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Leveraging International Commercial Law to Serve Economic Development in Africa

Kigali, Rwanda

Kigali, February 9th, 2011 – The African Legal Support Facility (ASLF) and the Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU) will jointly launch a capacity building project in international commercial law on the 11 and 12 February in Kigali, Rwanda. The importance of leveraging the rule of law to serve economic development, better governance and improved business climate on the continent will be addressed. 

The ASLF, launched in 2009 was initiated by the African Development Bank (AfDB) at a time when “vulture funds” were expanding. At the end of 2007, half of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries surveyed by the International Monetary Fund were facing litigation. The mission of the Facility is to provide African countries and highly indebted countries in particular, with access to legal advice for the resolution of commercial litigation as well as rectifying the asymmetry of negotiating capabilities. 

Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, and AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, will be there to support the launch of this important capacity-building project to be followed by legal seminars in the various African regions. The AfDB, which hosts the ALSF, strongly believes that the programme will put the law at the service of economic development. 

More than 100 participants including heads of African national bar associations are expected to attend. Many questions will be debated including how the Facility could assist with asset recovery, including illegally or corruptly appropriated assets transferred from Africa to tax havens and other non-compliant jurisdictions.

The objectives of the regional capacity-building seminars are threefold :

  • Build capacity for complex international commercial negotiations in Africa;
  • Build capacity for international commercial dispute resolution and provide defence in Vulture Funds Litigation in Africa;
  • Build a database of knowledgeable, skilled and experienced international commercial lawyers in Africa.

The two-day East African capacity-building seminar scheduled to commence on 14 February in Kigali, will be the first regional legal support seminar held after the official launch of the project.

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