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)

PACS | 19-May-2017
The BRICS Group was born in the century XXI with renewed expectations of changes in the world order through greater participation of the Global South. However, what we have witnessed so far is the consolidation of a new/old unequal world order.
Reuters | 17-May-2017
U.S. oil firm Cobalt said it had filed requests for arbitration seeking more than $2 billion from Angola’s state-run Sonangol.
Ecofin | 17-May-2017
Cobalt Energy a annoncé avoir déposé une demande d’arbitrage international dans laquelle il réclame 2 milliards de dollars au gouvernement angolais.
EJIL: Talk! | 15-May-2017
While the debate on the treaty regulating business impact on human rights is likely to continue for a while longer, some recent developments in international investment law seem to be moving forward on international human rights law obligations for businesses
SAT PR | 15-May-2017
The Rules on Transparency provide procedural rules that ensure transparency and public accessibility to treaty-based investor-State arbitration.
ISDS Blog | 11-May-2017
Morocco and Nigeria signed a new investment treaty, which is a good illustration of the new “generation” of investment protection.
Al-Ahram | 2-May-2017
Les pays africains envisagent la création d’une cour arbitrale africaine pour le règlement des litiges relatifs aux investissements. Cette solution parmi d’autres permettra d’assurer un meilleur équilibre entre la protection des investisseurs et la préservation des intérêts nationaux.
Reuters | 3-Apr-2017
U.S. oil firm Cobalt said it would seek arbitration if Angola’s state-run Sonangol failed to extend license deadlines on two deepwater blocks
Ecofin | 3-Apr-2017
L’américain Cobalt Energy a déclaré qu’il ferait recours à un arbitrage international contre le gouvernement angolais si celui-ci ne prolonge pas immédiatement sa licence sur deux blocs en eau profonde.
Lexology | 7-Mar-2017
Since 2012, South Africa, dissatisfied with its bilateral investment treaties (BITs), has either been terminating or non-renewing several of these.

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