Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 15thJuly 2020: The African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) hosted the first of a series of four (4) webinars conducted exclusively in Portuguese. This series will address salient topics pertaining to natural resources, infrastructure, debt, and power from a Lusophone perspective. The initiative is designed to provide a platform for discussion of key issues to the benefit of a Lusophone audience, as well as identifying trends, challenges and opportunities for Lusophone Africa. The first webinar focused on the financing of infrastructure in the “new normal”. The ALSF invited expert panelists from a legal and economic background who provided varied perspectives.
The first Lusophone webinar was widely attended, with most participants joining in from Angola, Mozambique, Cabo Verde, Guinea Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe, Brazil and Portugal. Moderated by Ms. Rita Madeira, Legal Counsel at the ALSF, the webinar featured a panel of experts with experience in Lusophone Africa, Portugal and Brazil: Mr. Gonçalo Falcão, Partner at Mayer Brown LLP, Mr. Tomás Timbane, Partner at TTA - Sociedade de Advogados, Mr. Joel Muzima, Principal Country Economist at the African Development Bank (AfDB), and Mr. Tiago Dionísio, an Assistant Director at Eaglestone Advisory.
Ms. Rita Madeira commenced the discussions by setting the scene, followed by each speaker’s key views on the traditional financing models in Lusophone Africa, the macroeconomic impacts of the pandemic in the different Lusophone countries, the AfDB’s response to COVID-19, and contractual management of risks and responsibilities going forward. Each panelist brought to the debate insightful considerations that led to an interesting Q&A session, which addressed topics as diverse as a comparison between different financing models, the management and allocation of contractual risks, notably the currency risk enhanced by the current economic context, and the importance of having adequate legal representation for the negotiation of complex commercial contracts, especially as a preemptive measure with regard to the risk of litigation or arbitration, as well as to ensure balanced contracts and the protection of public interests.
The webinar provided a forum for a lively discussion in the Portuguese language and highlighted key considerations on challenges and opportunities for Lusophone African governments as they manage the impact of the pandemic and start to emerge from it in a “new normal”.
The second webinar of the series will take place on 15 September 2020 and will address important topics in the power sector.
Created by the African Development Bank in 2010, the ALSF supports governments in negotiating complex commercial transactions, providing legal and technical assistance in public-private partnership projects across the oil and gas, mining and energy sectors, and covering sovereign debt issues and creditor litigation.