Rwanda Promotes the Use of Arbitration

From the 25th to 27th of May 2014 the Kigali International Arbitration Centre (KIAC) held its second arbitration conference in Kigali, Rwanda.

The event brought together 150 arbitration professionals from 18 countries around the world to discuss emerging issues in international arbitration and what a new arbitral seat like KIAC can anticipate.

Participants explored, among other things, issues around emergency arbitration, guerrilla tactics in international arbitration, influence of legal systems, and awarding of damages in construction disputes. The conference also provided an opportunity for participants to create partnerships with fellow practitioners worldwide as a way to foster integration and inclusion for new entrants in international arbitration.

Funded by the Investment Facility for Africa (ICF) and organised in partnership with the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF), the conference is part of KIAC's journey towards becoming a regional choice for commercial dispute resolution.

KIAC has been in operation for only two years, but already it is making strides in instituting the use of arbitration in Rwanda and the East Africa region as an alternate means of resolving commercial disputes. It has created arbitration rules that are aligned to international standards of arbitration and has been accrediting local professionals. To date, over 300 professionals from different fields have attended arbitration and mediation courses, leading to various levels of accreditation. Judges from the Rwandan Judiciary have also received the same training in an effort to ensure that all legal professionals have a common understanding of the concept and practice of arbitration.

Speaking at the opening of the conference, the Chief Justice of Rwanda, Prof. Sam Rugege, highlighted the importance of arbitration in Rwanda. "It is the vision of the Rwandan Judiciary to ensure that disputes are resolved amicably without going to courts, using arbitration or other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms like mediation. The objective is to ensure that the backlog of cases in courts is reduced," he said. Another objective, he pointed out, is to provide the speed of dispute resolution that international and local investors need in order to flourish.

Addressing conference participants, the Secretary General of KIAC, Bernadette Uwicyeza, said: "The conference is part of KIAC's continuous efforts to institutionalize knowledge sharing, exchange experiences and build partnership and cooperation in international arbitration with the aim of improving the profession in Rwanda as well as other African countries."

Speaking about the event, ICF CEO, William Asiko, said: "ICF would like to congratulate the Kigali International Arbitration Centre (KIAC) for its achievements in a relatively short period of time. KIAC has the potential to become a regional centre for arbitration. Awareness and knowledge sharing campaigns, like the just ended International Arbitration Conference, will help change the mind-sets and perception of the private sector in Rwanda and the rest of the region on the use of arbitration to resolve commercial disputes."

About the Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF)

The Investment Climate Facility for Africa is a donor funded, private sector focused development institution that works with businesses and African governments to create a conducive legal, regulatory and administrative environment for businesses, both big and small, to invest and grow. ICF believes that an improved investment climate is critical for job creation, income growth and poverty reduction across the continent. Apart from commercial justice, ICF also provides support in the areas of property rights and contract enforcement, business registration and licensing, strengthening financial markets, infrastructure facilitation, customs and tax. ICF is supported by development partners and the private sector. For more information, please visit www.icfafrica.org

Media contact:

Eunice Urio

Communication Manager

Investment Climate Facility for Africa

Tel: 255 22 212 9211

Email: eurio@icfafrica.org

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