended a briefing on the working of the African Development Bank (AfDB) group in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on 13 March 2012. The event involved the AfDB’s African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) and the Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU).
In particular, the lawyers were instructed on the legal and operational aspects of the AfDB’s financing of infrastructure projects.
Souley Amadou, from the AfDB’s private sector department, briefed the participants on the organizational structure of the AfDB Group and described its main financial products.
He explained the main difference between loans from the African Development Bank and the AfDB’s African Development Fund (ADF), noting that ADF loans were provided on concessional terms with long pay-back periods.
He went on to discuss the different ways that the Bank’s regional member countries are categorized.
He told the lawyers that, in the region, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea were the only two countries ranked as Category C, meaning that they could borrow on non-concessional terms.
Cape Verde and Nigeria, he said, were Category B ‘blend’ countries, meaning they could borrow on both concessional and non-concessional terms.
He went on to explain that these categorizations were made jointly with Bretton Woods institutions.
Ms Annemarie Mecca, principal legal counsel at the AfDB, presented on: “Key aspects of financing infrastructure projects from the AfDB perspective.” This talk focused on the eligibility of borrowers, procurement procedures, environmental and social issues, and other issues.
She proceeded to explain the AfDB’s use of privileges and immunities and their importance for how the AfDB operated in the RMCs. On the specific issue of the AfDB’s immunity from legal process in its legal operations, Ms Mecca said: “The Bank usually provides for arbitration in its financing agreements as a dispute resolution avenue and agrees to honor the final award of the arbitral tribunal.”
She also indicated that borrowers were required to waive their immunities when borrowing from the Bank, noting that AfDB itself did not have immunities when borrowing. She highlighted the fact that due to the heightened risks involved in infrastructure projects, the AfDB assists RMCs in complying with environmental and social safeguards policies.
She urged the lawyers present to familiarize themselves with the relevant policies and regulations of the AfDB, and informed them that they were publicly available on the AfDB’s website.