I got very interested in Africa’s international courts more than a decade ago when I was writing a book on Africa’s trade regimes. I was surprised to learn that Africa’s international courts, although established as trade courts had ended up being human rights courts. I soon realized that the first generation of scholarship on Africa’s international courts had transplanted analytical tools for assessing their performance that did not showcase the entirety of their impacts. The moment between that realization and The Performance of Africa’s International Courts: Using International Litigation for Political, Legal, and Social Change, OUP, 2020 was a long five years. This book project has therefore come a long way from April 2016 when I hosted an authors’ workshop.
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) holds great promise for the continent with the agreement expected to increase intra-African trade and secure socio-economic benefits for member States. Despite trade under the new agreement commencing on 1 January 2020, members are yet to conclude negotiations on the issue of Rules of Origin (RoO). RoO are mechanisms used to determine the economic nationality of a product. Preferential RoO constitute an essential part of preferential trade arrangements, such as Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). Annex 2 of the AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Goods makes provision for RoO that will provide for a single set of criteria to be applied across the continent. However, discussions on the substantive RoO, which are to be articulated in Appendix IV of Annex 2, are yet to be finalised. In the meantime, member States are expected to apply the preferential RoO covered by their relevant Regional Economic Communities (RECs) until harmonisation is achieved through the AfCFTA’s rules.
Rwanda envisions itself as the next Luxembourg or the next Singapore; a new financial center that will turn East Africa into an international power player and will service financial transactions throughout the African continent and beyond. While other financial centers are often accused of being tax havens, Rwanda is determined to avoid that label. It says the new hub, the Kigali International Financial Center (KIFC), will not allow business activity designed to avoid taxation. Details are forthcoming but Rwanda Finance Limited, the government entity that is developing the project, says all investments at KIFC must have a substantive business and economic purpose.
Fox and Bakhoum’s fairly broad analysis focusing on West, East, and Southern African countries brings to fore the real challenges at play in Africa. It is a fragmented, stratified yet at times vertically united legal and policy landscape. While they observe the need for convergence of competition law at the continental or regional level, they note the different states of developmental progress among sub-Saharan African countries hence concede the need for the fragmented approach
Arguably, Fox and Bakhoum’s Making Markets Work for Africa does more than take part in this literature, it helps bring it into focus, crystallizing its insights and articulating a number of its internal debates. Perhaps this assessment should be nuanced a bit. Despite their extensive footnotes and their admirable collaborative scholarship and drive to work from and with African sources (for instance with the Quarterly Competition Review produced by CCRED), the book is focused more on the policy problem than on the existing literature about the problem. This is not a book about books; it is a book about identifying a complex economic situation with challenges and opportunities and charting and driving a particular line in favour of a better life for Africa’s population.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is a regional grouping of 21 African States which have agreed to promote regional integration through trade development and transport facilitation. More information can be obtained from the COMESA website www.comesa.int. Applications are invited from suitably qualified and experienced professionals for the following position.
August 19, 2019
One would be justified in thinking that AU member states have intentionally created a court which they consciously know they would hardly use given the inertia identified above. If the reforms that would extend standing to private parties are not undertaken, there is little guarantee that Member States will suddenly change their habits. Assuming for once that they trigger the mechanism, it is also very likely that, consistent with their practice for political solutions to legal problems, they would not proceed beyond the consultation and good offices stages provided in Articles 7 and 8 of the Dispute Settlement Protocol.
This book symposium is about a new era of international investment norms in Africa. The discussion focuses on how to foster cooperation between African states and foreign investors in implementing sustainable development objectives and addressing global challenges. Several traditional investment treaties offer investors broad rights and protections that are backed by strong dispute settlement mechanisms. In the same vein, States have historically committed to non-reciprocal obligations in investment treaties that are seen as significantly limiting the policy space of states.
There is a feeling that the next decade will be a watershed period in terms of the economic relations between the EU and Africa. Both continents are experiencing sweeping developments that will invariably affect their respective existence and mutual relationships. In Africa, the largest preferential trade area, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), has recently been ratified while in Europe, the EU is navigating the challenges of Brexit. All this is taking place in the backdrop of negotiations between the two blocs to replace the Cotonou Agreement which has since 2000 served as the bedrock of economic relations between the EU and ACP states. How, then, will the Africa-EU relationship be impacted – if at all – by the implementation of AfCFTA?