By Innocent Anaba
PORT HARCOURT—Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who is a member of the Body of Benchers and the chief host of the just-concluded African Bar Association, AFBA, annual conference in Port Harcourt, the state capital, has said he believes Africa is on the right path in terms of attracting world trade and investments.
Governor Wike noted that despite being weakened by the global recession, Africa’s positive economic outlook as one of the world’s most attractive frontiers for trade and investments had been affirmed.
He said: “The great task before African leaders is to provide the enabling fiscal and regulatory environment for the private sector to create jobs and provide economic prosperity and security for the people.
“Although the efforts being made in this direction by some African nations are quite encouraging, all is still not well with Africa’s business environment, which is regarded as one of the most problematic in the world.”
Kikwete, Tambuwal on Africa’s potentials
The five-day conference featured lawyers from across the African continent, who gathered in Port Harcourt for the 2017 annual conference of AFBA.
The keynote speaker, immediate past President of Tanzania, Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, said Africa must do more to harness its opportunities and change the negative narratives.
According to him, “Africa presents a huge workforce and market,” which, he said, makes its growth potential huge.
Attorney-General of Sierra Leone, Joseph Kamara, agreed with Kikwete. Africa, he said, has a lot to do in addressing leadership issues.
“We have failed to address issues of leadership,” he said, adding that “the continent must get its leadership decisions right to make progress.”
Also speaking at the conference, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State said Africa’s challenges were surmountable with the right leadership.
He said with members from different countries, AFBA could provide the impetus for harnessing Africa’s huge development opportunities.
On his part, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, said Africa’s economy cannot thrive without a virile and independent judiciary.
Onnoghen, who was represented by Justice Esor Teetito of the Rivers State High Court, urged judges to be proactive in enforcing arbitration clauses in commercial agreements.
AFBA President lists Africa’s challenges
AFBA President, Hannibal Uwaifo, decried factors which he said brought the continent to a sorry state, such as weak institutions, rampant corruption, impunity, redtapism, uncoordinated immigration and custom rules.
He said there were very many self-inflicted blockades that hamper free movement of human and material resources.
The conference featured several breakout sessions. Among issues discussed were good governance, human rights, law firm management, sports and entertainment law, land law, telecoms/intellectual property, privacy/data protection law, African integration and trade, maritime law, labour law, and dispute resolution.
There was also African business roundtable, women lawyers’ forum, young lawyers’ forum, a session on project/infrastructure financing, smart practice workshop for young lawyers, and a Rule of Law symposium, among others.
How to end abuse of consumer rights was the subject of one of the sessions. Speakers said it takes political will to enforce consumer rights.