Echoes from the field

African Legal Support Facility trains WAEMU members in oil exploration and opportunities

In response to a request from the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) Commission, the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) organized two workshops in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on best practices for managing oil and mining exploration and exploitation contracts.

The ALSF is an international institution hosted by the African Development Bank.

The discovery of large-scale petroleum and mineral deposits has a tendency to fuel national visions of economic prosperity and development.

However, these dreams are often subject to a rude awakening, namely the financial and commercial challenges associated with transforming underground assets into financially successful extractive projects.

The first workshop was organized from December 12-15, 2017 on “Negotiation and Management of Exploration and Petroleum Exploration Contracts.” The second workshop, which was held from December 18-22, focused on the development of mining projects with structuring investments.

It is commonly accepted that the challenges associated with exploiting newly-discovered oil and mineral endowments are most closely related to technical and engineering questions. However, the ALSF’s recent experience in the Bank’s Regional Member States (RMCs) indicates that negotiating skills and a strong understanding of international financing are often the missing elements which delay, or even derail, the development of such resources.

In keeping with its mandate to develop sustainable legal capacity in the African region, the ALSF’s workshop aimed to promote the effective structuring of mining investments, as well as the optimum negotiation and management of oil contracts. The two events hosted 54 participants from, including as ministerial representatives from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.