The African Union Commission estimated that Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) could shrink by up to 4.51 percent, resulting in the loss of 20 million jobs. The looming debt crisis further complicates the pandemic-induced economic shock, severely limiting governments' ability to repay their foreign loans and address the current crisis. From 2010 to 2018, the average public debt in sub-Saharan Africa increased by 40%-59% of GDP, making it the continent with the fastest-growing debt accumulation toward sovereign, private and multilateral lenders.
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
Investors have shown time and time again that they will not hesitate to challenge regulatory measures not matter what a states’ underlying intent is. Only when the COVID-19 dust has settled will it be known which states had robust, well-crafted COVID-19 regulatory measures that can survive investor claims.
States could rely on secondary rules on State responsibility to defend preventative measures relating to COVID-19, yet their successful invocation depends on satisfying several conditions set out in the ILC’s Draft Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, a discussion of which is beyond the scope of this post. Meanwhile, the applicability of the doctrine of margin of appreciation, developed by the European Court of Human Rights, to the claims arising under BITs has been accepted, justifying why investment tribunals should pay deference to governmental judgments of national requirements in the protection of public health when the “discretionary exercise of sovereign power, [is] not made irrationally and not exercised in bad faith”
The AfCFTA seeks to change the manner in which African states trade with each other. The existence of the AfCFTA is what Roscoe Pound termed using the law as a tool of social engineering. The African Union in creating the AfCFTA intended to promote, facilitate and eventually experience free intra-African trade. This review appreciates the AfCFTA but seeks to criticize a loophole it has created
This article contends that premised on being Africa’s major trading partners, economies such as the US, the EU, and China are likely to experience trade diversion when the AfCFTA comes into force. As a result of such potential trade diversion, the implementation of the AfCFTA could be hindered. It is only by addressing the interests of these economies that AfCFTA will foreclose the possibility of a “crisis of implementation”.