Given China’s spectacular and substantial investment into Africa, we believe Singapore and other Asian nations are also well placed to do likewise. As investors increasingly look further afield beyond developed markets for growth and returns, Africa, blessed with abundant natural resources and a youthful entrepreneurial population is the distant shining star shining brighter by the day. Explore and discuss the legal risk and protections which arise from doing business or investing in Africa. Our purpose is to educate ourselves about investment flowing into Africa predominantly from a legal perspective although we shall also cover topics such as political stability, national security, economic and infrastructure challenges in various African states. These risks and/or challenges raise the cost of investment and may deter foreign direct investment altogether which may adversely affect economic growth. It is vital therefore that businesses and investors already in Africa and those interested to make investments into Africa properly understand their legal rights and obligations according to domestic and international law.
A sound ADR and international arbitration framework provides international and local businesses as well as investors investing in Africa with the re-assurance that their business interests, investments and assets will be protected and thus reliance on unreliable and inefficient state courts will not be necessary. It is logical to assume that cost effective and transparent dispute resolution processes will encourage new businesses to venture into African markets. The SALI Club will look to explore the legal landscape and in particular consider the use and effectiveness of International Investment Agreements (“IIAs”), in particular, Bilateral Investment Treaties (“BITs”) executed between Asian and African States giving investors the ability to obtain arbitration awards which may be enforced against state assets. We shall also keep in mind the New York Convention (which has been adopted by more than half of all African states) and consider the general ease or difficulty found with enforcing arbitral awards on the African continent.
An non exhaustive list of the type of issues which typically gives rise to investment disputes under IIAs are: