Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo has called for the establishment and strengthening of more arbitration institutions in line with international standards.
This, according to him, will also ensure parties adhere to the awards that may be issued from such institutions.
Towards this end, he suggested that more institutions like the Lagos Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (LARCICA), known for international commercial arbitration in Africa should be established.
Speaking at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Africa Arbitration Conference held virtually on Thursday, he called for effective re-orientation of all stakeholders, especially investors and professionals on the need to make arbitration a preferred option for dispute resolution.
Adebayo stressed the need to encourage professionals from different fields to enroll for training and certifications in arbitration to broaden its scope.
This, he said, would give parties some sort of comfort when reaching a resolution because the process is handled by professionals with broad experience and exposure.
Besides, it would also help in reducing the rising cost in terms of fees of arbitrators.
“These steps will broaden the scope of Alternative Dispute Resolution, especially in arbitration and also boost investors’ confidence in doing business with parties from the region.
“It will facilitate Cross-Border Investments, especially with the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement providing wider market access to 1.2 billion people,”he said.
With regards to the current scope of arbitration in most African countries including Nigeria, he noted there are gaps in the implementation process while adopting arbitration in the African business sphere.
These gaps include lack of awareness, difficulty in enforcing awards, rising cost and misconception that arbitration is exclusive to lawyers.
He explained that these gaps have made arbitration quite unpopular in the African region and have given rise to the dire need to expand its coverage.
“Moreover, this gap has affected the inflow of capital and also made entrepreneurs agree to unfair arbitration clauses and accept institutions in countries where settlements may be unfair to either party.
“However, with the region currently being an attractive investment destination, we need to work together with strategic institutions to close these existing gaps and ensure that arbitration is the dispute settlement mechanism of choice in Africa, especially in Nigeria,” he added.