Africa’s Sub-regional Courts, Infrastructure Development and Sustainability: Insight from the Serengeti Decision by Uche Ewelukwa Ofodile*

Introduction

On 20 June 2014, the East African Court of Justice (hereinafter “EACJ” or “the Court”) issued a decision barring the United Republic of Tanzania (hereinafter “Tanzania”) from constructing and maintaining a road known as the “Natta-Mugumu – Tabora B-Kleins Gate – Loliondo Road” (hereinafter, “the Road” or “the Superhighway”) across the northern wilderness of the Serengeti National Park (hereinafter “the Serengeti”). Continue reading

Africa and the System of Investor-State Dispute Settlement: To Reject or Not to Reject? Uche Ewelukwa Ofodile*

Abstract

This paper examines the position of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) regarding proposals to reform the investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) system. Despite their silence on ongoing discussions about the future of the ISDS system and possible pathways for reform, SSA countries are making their position on the issue known. The paper argues that the position of SSA countries can be gleaned from instruments that these countries have pushed for at the sub-regional level. In particular, in the Investment Agreement for the COMESA Common Investment Area (CCIA),[1] in the SADC Bilateral Investment Treaty Template (SADC Model BIT),[2] and even in the SADC Protocol on Investment, countries in SSA appear to express a desire for a radically transformed ISDS system. However, closer inspection suggests that SSA countries are inconsistent in their actions when it comes to reforming the ISDS mechanism. Although these countries espouse a vision of an ISDS mechanism that is different from the existing mechanism, their actions tell a different story. For example, the CCIA is not operational, the SADC Model BIT is not binding and very few countries, if any, have taken steps to model their bilateral investment treaties (BITs) after it. And in their BITs and related treaties, SSA countries still cling to the traditional approach to ISDS and BITs more generally. Furthermore, while SSA countries would prefer to limit investor access to ISDS, the demise of the SADC Tribunal in the wake of Mike Campbell (Pvt) Ltd and Others v. Republic of Zimbabweundermines efforts to project domestic and regional institutions in Africa as credible alternatives to international arbitration. The paper suggests that the inconsistent position of SSA countries on the ISDS question deserves closer study. Also deserving closer study is an assessment of the experience of SSA countries with the ISDS system since the system emerged some forty years ago. Finally, attention must be paid to the myriad of factors that presently limit the capacity of countries in Africa to negotiate tailored and development-oriented international investment agreements (IIAs) as well as factors that undermine their effective participation in the international investment law regime more generally.  Continue reading