Trade and investment lead to economic development and prosperity. There is also an inevitable path to disputes. There are pitfalls associated with the court system in most countries, including adjournments and delays. There is also an increasing sophistication of parties who seek neutrality and party autonomy in disputes.
International arbitration has gained momentum as the preferred mode of dispute resolution in East Africa. In international commercial arbitration, an increasing number of international contractual disputes are resolved in arbitration under the auspices of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the London court of International Arbitration (LCIA) and Ad hoc arbitration under the UNITRAL Rules. In investment arbitration, all the East African Community (EAC) countries are members of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda are members to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). East Africa is already seeing an impact in investment arbitration, with Burundi having had 4 cases lodged against it at ICSID, Kenya with 3, Rwanda with 1, Tanzania with 5 and Uganda with 3. (2016)
With the growth of international arbitration in investment and contractual dispute resolution in East Africa, the question then is how ready are regional arbitrators, practitioners and arbitration centres to take on the challenge? East Africa has developed international arbitration centres in Mauritius (LCIA- MIAC), Rwanda (KIAC) and Kenya (NCIA). There is a growing clamour for inclusion of African practitioners in international arbitration and in having administration and seats of arbitration in Africa. Is the region ready to competitively participate in international arbitration?
It is in our efforts to prepare East Africa to competitively participate in International Arbitration that East Africa International Arbitration Conference was launched seven years ago.
EAIAC’s primary focus was to promote the development of international arbitration practice in our region, bringing together private sector, investment community, regional and international arbitrators, legal practitioners to share best practice, network and forge business relations. And in seven years we have brought the Gospel of Arbitration to Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Dar -es Salaam, Kampala, Kigali. We are humbled to be recognised in the region by key stakeholder legal institutions as a credible platform for practitioners in East Africa.