To assist the government of São Tomé & Príncipe, a lower middle income island with a fragile economy, the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) organized a training to raise awareness and enhance capacity of Santomean lawyers in matters pertaining to sovereign debt and creditor litigation.
Th 14-18 May training, including a range of technical issues such as debt issuance and the preparation of the relevant documents; sovereign debt crisis and restructuring; and creditor litigation, was held at the premises of the Bar Association in São Tomé. Alvaro João Santiago, African Development Bank’s Alternate Executive Director for Nigeria and São Tomé & Príncipe attended the opening ceremony, which was widely covered by Santomean media. In her opening remarks, Célia Posser, President of the Bar Association, highlighted the relevance of the topic, thanked ALSF for facilitating the training and urged the participants to take the opportunity to learn and discuss technical issues among peers.
In line with its mandate, the Facility’s Legal Counsel, Rita Madeira underscored the importance of sovereign debt as a primary area of focus of the ALSF, an institution that was initially set up to help Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) address a growing problem of vulture funds. As the risks of high levels of sovereign debt recast their shadow over the continent, raising awareness and enhancing technical expertise to identify and deal with those risks is absolutely paramount.
The workshop was designed to strengthen São Tomé & Príncipe’s technical and legal expertise to identify and deal with sovereign debt related issues in view of enhancing legal capacity to prepare, negotiate and effectively implement legal documents to accelerate the country’s economic development.
The training was interactive and enriching with participants given an opportunity to share experiences, discuss debt issues, debate case studies, and identify red herrings related to sovereign debt, as well as the usefulness and benefits of debt issuance, which if properly managed can contribute to economic growth and development.
This was the first of a set of two trainings organized for the benefit of thirty practicing lawyers in São Tomé & Príncipe. The second workshop, to be held 18- 22 June, will focus on oil and gas related legal issues.