Rwanda is set to host the 1st Annual Conference on International Arbitration on April 3rd and 4th. The Conference, co-organised by Kigali International Arbitration Center (KIAC) and the African Arbitration Association (AfAA), will be held at the Kigali Convention Centre (KCC).
Themed “The Coming of Age of International Arbitration in Africa,’ the Conference, hosting around 300 participants, will discuss Africa’s achievements in international arbitration to date and consider what more can be done to increase the participation of Africans in international arbitration. Participants will include arbitrators, academics, engineers, legal advisers, CEOs, and business people, among others.
Dr. Fidèle Masengo, the Secretary General of KIAC and Deputy Legal Representative of AfAA, said the Conference wants to promote the use of arbitration in Africa and reduce the number of disputes that are exported and settled by arbitrators overseas.
He said that the association seeks to deal with business and investment disputes on the continent, unlike currently when companies entering into contracts stipulate that any dispute that arises should be solved abroad, especially in Europe and USA.
“You understand that it is not the way it should be done. We are trying to tell them that we now have proven and mature institutions of arbitrators that can help to solve their disputes. We can even fly in an arbitrator if we want expertise. We need arbitration to be happening in Africa to reduce the cost.”
Masengo said that a lot is expected from the Conference. “I expect three things. I expect people to know more about the association, fully support it and commit to its mission. I also expect networking activities among participants so that they can start partnering in day-to-day activities. We also expect to validate our strategic plan. It will also be an opportunity for participants to learn more about Rwanda and see available opportunities. The participants will also discuss how the government and the judiciary can support arbitration on the continent.
Masengo said that KIAC has not only solved disputes locally but internationally too. So far they have resolved more than 106 cases involving Rwandan companies, government entities and foreign parties. Disputes from over 17 countries have been submitted to KIAC for arbitration.
The future of AfAA
AfAA was established in May 2018 and is headquartered in Rwanda. Under its constitution, adopted on 18 June, 2018, AfAA is a non-profit association that does not administer arbitrations but will act as a platform for African international arbitration practitioners and African arbitration institutions to enhance the capacity of African institutions and practitioners.
Arbitration is recognised as the most effective means of dispute resolution in the business world. “The future of AfAA is very good. We are trying to work with decision makers to support the organization. We will approach the African Union and the African Development Bank and seek to work with them as we build the capacity of African Arbitrators,” Masengo noted.
The major arbitration centers in Africa are Kigali International Arbitration Center, Cairo Arbitration Center, Nigeria Arbitration Center, and the Cameroon Arbitration Center.