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)

Al Wihda | 22-Feb-2020
Une société de services financiers, basée aux États-Unis, a saisi le CIRDI au sujet d’un différend avec le Cameroun lié à une série de plateformes numériques.
The East African | 10-Feb-2020
One of Tanzania’s concessions to Barrick in the new deal is the right to seek international arbitration in case of disputes.
Algérie7 | 10-Feb-2020
Le tribunal arbitral a rejeté l’ensemble des demandes de la société Consutel, dont un montant s’élevant à 408,880 millions de dollars US, en guise réparations requises pour cause de présumés dommages subis.
Medias24 | 6-Feb-2020
La procédure au fond suspendue dans le litige entre le Maroc et Sholz. La partie marocaine a soulevé une question de compétence. Sholz revoit ses prétentions à la baisse.
| 31-Jan-2020
We civil society organizations and trade unions from the African continent express our concerns about the proposal presented by the European Union to establish a multilateral investment court and support further reaching reforms of ISDS.
CIAR Global | 30-Jan-2020
La compañía española Unión Fenosa Gas presiona a Egipto ante tribunales estadounidenses para que cumpla el laudo del arbitraje por la planta de Damietta, por el que debe afrontar el pago de 2 billones de dólares
ObservAlgerie | 24-Jan-2020
Le holding suisse United Agencies de la compagnie maritime Marine Shipping Co (MSC) demande à obtenir le transfert des dividendes de sa filiale MSC Algeria qui serait bloqué par le gouvernement algérien.
Kluwer Arbitration Blog | 20-Jan-2020
Despite debates about crisis in investment treaty arbitration, most emerging market economies are concluding BITs that provide for ISDS and emerging market multinational companies appear to welcome ISDS.
The Citizen | 20-Jan-2020
The dispute is related to Canada-based company Montero Mining’s investment in the Wigu Hill rare earth element project.
Mining Technology | 20-Jan-2020
Australian mining company Indiana Resources has become the second company in a week to declare a dispute with the Tanzanian government over repossessed retention licences.

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