Africa has recorded appreciable progress in the area of arbitration, as the number of African Arbitrators around the world continues to grow, according to Dorothy Ufot SAN. Ufot stated this in her opening remarks at the 6th ICC Africa Conference on International Arbitration, held in Lagos from 1st to 3rd June, 2022.
The Conference themed, “African Arbitration: Consolidation and Transformation”, explored latest institutional developments and the evolution of arbitration in Africa.
Ufot, who is the Chairperson of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Nigerian Commission on Arbitration and ADR, described as highly commendable the growing number of African Arbitrators around the world contrary to what obtained over the past decades.
“For decades, women and ethnic minorities have faced discrimination and disadvantage in arbitrator appointments, on the narrative that there is a dearth of qualified Arbitrators in Africa. I am happy to state that, the narrative certainly does not hold water today, as even this hall is filled with highly qualified Arbitrators of African descent”, Ufot said on Thursday.
“Africans are today clamouring for African Arbitrators to be invited or nominated to sit at the arbitration table with their peers around the world, not just for African disputes, but disputes involving nationals of other countries”, she said.
She harped on the inevitability of disputes, wherever business or investment occurs, adding, however, that these disputes have characteristically been resolved in seats around the world such as London, Paris, New York, and so on.
“There is no doubt that progress has been made in the last few years, which has seen African Arbitrators sitting in high profile international arbitration alongside their peers around the world, in cases involving the ICC and others. This, therefore, informs the theme of this year’s conference”, she said. She further reiterated that Africa has witnessed transformation in the arbitration ecosystem, saying the 2022 Conference aimed at deepening the gains made since the Conference began in 2016. Part of the progress made, she said, was the emergence of Claudia Salomon as the first female President of the ICC Court of Arbitration.