ICC: Nigeria’s VP Identifies Effective Dispute Resolution Mechanism as key Catalyst for Economic Growth in Africa

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ICC: Nigeria’s VP Identifies Effective Dispute Resolution Mechanism as key Catalyst for Economic Growth in Africa

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called for strong and effective dispute resolution mechanisms in pursuance of Africa’s quest for sustainable  economic growth and inflow of investment.

The VP made the call as part of his  opening remarks at the 3rd International Court of Arbitration Conference held in Lagos, Nigeria.

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Afam Osigwe

Chukwuemeka Mbamala

Chukwuemeka Mbamala

Organised by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the conference had as its theme : “The Viability of Arbitration in Africa, Thinking Globally, and Acting Locally.”

In calling for strong dispute resolution mechanisms,  Prof.  Osinbajo added that investors,  whether domestic or foreign, look beyond pure economic fundamentals to  the following factors, among others: the assurance of  effective legal frameworks for enforcement of awards and a credible judicial system, which gives them a reasonable level of comfort and confidence.

Represented by his Senior Special Advisor on trade and investment, Dr Jumoke Oduwole, the VP was of the view that in recent decades, there has been an incredible expansion in global trade and investment, resulting in significant increases in the volume of arbitration cases on the continent.

“As a natural by-product,” he said, “there has been an increase in the number of international arbitration proceedings resulting from investment disputes. “However, while these arbitrators involve African parties or interests, most of these arbitrators have their seats outside Africa and sometimes do not even involve African institutions, law firms or legal practitioners.”

While the situation is not peculiar to Africa, Osinbajo hastened to add, relevant bodies need  to do more to enhance its role as the worldwide trade organisation, by championing issues of diversity and regional representation in the arbitration community.

The No. 2  also said that there was a provision for the establishment of a Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) in the recently executed African Free Trade Agreement, AFCFTA, which was adopted and signed by 44 African Union members nations in  March this year, adding that the  DSB provided a bespoke arbitration mechanism for dispute resolution through agreed rules between state parties to the agreement.

“I encourage all participants present at this conference to familiarise yourselves with the provisions of  AFCFTA.

“Our hope is that the move will encourage greater involvement of Africans in the settlement of inter-Africa trade disputes while promoting the deepening of intra-Africa trade, which Nigeria fully aligns with.”

The ICC’s annual conference is a key forum for dialogue on international commercial arbitration in Africa, providing indispensable updates on developments in the arbitration space.

“Nigeria is fast becoming a leading seat of Arbitration and settlement of investment dispute between contractual parties. The current administration has focused on the delivery of it’s promised economic growth in Nigeria as contained in  the government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) whose goal is to  keep the economy on the path of sustainable growth and global competitiveness.”

The vice president also commended the Chief Judge of Lagos State for establishing the Small Claims Court, adding that the Lagos State judiciary has also collaborated with the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), toward creating an enabling business environment for Nigerians and people doing business in the country.

Osinbajo noted that if Nigerians decide to develop a strong legal framework for arbitration,

including judicial reform on which PEBEC could drive on, there would be increased Foreign Direct Investment, not just into the country but into the entire subregion of West Africa as a whole.

He urged other member nations of the arbitration committee in various African jurisdictions to ratify and domesticate them as soon as possible.

NEWSWIRE Magazine correspondent in Lagos reports that the conference was also graced by the likes of  Mr Alexis Moore, President of the International Court of Arbitration, as well as Mrs Funke Adekoya (SAN), the Partner, AELEX Nigeria; Mr Babatunde Savage, the Chairman, ICCN, as well as other senior members of  the legal profession.

See photos below:

             

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