Top lawyers from both private and public institutions in the country have convened at Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in Kigali for a two-day workshop to discuss emerging trends in investment and commercial arbitration.
This is part of the efforts to promote Rwanda as an attractive destination for investment and choice for administering international investment disputes, according to Serge Kamuhinda, the chief operations officer at RDB.
“Rwanda is among the fastest growing economies in the world and this growth comes with many international investment deals. It is, therefore, important to increase legal expertise in investment negotiations and disputes settlement,” Kamuhinda said.
The meeting was organised in partnership with Kigali International Arbitration Centre (KIAC), and facilitators include individuals like Emmanuel Gaillard, an attorney with Shearman & Sterling LLP, a UK-based law firm that is considered an authority in international commercial arbitration.
Gaillard is also a professor of law.
Addressing the learned fraternity, Gaillard explained that much as there has been significant growth in arbitration systems in Africa, there still existed gaps whch had led most arbitration cases adjudicated from countries outside the continent.
“At least 95 per cent of the cases involving African countries are adjudicated in England, France, Switzerland and other European countries. It is imperative that the trend changes to ensure African nations handle most of their cases,” he said.
Gaillard also gave the overview of the current operations of other international arbitration centres across the world and why they have been able to position themselves in a competitive market.
However, he applauded Rwanda’s arbitration centre, KIAC, for ratifying the UN Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, and the efforts made to promote the centre in the region.
According to KIAC, 41 international and domestic arbitration cases have been registered in a few years of the institution’s existence.
The latest report from the World Economic Forum ranked KIAC top in Africa and also placed the centre at the 17th position across the globe in terms of pillars of institution and is the 21st in terms of judicial independence ahead of Australia, Germany, Mauritius and other countries.
Dr Fidele Masengo, the KIAC executive directorsaid: “Arbitration provides a significant contribution toward facilitating foreign investment and trade. Investors’ confidence will only be raised knowing that any dispute they enter into will be effectively and efficiently resolved.”
He added that KIAC administers arbitration under its own rules with observance of other instruments like the UN Commission on International Trade Law and is a signatory to the 1958 New York Convention making foreign Arbitral Awards enforceable in any other country signatory to the convention.