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Wave of investment arbitration claims against African countries | 14 June 2023

Wave of investment arbitration claims against African countries

In the last week, four African countries have received investment arbitration claims before the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Cameroon, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tunisia have been sued by investors from Italy, the Republic of Korea, Australia, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

Three of the arbitrations, except for the one in Cameroon framed in the construction sector, are controversies related to the Oil, gas and mining sectors.

The arbitration against Cameroon has been presented on June 8 by the Italian company Gruppo Officine Piccini after being expelled from the works of the Olembé Sports Complex that it designed and began to build. The plaintiff is represented by the firm Withers (London).

The arbitration filed against Nigeria, also on June 8, is that of the oil companies Korea National Oil Corporation, KNOC Nigerian West Oil Company Limited, and KNOC Nigerian East Oil Company Limited for the award of oil prospecting licenses. The plaintiffs are represented by Allen & Overy London and Singapore.

Zenith Energy, based in Calgary, Canada, submitted its request for arbitration against Tunisia on June 5, 2023 in connection with some oil concessions in the North African country. The company claims 48 million US dollars. In a press release, Zenith denounces unreasonable and arbitrary and unjustified obstructions to process the sale of the oil produced. The applicant is represented by Gide Loyrette Nouel (Paris, France).

Australia’s AVZ International, Singapore’s Green Lithium and Congolese Dathcom Mining Holdings accuse the Democratic Republic of Congo of refusing to grant them a mining license for the Manono Project lithium deposit. In a statement informing of the filing of the arbitration, registered in ICSID on June 8, AVZ explains that it requests various reparations for the breach by the Democratic Republic of the Congo of its obligations under the Mining Code, in particular in the application of various measures that should have led to the issuance of an exploitation permit to Dathcom for the development of the Manono project. The firm DLA Piper (Paris, Madrid) represents the plaintiffs.