Canada: Arbitration In Africa

A review of recent regional initiatives
Last Updated: September 19 2019
Article by Malcolm Hartwell


Traditionally, Africa's civil and common law jurisdictions have relied on court litigation to resolve disputes. However, arbitration has gained a real foothold in Africa, and in the last few years there has been continued growth in the acceptance of arbitration as a viable option for settling disputes, not only between private parties but also disputes involving States. A number of regional initiatives, discussed below, have given impetus to this growth.

Recent regional initiatives

The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) has now been ratified by 22 of the 49 signatories and accordingly came into effect in April 2019. The AfCFTA seeks, amongst other things, to create the world's largest free trade area covering the entire African continent. The AfCFTA includes dispute settlement mechanisms for any disputes that arise between member States. It provides that a dispute settlement body will hold consultations between the parties and, if consultations fail, a dispute settlement panel will be set up to hear the dispute and issue a binding decision. That decision is subject only to an appeal to the AfCFTA disputes settlement appeal body whose decision is final. No rules are yet in place regarding the process to be followed, but it is anticipated that it will include both mediation and arbitration phases.

Many African countries are parties to bilateral investment treaties (BITs), most of which provide for arbitration to resolve investment disputes between foreign investors and host States. In addition, 49 of the 54 African States are contracted to or signatories of the International Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID Convention) which provides for conciliation and arbitration procedures.

According to ICSID's recent caseload statistics focussed on Africa, as of May 31, 2017 approximately 22 per cent of cases registered under the ICSID Convention and Additional Facility Rules involved an African State party, of which 21 per cent were Intra-Africa disputes (i.e. also involving African investors). However, of all ICSID cases, only 5 per cent involved African investors.

In addition to BITs, a significant proportion of ICSID cases involving African State parties or investors were based on investment contracts between foreign investor and host-state, or investments law of a host-state.

Turning to commercial arbitration, in the last five years alone, an additional seven African States have acceded to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention) which reflects the growing importance that African States attach to upholding international commercial arbitration agreements and the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. This leaves 17 African countries that are not signatories to the New York Convention, including the active economies of Ethiopia, Namibia, and the Seychelles.

The Mauritian International Arbitration Centre, launched in late July 2018, competes with a number of other regional international arbitration centres, including the Lagos Court of Arbitration, the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration and the Common Court of Justice and Arbitration in the Ivory Coast. These initiatives are driven in part by the Organisation for the Harmonisation of Business Law in Africa which adopted a uniform law on arbitration applicable to its 17 member States. Statistics are not currently published by these centres, but, anecdotally, they seem to be attracting more disputes.

The Arbitration Foundation of South Africa established in 1996 is the leading facilitator of ADR in South Africa with branches in most major centres. AFSA has a number of specialist divisions including one for cross border disputes and for domain name disputes. They have also established, in conjunction with the Shanghai International Arbitration Centre, a China Africa Joint Arbitration Centre (CAJAC) in Johannesburg and in Shanghai to provide arbitration services to China/ Africa disputants.

The Maritime Law Association of South Africa is in the final stages of establishing a maritime law arbitration centre which is anticipated to be modelled on the London Maritime Arbitration Association (LMAA). It will initially seek to attract domestic maritime disputes, but it ultimately intends to target disputes that occur in South Africa's massive commodity export and transport sectors.

South Africa's International Arbitration Act which incorporates most of the UNCITRAL Model Law came into force on December 20, 2017. A South African court of first instance has already refused an application to join a foreign party to South African court proceedings on the basis that the parties had agreed to refer disputes to arbitration in London (Atakas Ticaret Ve Nakliyat AS v Glencore International AG and Others KZD 20-04-2018 case no A42/2014). It is anticipated that this decision will be confirmed on appeal.

Previous issues

About Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP

Norton Rose Fulbright is a global law firm. We provide the world's preeminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service. We have 3800 lawyers and other legal staff based in more than 50 cities across Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Recognized for our industry focus, we are strong across all the key industry sectors: financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and life sciences and healthcare.

Wherever we are, we operate in accordance with our global business principles of quality, unity and integrity. We aim to provide the highest possible standard of legal service in each of our offices and to maintain that level of quality at every point of contact.

For more information about Norton Rose Fulbright, see

Law around the world

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions