Africa

African states are party to over 900 investment agreements, the vast majority of which have been signed with non-African countries.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Treaty, signed by Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo, contains investment-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions, but no disputes have been registered to date

In 2006, Members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland) signed the SADC Finance and Investment Protocol that also includes the ISDS mechanism. Only two claims have been registered under these terms, both against Lesotho (but the governments in the region do not typically disclose such information). In 2016 amendments to the protocol were adopted. They eliminated ISDS provisions (only state-to-state arbitration remained) and narrowed the scope of investors’ rights.

In South Africa, shortly after settling a dispute with foreign mining companies over its new post-apartheid mining rules (Piero Foresti & Others case), the government began to withdraw from bilateral investment treaties (BIT) that include ISDS, arguing they belonged to a bygone era. It claimed BITs focus on the interests of investors from developed countries and do not address concerns of developing countries.

The South African government decided to develop a new model BIT and strengthen its domestic legislation in regard to the protection offered to foreign investors, such as compatibility of BIT-type protection with South African law. South Africa also sought to incorporate legitimate exceptions to investor protection where warranted by public interest considerations.

Provisions of South Africa’s new model BIT] have been incorporated into SADC’s. This model sets out provisions that mitigate the risks of earlier treaties and leaves open the option for state-to-state dispute settlement in addition to investor-state dispute settlement procedures.

In 2014, voices from the Namibian government cast doubts on the correlation between foreign direct investment and investment treaties including ISDS. They argued that ISDS represented a risk for developing countries, due to important legal fees and awards which can pose a significant budgetary threat. Further, statistics show most claimants come from developed countries.

About 20% of all ICSID arbitration disputes have involved African states.

Egypt has been the fourth most targeted state worldwide with 26 registered ISDS cases against it. It is currently facing a dispute initiated by French utility services giant Véolia over a law increasing the minimum wage.

In 2013, an arbitration court ordered Libya to pay US$935 million in a dispute over a land-leasing contract for a tourism project, making it one of the largest known awards to date.

Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo have been the most targeted in sub-Sahara Africa, both with four disputes all initiated by Belgian and US investors respectively.

(February 2017)

Both Ends | 20-Jun-2018
Both ENDS a envoyé une lettre, signée par différentes organisations de la société civile, à la Ministre néerlandaise du commerce et du développement, l’incitant à terminer le traité bilatéral d’investissement entre les Pays Bas et Burkina Faso.
Both Ends | 20-Jun-2018
Both ENDS sent a letter, signed by various civil society organisations, to the Dutch Minister of Aid & Trade to urge her to terminate the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) that exists between the Netherlands and Burkina Faso.
RFI | 2-May-2018
Pouvoir recourir à l’arbitrage, c’est une des clauses qu’exige une compagnie lorsqu’elle signe un contrat dans un pays étranger, pour ne pas dépendre des juridictions locales.
Morocco World News | 2-May-2018
The US-based private equity firm Carlyle, is suing the Moroccan government for over USD 400 million in the ICSID, claiming the sum is equivalent to the profit lost when Morocco’s sole refinery went bankrupt three years ago.
Medias24 | 2-May-2018
Le fonds d’investissement et ses entités menacent le Maroc d’un recours devant le CIRDI. Ils réclament le remboursement de plus de 400 millions de dollars, montant correspondant à leur créance sur la Samir.
Defi Media | 26-Apr-2018
Quantum Global menace de recourir à un arbitrage international si le contentieux avec les autorités locales n’est pas résolu dans un délai de six mois.
Daily Nation | 24-Apr-2018
The government risks losing up to Sh500 billion in an international arbitration case against mining firm, Cortec, after it failed to provide Sh100 million in the second mini-budget to pay a UK-based law firm representing it in the case.
Observatoire des Multinationales | 18-Apr-2018
Le groupe français a décidé une nouvelle fois, après l’avoir fait contre l’Argentine, l’Égypte ou encore la Lituanie, de saisir un tribunal arbitral international.
Defi Media | 9-Apr-2018
La double nationalité de Dawood Rawat lui prive de l’opportunité de saisir le tribunal de la Cour permanente d’arbitrage pour réclamer des dommages d’un milliard de dollars américains à l’état mauricien.
Kluwer Arbitration Blog | 28-Mar-2018
Whilst arbitrations involve African parties or interests, most of these arbitrations have their seat outside Africa.

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