On 11 and 12 November, Chamber Trade Sweden and the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (AACCSA) organised a conference on Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) with more than 300 chamber delegates, legal professionals and public sector officials attended the conference.
ADR is developing in Ethiopia, where business and government is starting to see the potential for making use of mediation and arbitration for solving commercial disoutes. The Addis Chamber believes it can build on this and both Mr Elias Geneti and Getachew Regassa, President and General Secretary of Addis Chamber respectively, spoke of their wish to see Addis also becoming the ADR-hub for surrounding countries.
The Ethiopian government played an important role at the conference announcing their commitment to the use of commercial mediation and arbitration to grow sustainable business in Ethiopia and on the continent.
Minister Birhanu Tsegaye, Minister of legal and administrative Affairs, outlined the need for alternate dispute resolution for commercial disputes in the country and raised the important discussion of ratifying the New York Convention on Arbitration.
The Swedish ambassador to Ethiopia, Mr Jan Sadek, underlined the key role that the private sector has in countries like Ethiopia to reducing poverty and uplifting the poor to a more inclusive economy and made the tie to ADR as contributing to this.
“Alternate Dispute Resolution and arbitration is known to significantly benefit the ease of doing business. Countries which can show that they have robust access to justice and ADR regimes which are of global standard will be in an excellent position to attract foreign direct investment. This is even more important for Africa which is still showing positive growth and can capitalize on companies looking to invest,” stated Ambassador Sadek.
Ulf Franke, independent arbitrator and chairman of the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce shared his thoughts on how to build ADR in Africa. Dr. Patricia Shaughnessy, supervisor of the Master of International Commercial Law Program at Stockholm University was also on hand to share her thoughts on building ADR capacity in Africa where building skills involving the education of arbitrators and mediators is key.
Bronwen Kausch, head of the Cape Chamber ADR centre and ADR experts from Peace Systems, advocates Willie Pienaar and Hendrik Kotze, added to the debate and supported the idea for building ADR capacity in African Chambers, drawing on their experience of setting up the ADR centre within the Cape Chamber of Commerce in Cape Town.
Charlotte Kalin, head of Chamber Trade Sweden, was very pleased with the conference. “We now need to build on the momentum ensuring that both the Ethiopian government and the private sector take the steps needed to strengthen ADR capacity for the country. AACCSA and the local chambers play an important role here,” says Charlotte.
Chamber Trade also intends to move forward taking institutional building for ADR to more chambers of commerce in Africa.
These plans were supported by the Swedish Ambassador, who concluded his speech by saying: “The co-operation seen at this conference is a good message for international countries to take back to their trade ministries. This message is Africa’s development is being driven by strong, private sector-led growth. By institutionalizing ADR Africa will show it is truly open for business.”
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