ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast: African leaders on Wednesday lauded the African Legal Support Facility (https://bit.ly/2W7g0aF) for helping governments avert billions of dollars in losses from business deals, and urged it to extend support to tackling illicit financial flows.

At a high-level conference to review the Facility’s achievements over the last decade, speakers, including experts and business leaders, expressed confidence that the African Legal Support Facility was well-placed to advance Africa’s asset recovery and repatriation.

“The African Legal Support Facility has already established its place as what might be called a front-line fighter to secure for Africa its resources,” said Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa and current chair of the African Union’s high-level panel on illicit financial flows from Africa.

“The Facility must assist African countries to negotiate fair and balanced contracts to eliminate opportunities for illicit receipt, use, or transfer of funds,” Mbeki said.

The two-day virtual conference, titled Smart Legal Capacity: A New Phase for the African Legal Support Facility, explored innovative ways to bolster African legal and technical capacity, particularly in the debt, extractives, energy, and infrastructure sectors.

The event also included panel discussions showcasing the Facility’s achievements over the last 13 years and the renewal of its mandate for another 14 years. Panelists included government specialists in law, finance, energy, mining and debt management from Zimbabwe, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Niger and the Gambia.

In a keynote message, African Development Bank Group President Akinwumi A. Adesina noted that the launch of the Facility had been timely. “The bleeding of Africa’s natural resources, weak regulations and limited capacity for review and negotiations have shortchanged many African countries, especially low-income countries, including transition and fragile states,” Adesina said.

Christopher Chalmers, Chairperson of the Facility’s Governing Council and the African Development Bank’s Executive Director for Italy, Netherlands and the United Kingdom, also spoke, as did Bank Vice President for Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery Khaled Sherif.

In his opening remarks, Stephen Karangizi, Director and CEO of the African Legal Support Facility, expressed his appreciation to Bank President Adesina for his “excellent leadership of the Bank and his vital support for the African Legal Support Facility” since he assumed office. He also thanked the Facility’s other financing partners for their continuous support which is a strong vote of confidence in the Facility’s mandate.

Since its establishment in 2008, the African Legal Support Facility has provided expert legal advice and technical assistance to African countries in negotiating complex commercial transactions, including creditor litigation. Over the years, the Facility has helped conclude commercial investment deals worth over $75 billion.

Interventions by the African Legal Support Facility have saved African countries an estimated $4 billion in the last three years. Since 2018, it has trained more than 10,000 legal professionals and government officials in negotiating complex commercial transactions.


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