Africa

African states are party to over a thousand investment agreements, the vast majority of which have been signed with non-African countries.

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 11% of all arbitration disputes have involved African states.

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.

Egypt has been the fifth most targeted state worldwide with 34 registered ISDS cases against it. Tanzania has been the most targeted country in sub-Sahara Africa with six disputes, all of which were initiated by European investors.

Photo: Hansueli Krapf / CC BY-SA 3.0

(April 2020)

New Straits Times | 20-Oct-2021
Sudan’s government confiscated Petronas’s assets on the grounds that they were acquired "through illegal means" during Omar al-Bashir’s regime. Some argue that Sudan is turning on its allies "under the pretext of fighting corruption".
The Malaysian Reserve | 15-Oct-2021
PETROLIAM Nasional Bhd (Petronas) has led a request for arbitration at the International Centre for Settlement of Dispute in the absence of positive development on Sudan’s transitional government’s decision to confiscate the company’s assets in Khartoum, Sudan.
The Guardian | 11-Oct-2021
In pursuit of growth in Africa, British American Tobacco and others use intimidatory tactics to attempt to suppress health warnings and regulation, including accusing governments of breaching trade agreements.
Médias24 | 11-Oct-2021
Finetis lance un arbitrage contre le Maroc pour "violation du traité bilatéral" signé par le Maroc et la France en 1996. Le nom de cette société avait été cité dans une affaire de détournement de trafic de télécommunications.
Globalization and Health | 8-Sep-2021
Given the potential for wider use of the ISDS mechanism, strategies to protect public health policy space in the context of both international trade and investment treaty and dispute settlement contexts remain important.
Mining Law Canada Blog | 6-Sep-2021
These decisions have the potential to significantly impact companies with current and future mining and development licences where there are questions around environmentally sensitive areas.
Vanguard News Nigeria | 2-Sep-2021
AfCFTA roundtable brought together business leaders, academia, government representatives, trade, and legal experts to discuss and deliberate on dispute issues in implementing the agreement in Nigeria.
Proactive | 18-Aug-2021
Pathfinder Minerals PLC has gained ground after some progress towards settling a dispute in Mozambique.
IOL | 18-Aug-2021
RUSSIAN attorneys have warned they will institute international arbitration proceedings against South Africa for failing to protect their client Transasia Mineral’s investment after the company was allegedly defrauded of R458 million by a local businessman.
The Reporter | 15-Aug-2021
The Hague based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) passed its final judgment on Friday rejecting the Israel based mining company’s, Israel Chemical Limited (ICL) compensation claims filed against the government of Ethiopia.

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