One of the most significant developments of the summer was the launch of the African Arbitration Association (AfAA), held at the headquarters of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Côte d’Ivoire in June. The AfAA aims to “promote, encourage, facilitate and advance” the use of international arbitration within Africa. The association has brought together an impressive number of African arbitral institutions, 71 in total, and will be headquartered in Rwanda at the Kigali International Arbitration Centre (KIAC). During the BoD Meeting held on 30 June 2018, it was agreed that Dr. Rukia Baruti, Managing Director of Africa International Legal Awareness (AILA), would be the Secretary-General of the Association. Dr. Ismail Selim is a founding member of the African Arbitration Association (AfAA) Board of Directors and the sole representative of North Africa in the Board presided by Chief Bayo Ojo SAN, Senior Partner, Bayo Ojo & Co. and Director of the International Centre for Arbitration and Mediation in Abuja. Dr. Selim believes the AfAA shall be a “sort of an African ICCA”; as it shall benefit from all former experiences, thus shaping a new and improved international arbitration institution (Ross, Alison. African Arbitration Association launched. GAR: 11 July 2018 ).
The launch of AfAA was the culmination of a process that began with calls for a body to promote the use of African practitioners, arbitrators and arbitral institutions at many pan-African gatherings the most important of which were the ICCA consultative workshop on cooperation among African arbitration associations, which held meetings in Mauritius, Cairo, Abuja and Kigali. It is notable that CRCICA hosted the second Consultative Workshop in this important series in April 2017.
Commenting on the launch of the AfAA, Fidèle Masengo, secretary general of the KIAC, stated that the “AfAA intends to encourage the regionalisation of arbitration, by promoting the appointment of African practitioners, arbitrators and institutions” (The establishment of three new organisations points to further growth in African arbitration. Hogan Lovells: 23 November 2018). The creation of the AfAA may be seen as an important step in what many have termed as the “Africanisation” of arbitration. The organisation has been described as the “coming of age of the arbitration profession in Africa” by Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, President of the ICJ, a Somalian and prominent African arbitrator.
On 29 June 2018, the AfAA Launch Event: “Arbitration in Africa Conference” was held, and CRCICA was represented by Mr. George Ghali, Case Manager and Legal Researcher. During the Launch event, panelists’ speeches focused on the utility of the newly established AfAA in light of the diversity of African arbitral institutions and promoting the appointment of African arbitrators by African attorneys in disputes involving African parties. Panelists agreed on the crucial importance of the AfAA which shall act as a “pool of experience and resources”, helping the fast growth and expansion of the international arbitration community in Africa.