Public sector lawyers involved in drafting of the extractives sector laws and policies in the region will next week undergo training to improve their negotiation and policy-making skills.

The training is aimed at assisting East African Community (EAC) countries to make extractive industry contracts and related policy to ensure they achieve tangible benefits from their natural resources, the East African Development Bank (EADB), which is hosting the training said in statement yesterday.

The training, that takes place from March 9-14 in Kigali, targets senior government lawyers involved in policy formulation and negotiations and law dons from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.

“The training is designed to build the capacity of public sector lawyers involved in negotiating transactions and drafting agreements for extractive and other industries,” it added.

The bank said the training will help reduce the risk of costly or politically-difficult dispute resolution, going forward.

Vivienne Yeda, the EADB director general, observed that the last decade had seen the discovery of minerals such as coal, gas, oil, titanium, among others, in East Africa, noting that the region had entered a period of ‘economic tipping point.’

She noted that this calls for laws and policies that will safeguard revenues from extractive industry.

“The fundamental question we must ask, going by the experiences of other resource-rich regions in Africa, is whether the region will benefit from these resources,”said Yeda

“Can East Africa ensure the newfound resources are converted into tangible wealth for its people, current and future generations?”

In the past few years, oil and gas discoveries have been made in Uganda, Kenya Tanzania.

Rwanda is also exploring for oil and gas, but has various firms involved in mining of various minerals like wolfram and cassetirite in different parts of the country.

The training should be a big boost to the region, especially as some countries grapple to make extractive sector laws that ensure equitable distribution of resources from the sector.

Also, the need for policies that promote sustainable development of the natural resources to safeguard the environment is important, according to industry experts.

The seven-day training will be conducted jointly with global law firm, DLA Piper and its affiliate, New Perimeter, which provides free legal assistance.

DLA Piper partner, Jay Finkelstein, said the training would focus on analysing and negotiating the types of complex transactions, including project finance, extractive industry agreements and public-private partnerships.

Source : abdas.org