Why Africa will have better negotiated trade deals

The SGR site at Ngong. African governments should create an enabling environment for the private sector to participate more in the development of critical infrastructure on the continent.[Photo/Njenga Hakeenah]

Better negotiated trade deals could be the way Africa goes after the African Legal Support Facility completed a two-day workshop for African lawyers and government negotiators.

The training is aimed at strengthening their capacity to negotiate complex deals involving investments in key economic sectors.

The workshop, co-organized with the African Business Law Firms Association (ABFLA) under the African Legal Support Facility Academy, was held in Accra, Ghana, in February.

In a bid to strengthen its capacity to support African countries with their creditor litigation and negotiations for complex commercial transactions, the Accra workshop had forty government negotiators and 30 lawyers in private practice representing public and private organizations across Africa in attendance.

Bad Chinese SGR deals in Kenya

It is feared that Kenya could lose key assets if it failed to repay its loans given by the Chinese to finance the much-touted Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

With pundits saying that its construction costs were grossly inflated, the project has been extended from Nairobi to the inland port in Naivasha.

Already, the project which was meant to ease cargo haulage from the port city of Mombasa is suffering from low business as businessmen prefer using roads to transport their goods.

They argue that it is cheaper to transport cargo from Mombasa to Nairobi on road rather than the SGR whose charges are exorbitant.

Kenya risks losing port of Mombasa to China Exim bank should Kenya Railways Corporation default the 227 billion shillings (USD 2.229 billion) it owes the bank.

The loan was used to construct the SGR, using the Kenya Ports Authority’s (KPA) revenue as collateral for the government’s debt.

According to a letter sent to the Kenya Ports Authority by the Auditor General, the payment agreement means that the Authority’s revenue would be used to pay the debt if the minimum volumes required for consignment are not met.

Gaps between lawyers’ academic training and legal practice

In his opening remarks, Stephen Karangizi, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the African Legal Support Facility said the topics covered were “carefully chosen to fill identified knowledge gaps between lawyers’ academic training and legal practice.”

Participants benefited from a wide array of rich legal contributions and content on the techniques needed to successfully negotiate sustainable and equitable investment agreements for projects in the energy, mining, oil and gas sectors.

The negotiation and legal intricacies of infrastructure projects and public-private partnerships were also covered.

Participants and government officials attending the workshop commended the initiative, stating that the skills acquired were relevant and vital for the effective and efficient discharge of their professional duties and official responsibilities.

The ALSF academy’s curriculum

The academy’s curriculum was co-developed by the African Legal Support Facility, national and regional bar associations, including the Southern African Development Community Lawyers Association (SADCLA), the East African Law Society (EALS) and the International Training Centre in Africa for Francophone Lawyers (CIFAF) based in Cotonou, Benin.

The academy’s capacity building initiative is also accessible virtually via a portal with learning tools and documentation sourced from the ALSF library.

Similar ALSF Academy sessions were held in Kigali, Rwanda, and Cotonou, Benin, in October and November 2018.

ALSF and the African Development Bank Group

ALSF is an international organization hosted by the African Development Bank Group.

It is dedicated to funding legal advice and technical assistance to African countries in their negotiation of complex commercial transactions, creditor litigation and other related sovereign transactions.

The ALSF also develops and proposes innovative tools for capacity building and knowledge management.

Electrifying the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR

Despite the inflated costs and plunder, plans are underway to modify the Mombasa-Nairobi section of the SGR at an estimated cost of Sh25 billion.

Under the plan, there is an option of electrifying the operations.

At a cost of Sh324 billion, the current design did not factor in electrifying the line thus any plans come at an extra cost.

You can also read about racism, poor working conditions for Kenyans as SGR Phase 2 takes shape.

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