The Kenya chapter of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Kenya) recently hosted the second International Conference on Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Nairobi.

The conference discussed emerging trends in ADR and arbitration in Africa. It also provided a learning and ideas exchange platform for policy makers, arbitration practitioners, enthusiasts, and private sector players.

According to ICC Kenya, the nascent industry is shaping for take-off, driven by the surge in international trade and investments in the region. This is on the back of increased business innovation, government spending on infrastructure projects, and the opening of new markets and industries. This has introduced new unprecedented legal and corporate challenges, leading to the uptake of ADR and aArbitration, in place of litigation.

“In addition to sensitizing the private sector on ADR, its opportunities and advantages, this year’s conference also sets the stage for Kenyan ADR and arbitration practitioners to engage directly with the International Court of Arbitration and progress towards their professionalization in international ADR practice”, said Aleem Visram Chairperson, ICC-Kenya, Commission on ADR and Arbitration.

In her key note address, Diamana Diawara, Director, Arbitration and ADR for Africa at ICC, said all aspects of the ICC dispute resolution system have been growing in Africa over the past 2 years. Arbitration and mediation cases have grown by 13 percent and 166 percent respectively, between 2020 and 2021.

“In 2020, African States represented 40% of African parties involved in ICC arbitrations. In 2021 the figure rose to 50 percent and since 2022 we have deployed a series of training to provide a robust legal platform for users while consolidating the ADR client base in the continent”, she said.

Other emerging issues discussed included independence and partiality of ADR practitioners, touching on issues of integrity and self-regulation as well as professionalization and development of the African ADR market to stem the flight of ADR cases generated from Africa, but being adjudicated in western capitals.

ICC Kenya, in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb Kenya), and the Nairobi Centre for International Arbitration (NCIA), intends to develop programs to sensitize the private sector on alternative dispute resolution.

The International Chamber of Commerce (The ICC) is the world’s largest business organization representing 45 million companies from all sectors and company sizes in over 130 countries. It is the only business organization with UN Observer Status. International Chamber of Commerce-Kenya (ICC Kenya) was launched in June 2017 and formally registered in August 2019 as the National Committee of The ICC in Kenya. ICC Kenya’s membership is made up of business associations and corporate organizations of all sizes from all sectors of the economy.

ICC Kenya works on policy advocacy on behalf of the Kenyan business community with international operations as well as linking members to the global business community thereby exposing them to an array of opportunities. It is currently hosted by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA).