By Dipo Olowookere
The second Annual Workshop on International Economic Negotiations opened in Johannesburg on Monday under the theme, ‘Building Africa’s Negotiating Capacity for Improved Terms of Engagement with the Rest of the World.’
The event is part of activities led by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) to promote policies and programmes that strengthen the process of African economic integration, as explained by Stephen Karingi, Director of ECA’s Capacity Development Division (CDD):
“We are basically assisting Member States in the development of common positions towards international negotiations as well as in enhancing the skills of African negotiators to get optimal deals for their countries and region from bilateral and international negotiations.”
During the five-day gathering, policy makers and experts on investment, taxation, natural resource contract negotiations and trade negotiations from over 40 African countries will exchange experiences, explore options and strategies for possible coordination of positions, and interact with globally leading thinkers and practitioners in the field of economic negotiations.
African governments have consistently called upon continental institutions to provide capacity building assistance in the field of negotiation. Also, the March 2015 Report of the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows noted how Africa’s natural resources sector is prone to the generation of illicit financial outflows through secret and poorly negotiated contracts.
As part of its mandate on capacity development, ECA launched, in 2015, a series of annual workshops that respond to these calls by focusing on how member states can best protect their national interests from being undermined through international agreements.
Mr Melaku Desta, Head of ECA’s Natural Resources and Sustainable Development section, expressed optimism about the outcome of the workshop.
“We expect this workshop to provide participants with a better understanding of the dynamics in negotiation, increase the number of trained participants, and contribute to the improved negotiation skills of continental experts,” said Mr Desta.
The first annual Workshop on International Economic Negotiations took place in Dakar, Senegal on December 1 – 4, 2015.
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