Third SOAS University of London Arbitration in Africa Conference – 3-5 April, 2017
The third conference in the series of four identified themes of the four years research project of the SOAS University of London Arbitration in Africa Conferences, which is titled “Creating a Sustainable Culture of Arbitration as a mechanism for Commercial Dispute Resolution in Africa”, took place from 3 to 5 April, 2017, in Cairo, Egypt. The theme of the present conference was “The Role of African States and Governments in Supporting the Development of Arbitration in Africa”.
This conference primarily focused on the role of African governments (executive and legislative branches) in creating efficient legal and regulatory environments for arbitration (and its support industries) to thrive. The discussions further interrogated the performance of various African States and explored how they can contribute to the promotion and growth of arbitration in their various States and across the continent. In 2015 at the first conference, held at the African Union Commission, Addis Ababa, the role of arbitral institutions in the development of arbitration in Africa was examined. The 2016 conference, which was hosted by the Lagos Court of Arbitration Centre, examined the role courts and judges play in the development of arbitration in Africa.
The conference was divided into various specific sessions, namely: Year 2 Update from Arbitration Institutions in Africa, Attitude of African Governments towards Arbitration, Roundtable with UNCITRAL, Legal Environment for Investment Arbitration, and View from Outside Africa. AALCO Secretary General, Prof. Kennedy Gastorn, spoke at the session on Roundtable with UNCITRAL on the topic “Issues relating to Adoption of Arbitration related UNCITRAL Texts by the African States: Reason behind Fewer Adoptions and Possible Remedial Measures”. In his address Prof. Gastorn spoke on the current status of the adoption of arbitration related UNCITRAL texts amongst the African States, the reasons behind the few adoptions, and finally on how the existing national institutions within the African States may be strengthened in order to make the environment within Africa more conducive and accommodating for more and more international commercial arbitration to be held therein.
The conference was attended by many delegates, including arbitration practitioners, lawyers, judges, academics, researchers and students. The discussions saw a wide participation from almost all over the African continent, and also elsewhere.