Rwanda, after being known as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and as the 2nd easiest place to do business in Africa, the country is gradually gaining fame for its proven success in promoting Arbitration and other ADR mechanisms.
Realizing that the country’s potential growth of international trade involving ‘foreign’ parties could lead to an increase in commercial disputes, the Kigali International Arbitration Centre (KIAC) was established by an Act of Parliament in 2011. The Centre, independent body, was launched in May 2012 under the auspices of the Rwanda Private Sector in partnership with the Government of Rwanda.
KIAC’s vision is to be the leading choice for international commercial arbitration and other ADR services. The centre’s core mandate is to provide efficient institutional support to domestic and international commercial dispute resolution proceedings and to become a centre of excellence for research and training of professionals in ADR. The Centre now boasts of its own facilities with high-end hearing rooms and infrastructure required to deliver world class arbitration service.
Arbitration in Rwanda
Arbitration is a private, flexible, consensual process for resolving commercial disputes in a binding, enforceable manner by an impartial tribunal consisting of one or more arbitrators. In Rwanda, arbitration is relatively a new concept which was adopted to ensure that commercial parties would be able to access an alternative way to resolve their disputes and consequently reduce the backlog of cases in the Rwandan courts.
KIAC administers cases under KIAC arbitration Rules and UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. The KIAC Arbitration contract clause can be adopted before a dispute has arisen, or after a dispute has arisen. KIAC boasts of worldwide panel of experienced, credible international arbitrators and a panel of domestic arbitrators.
What are the advantages of using Arbitration?
In contrast to litigation, where one cannot choose the judge, arbitration allows the parties to choose their own tribunal. Parties are free to appoint their Arbitrator of choice, especially useful when the subject matter of the dispute is highly technical. Arbitral proceedings and an arbitral award are generally non-public, and can be made confidential unlike in litigation where proceedings are conducted publicly. Arbitration awards are final and binding just like a judgment by court, and have extra-territorial enforceability unlike court verdicts. Parties get to choose a time frame for Arbitration; number of hearings, the venue of Arbitration.
KIAC Key Achievements
KIAC registered 57 cases since the first Year of operations in 2012. However, worth noting is that in the last ten months alone, KIAC has received 17 cases. The nationalities of parties to these cases whose amount varies up to 34.5 Million USD are from USA, Rwanda, Kenya, Italy, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, Dubai, Germany and Zambia. With international cases already under KIACs administration, it is a statement of confidence that Rwanda is playing a key role in positioning Africa on the market of international Arbitration. The cases are from various sectors ranging from construction and engineering to infrastructure and services. Worth mentioning is that none of the awards issues by KIAC has been set aside in the Rwandan courts.
Intensive awareness campaign at local, regional and international Level
The impressive caseload highlighted is a result of an intensive awareness campaigns about the potential use of arbitration among business community, selected embassies and potential clients using conferences, networking seminars and lobbying at local, regional and international forums. A survey concluded in July 2015 showed that 91% of respondents had become aware of KIAC services in general.
Training and certification of professionals has been the most effective way of fostering a sustainable pro-arbitration culture and ensuring greater efficiency among professionals in Rwanda and in the region. Over 350 professionals have been trained and certified by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators from various professions; judges, lawyers, engineers, architects, accountants, Corporate Counsels and legal officers in public institutions. The training program attracted also participants from the region, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, USA, and South Sudan. Other training programs were conducted in Mediation, adjudication, contract management.
Rwanda will host two major conferences on Arbitration
The East Africa International Arbitration Conference 2017 scheduled to take place at SERENA on 28th & 29th September 2017.
The School of Oriental and African Studies/University of London -Arbitration in Africa Conference in May 2018
Arbitration is not only a legal concept or a form of justice. It is an international market which includes but not limited to other sectors such as investment promotion and tourism. Rwanda has the unquestionable potential to become an international choice for arbitration and thanks to the major pillars that the country has established, notably; the vibrant economy, political stability, lowest crime rate in Africa and good governance
For more information, please contact
Kigali International Arbitration Centre, P.O Box 695 Kigali, Rwanda
Nyarutarama, KG 9 AV. N°. 66