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The African Legal Support Facility

The African Legal Support Facility

ALSF was named Best Legal Department of the Year (Large Teams category) at the 2018 African Legal Awards in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Facility also received a special mention for its support to African governments in negotiating investment-related transactions that are critical to their economic development at the same event. The African Legal Assistance Facility (ALSF) provides legal support to African countries and contributes to technical and institutional capacity building for sovereign trade and contract negotiations to enable sustainable investment and development. ALSF interventions also facilitate national dialogue and consultation between and within government institutions and the private sector to develop coherent policies and legal frameworks for national development. ALSF began operations in The Gambia in 2013 with the signing of a $400,000 grant agreement to provide legal support for the negotiation of independent energy projects and the modernization of transmission and distribution in the Banjul metropolitan area. Since then, the ALSF has received more than 10 requests from The Gambia for the provision of advisory services in the extractive sector and capacity building in the sovereign debt and infrastructure sectors (energy projects and toll bridge project in The Gambia). In 2021, the ALSF approved 33 new projects valued at $6.8 million. These activities included: 17 consulting and process projects; and 16 capacity-building and knowledge management projects. During the same period, the ALSF provided more than $11 million for its interventions in the areas of raw materials and natural resources, energy, infrastructure, public-private partnerships and sovereign debt. ALSF also improved its operational efficiency, knowledge capacity and business processes to improve its services to its clients. Since its launch in 2010, the ALSF has provided legal support to more than 260 projects in 45 African countries worth approximately $112 million. The ALSF`s unique mandate is to provide practical and practical assistance in the negotiation of contractual agreements between governments and investors.

The ALSF provides governments with the knowledge and resources to ensure balanced, fair and equitable outcomes and ultimately improve good governance and environmental and social accountability. Promoting environmental sustainability to support inclusive development: The ALSF takes environmental and social concerns into account in its activities to support socially sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Africa. In particular, the Facility shall encourage the integration of environmental considerations into negotiated contracts, including best practices and other measures, in order to improve natural resource management and environmental protection. The interventions of the African Legal Support Facility have saved African countries about $4 billion over the past three years. Since 2018, she has trained more than 10,000 lawyers and government officials to negotiate complex commercial transactions. Creditor disputes: The ALSF provides African governments with legal assistance in negotiations with creditors and defense against disputes with creditors, particularly through vulture funds. Since 2003, African finance ministers have called for the establishment of an institution to provide legal assistance to African states, particularly heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC), to address the challenge of disputes with creditors (particularly vulture funds) and the negotiation of complex trade agreements. The ALSF was therefore established to provide legal and technical capacity to African countries. “I call them guardian angels. They guide you, they advise you, they support you… In 2021, the ALSF Board of Directors extended the ALSF`s term by 14 years, from 2023 to 2036. With the extension of its duration, the ALSF will focus on deepening the impact of its support and improving the capacity of African countries to address current and emerging issues such as Covid-19, climate change, illicit financial flows and digitalization, and to strengthen the resilience of African countries to future crises.

Abidjan, 23 September 2021 – African leaders on Wednesday commended the African Legal Support Facility for helping governments avoid billions of dollars in losses due to bad deals, and urged it to expand its support to the fight against illicit financial flows. Since its establishment in 2008, the African Legal Support Facility has provided African countries with expert legal advice and technical assistance to negotiate complex commercial transactions, including disputes with creditors. Over the years, the Facility has contributed to more than $75 billion in commercial investment transactions. The ALSF has many non-financial technical partners, such as international organizations, research and study centres, universities, legal institutions or actors in the fields of mining, transport, energy, water and natural resources. Capacity building: The ALSF builds the capacity of African lawyers and government officials to negotiate complex commercial transactions. In this context, the ALSF develops training programs and platforms, including legal hotlines. In 2017, the ALSF launched the ALSF Virtual Academy, a portal for continuing education: alsf.academy/ Promoting Gender Equality for Inclusive Growth: Gender equality and women`s empowerment are an integral part of the Sustainable Development Goals and are lived by the ALSF. The ALSF`s medium-term strategy (2018-2022) provides a binding framework for promoting gender equality at two levels. The Facility`s projects and interventions shall take gender aspects into account. In addition, UNFPA strives to achieve gender parity at all levels (management and support services). At the first high-level meeting of ALSF members on 26 February 2020, the Gambian Minister of Finance and Economy, Hon.

Mambury Njie noted that the ALSF`s involvement in Gambian projects came at the right time, particularly in the extractive sector (oil and gas), to negotiate and review the terms of the oil exploration license. More than 15 institutions participated in the project, including the Ministries of Petroleum and Energy; Finance and economics; the Attorney General`s Office and the Gambia Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. This collaboration, fostered by the project, facilitated the exchange of knowledge on petroleum sector issues between institutions and provided an important educational resource that benefited all relevant stakeholders. The ALSF`s participation in this project has enabled The Gambia to attract more than 16 internationally renowned oil companies to participate in tenders in the initial phase of the licensing and exploration cycle. Prior to the completion of the project, The Gambia had developed an internal capacity to develop and manage a competitive bidding process, conduct negotiations and effectively manage similar transactions in the future. The presence of the ALSF in the negotiations in The Gambia made a remarkable difference. – Mambury Njie, Minister of Finance and Economy, The Gambia The ALSF`s involvement in the management of The Gambia`s sovereign debt resulted in a comprehensive restructuring plan resulting from negotiations with creditors and the development of a media strategy that ensured transparency and provided a strong and positive narrative around the restructuring plan, and capacity building for public debt managers and selected members of the Department. With the support of the ALSF, The Gambia has restructured its creditors` claims with new debt plans and detailed credit-for-credit treatment of sovereign debt. In addition, staff were trained in the dynamics of debt restructuring and the government realized savings that were invested in the social and agricultural sectors. In the infrastructure sector, staff of the Gambian Ministry of Finance and Economy, in particular the Directorate of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) (a newly established department of the Ministry), benefited from enhanced capacity building and advisory services provided by the ALSF in the preparation and negotiation of PPP agreements and contract management for the Banjul Port Project. As the port facility is an important gateway for trade and the main source of revenue in The Gambia, the ALSF will continue to act as a transactional advisor to determine the optimal arrangement for port operations.

At the high-level meeting, Hon. Mambury Njie commended the work done and the timely support provided by the ALSF to The Gambia, stating that the ALSF provided advice in all respects, was responsive in terms of delivery and met the project deadlines. The provision of advisory services and capacity building support to The Gambia through such high-profile trade agreements and transactions is a testament to the positive impact of ALSF projects in their member countries. It also demonstrates that remedies can be used to successfully address social and economic challenges in developing countries. The two-day virtual conference, Smart Legal Capacity: A New Phase for the African Legal Support Facility, explored innovative ways to strengthen Africa`s legal and technical capacities, particularly in the areas of debt, commodities, energy and infrastructure. Strengthen the ALSF`s commitment to countries in transition: The ALSF supports African countries designated by the African Development Bank as countries in transition or fragile states and are therefore eligible for the assistance window of the African Development Fund through the Transitional Support Facility. These States are more vulnerable to creditor claims and more exposed to the risk of entering into unfair trade and investment agreements.

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