Although developing countries are very eager to attract FDI through BITs, for most parts, they deliberately water down the environmental concerns. However, recently we have witnessed the incorporation of environmental standards and provisions in BITs. This ambitious effort however is usually frustrated by decisions of international arbitration tribunals.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is blessed with abundant energy resources both conventional and renewable. In Nigeria, crude oil exports account for about 90 percent of foreign exchange earnings and 80 percent of government revenue, thus making the country’s economy heavily reliant on oil revenue. However, global economies of both developed and developing countries are now embarking on transitions to sustainable low carbon economy. Given the move towards sources of renewable energy, this has adversely affected oil revenue, consequently, it is very important that Nigeria diversify its economy.
The Guide should better take into account that land deals and their potential negative impacts go beyond contract law, and require a more consistent incorporation of human rights and environmental law. Even though strengthening legal frameworks and standards at national and international level might be outside of the Guide’s scope, it needs to be clear about the institutional and legal context that is required to protect and guarantee human rights, as well as the importance of cooperation between states, including needed regulations in commercial and administrative law at national and international levels.
Unfortunately, the Guide appears to be blind to the way in which conceiving land and tenure rights in the context of global vale chains can multiply the relevant spaces of engagement and challenges the traditional notion of jurisdictional spaces and fragmentation. Luckily, communities, activists and lawyers acting on the ground have come to this realization long ago, and I believe that they will find the best way to use a document that aims to normalize large-scale investments but can also open new interesting spaces for political and legal resistance.
Based the observation from Ghana and Kenya, there is the need to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of investment tax incentives to ensure transparency, accountability, reduce associated costs, and check abuse.
Over the last decade, and especially in the mining sector, African state actors have begun to denounce unequal mining contracts, and are increasingly reviewing mining contracts accordingly. While African host states are seemingly taking it upon themselves to remedy real and perceived imbalances vis-à-vis investors in their mining contracts, a key question remains what structural reasons have led to such imbalances in the first place, and whose responsibility it is to address these structural issues: host states, investors, home states, international financial institutions, or all the above? This brief discussion contextualizes how responsibilities to redress unequal mining contracts may be shared.
With the purpose to bring together scholars and scholarship that highlights original and innovative thinking in IEL as it pertains to the African continent, the idea was to follow up with the existing tradition that consists in engaging with new scholarship and research on the continent’s contributions to, and involvement with IEL. This task proved at the same time challenging and quite rewarding. The call attracted responses of high calibres as reflected by the quality and quantity of abstracts received, as well as the global representation of the submissions.
Attracting foreign investment while holding transnational corporations to account for any human rights transgressions is by no means an easy feat. It will require that a careful balance be struck between the interests of the host State and its people, and that of private actors expecting good risk-return ratios in pursuit of the bottom line. Although international mechanisms such as the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have long endorsed accountability for transnational corporations, a zero draft international convention to regulate this issue has only recently been developed.
Upon improving its infrastructure, Nigeria could very easily leverage its economic base in distributing its products within Africa and internationally. This is already the case in its ‘soft’ products, such as the Nigerian film and music industry, which has seeped into all nooks of African continent, and is largely received internationally. This can be replicated in other aspects, once the foundation is properly laid internally.
Although the restructuring of the existing legal framework is unavoidable, the solution must be carefully sought in a conducive, fair and equitable manner to ensure the needs and interest of the marginalised communities should be considered. It is possible that this approach may provoke controversy, but it is vital ensuring uniform and equitable legal framework that address the need and interest of the marginalised communities to find a balance in the system.