Kigali International Arbitration Centre has received 54 cases, worth $100 million, since its official commencement in 2012, involving petitioners of ten different nationalities.
The Executive Director of the centre, Dr Fidele Masengo, disclosed this while briefing Police students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in law at the National Police College (NPC) in Musanze District, who Thursday visited the centre as part of their practical study tour.
“It is the first time that such a centre that has been in existence for less than five years has registered 54 cases. People might think that 54 is not a big number, but these cases involve about US$100 million. When you compare with most other centres around the world, it takes between three and five years for an arbitration centre to register at least one case,” he said.
“This is an international centre in arbitration and mediation. So far we have registered cases from ten different nationalities, including on matters of those from the USA, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, Italy, Kenya, and Uganda.”
He explained that the handled cases include private against public institutions, foreign firms against government entities including tenders and procurement, and private entity or business person against the other.
Headed by the acting Principal of Rwanda University-College of Arts and Social Sciences (UR-CASS), Dr Didas M. Kayihura, the aspiring legal practitioners were received by Dr Masengo, who took them into the five-year journey of the centre in arbitration and mediation services in commercial dispute resolution.
The National Police College is one of the three police schools, along side the Police Training School (PTS) Gishari and Counter Terrorism Training Centre in Mayange, Bugesera District.
The College, in partnership with the University of Rwanda, offers Bachelor’s of Law, Forensic Science, Information Security, and Bachelor’s of Arts in Professional Police Studies (PPS). It also offers a Master’s in Peace Studies and Conflict Transformation.
According to Dr Kayihura, they chose to visit KIAC because the students are currently undergoing a course on arbitration.
“Though arbitration has a bigger part of it in theory, it’s something that is practical. So we needed to have practical aspect, and that involves visiting such a centre for the students to get first-hand information on how it conducts its day-to-day business,” said Kayihura.
Dr Masengo explained to the students on what it requires for one to file an arbitration case, the centre’s response within 14 days and confidentiality.
The centre, he said, is independent and impartial, with six out of seven arbitrators picked by the Private Sector Federation.
“We mainly offer two services; arbitration and mediation, but we can also offer other components like negotiation and reconciliation.”
“We do case administration management; we register claims, participate in appointment of arbitrators, monitor the work of arbitrators until the completion of their work, review the awards and notify the parties,” he said.
While choosing an arbitrator, he said, they consider three essential aspects; impartiality, independence, and availability of the person.
Besides offering easy and affordable legal services, Masengo said, KIAC also works in a way that promotes investments in general by ensuring fairness.
“It’s very important for future lawyers and legal practitioners in different fields to know about arbitration because they are the people who will become legal advisors and lawyers of various institutions,” he said.
“It’s crucial for them to know how effective they will advise their institutions on the benefits of arbitration, rather than sending them to court; we also see this as capacity building…giving then basic training.”
Currently, the arbitration centre has more than 350 certified arbitrators.
Rwanda is the third country in Africa with the biggest number of people that have been certified arbitrators after Nigeria and Kenya.