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)

Milieu Defensie | 12-Jan-2018
The French oil company Total evicts people from their land in Uganda to make room for an oil processing facility.
Petro Barometer | 2-Jan-2018
Shell used an arbitration case it filed with the International Centre for the Settlement of International Disputes to railroad the government into brokering truce between it and Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, its estranged erstwhile partner and the original licensee.
Express Tribune | 2-Jan-2018
The government has spent over Rs2 billion to win a case in the international court over the acquisition of assets of Progas Pakistan Limited company – worth Rs2.3 billion.
IISD | 22-Dec-2017
Tanzania passed three new laws that significantly change the regulatory landscape governing natural resources and the mining sector in particular.
All Africa | 21-Dec-2017
Sonangol E.P and Cobalt International Energy, Inc announced the signing of an agreement to resolve all disputes between the two companies.
Express Tribune | 15-Dec-2017
Last year, Pakistan won a case against the UK-based shareholder of Progas Pakistan in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.
Radio Algérie | 23-Nov-2017
Le CIRDI vient de procéder à l’installation d’un comité ad hoc pour statuer sur un recours introduit par Orascom TMT Investment dans le cadre de l’arbitrage l’opposant à l’Algérie.
Politics Web | 23-Oct-2017
The Protection of Investment Act affords foreign investors no protections beyond domestic law, and pointedly disavows investor-state international arbitration. The SADC Protocol was also amended by the SADC Summit of heads of state and government.
Ecofin | 19-Oct-2017
La firme exploratoire African Petroleum a annoncé avoir déposé auprès du CIRDI les documents relatifs à sa demande d’arbitrage dans le cadre du conflit qui l’oppose au gouvernement gambien.
Reuters | 19-Oct-2017
African Petroleum Corp has begun arbitration proceedings over Gambia’s decision to strip the company of its rights to explore for oil in two offshore areas.

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