Key findings: Sub-Saharan Africa’s abundant natural resources could significantly boost the region’s economic growth and development, and large-scale projects carried out by potential investors, if strategically managed, are a potential source of income. Yet, many country governments lack robust regulatory frameworks, specialised knowledge and technical expertise, and necessary resources to navigate complex contract negotiations in a way that maximises the benefits for the country and affected communities.
A range of legal and technical support programmes exist in sub-Saharan Africa, although these tend to vary as much as the contexts in which they are carried out. Support to African governments includes assisting in creating the investment environment and providing support during the pre-negotiation phases (e.g. research, policy formulation, legislative and regulatory reform, bid preparation, and evaluation of proposals) and the contract negotiation phase. Capacity building can be provided during all of these stages, though this tends to take the form of short-term training courses rather than sustained involvement. Limited support is available during the contract implementation or monitoring stage.
However, the available assistance is, in reality, limited and very few programmes provide assistance during actual negotiations. Where this is available, funding often limits its scope. Donors may also limit work at the negotiation phase for political reasons, in order to be seen as neutral. Legal support is the most common type of support provided. Financial/ economic analysis is available, but less common, whilst sector-specific and technical expertise is the most lacking. Quite a few programmes provide short-term training courses on issues related to long-term investment contracts. Overall, support – even from larger initiatives, such as the multi-donor trust funds – is often constrained due to limited availability of funding.