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)

IGIHE | 12-Feb-2019
Un groupe d’investisseurs américains prétend que le Rwanda a illégalement saisi leurs concessions et « nationalisé » leurs avoirs ainsi que leurs activités minières. Ils exigent une indemnisation 95 millions de dollars.
The East African | 11-Feb-2019
A group of US investors have taken Rwanda to an international court, seeking compensation of $95 million after the government seized their mining concessions, effectively denying them operating licences.
La Vie Eco | 24-Jan-2019
La multinationale allemande estime que le gouvernement marocain a entravé son investissement dans une unité de recyclage des déchets ferreux, en fermant abusivement les frontières à ses exportations de ferraille E40 à partir de l’année 2013.
Medias24 | 15-Jan-2019
La société allemande, qui dénonce des mesures "discriminatoires et arbitraires" imposées par le gouvernement marocain dans le secteur de la sidérurgie, réclame 60 millions d’euros au Maroc.
Medias24 | 7-Jan-2019
Le litige concerne un projet d’industrie métallurgique. Scholz conteste une mesure de sauvegarde appliquée par le Maroc sur l’importation des déchets ferreux et l’exportation de fil de béton.
Morocco World News | 7-Jan-2019
A metallurgical industry project is the center of the dispute.
Kluwer Arbitration Blog | 2-Jan-2019
Since 2017, the country has shown a hostile attitude towards international arbitration.
Medias24 | 13-Dec-2018
Le récent accord devrait ainsi éviter au Maroc un hasardeux litige devant le Centre international de règlement des différends relatifs aux investissements (CIRDI), organisme rattaché à la Banque mondiale.
Reuters | 5-Dec-2018
Foreign investors say the tax hikes under the new code will deter further investment and have threatened to challenge some parts of the regulation in arbitration.
Medias24 | 5-Dec-2018
Au CIRDI, le tribunal arbitral chargé du litige opposant le Maroc à la société suédoise Corral Morocco Holding a tenu sa première session.

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