The American Bar Association Section of International Law held its 2015 Spring Meeting from April 28 to May 2, 2015, in Washington, DC. In keeping with the theme of the meeting, “The Times They Are A-Changin’: The New Lyrics of International Law and Practice,” I served as the program chair and moderator of a panel on exciting new African transportation and infrastructure opportunities. The panel, “The Open Road: Transparency and Compliance in the New African Transportation Frontier,” brought together an official from the World Bank Integrity Vice Presidency, a former U.S. Department of Justice attorney, and a compliance expert from a major South African law firm.
Before a lively and interactive audience of compliance attorneys and practitioners from all over the world, including many practitioners from Africa, the panelists highlighted Africa’s tremendous transportation infrastructure opportunities. In a continent that is larger than the United States, China, India, Japan, and all of Europe combined, one panelist projected that overall infrastructure spending in sub-Saharan Africa will grow at 10 percent per year over the next decade, and will likely exceed $180 billion by 2025. The World Bank recently estimated that Africa needs approximately $93 billion per year in infrastructure spending; others have estimated much higher, even double this amount. One panelist projected that transportation investment in South Africa will reach nearly $9 billion by 2025 and that transport and logistics will account for 42 percent of infrastructure spending in South Africa over the next three years. He also explained that Nigerian infrastructure spending is expected to grow from $23 billion in 2013 to $77 billion in 2025. While one panellist projected that infrastructure investment will be substantially focused in Nigeria and South Africa, he noted that Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania are also poised for significant infrastructure growth.
The panelists detailed some of the challenges associated with these infrastructure projects, such as corruption. They also provided an overview of applicable regulatory and enforcement programs, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the role of the World Bank Integrity Vice Presidency in maintaining and enforcing compliance in World Bank financed programs. And they shared best practices for developing anti-corruption and anti-bribery compliance programs for clients and companies.
The ABA Section of International Law is the leader in the development of policy in the international arena, the promotion of the rule of law and the education of international law practitioners. The 2015 Spring Meeting was attended by over a thousand practitioners from all over the world and featured U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as a keynote speaker.