Conference: Asia and Africa in Transition

Panel: Sustainability strategy and Asian investments in energy in Africa – Regulatory governance and dispute resolution

Conveners: Wen Xiang, Law Faculty, University of Copenhagen and Olubayo Oluduro, Faculty of Law, Adekunle Ajasin University, Nigeria

Despite Africa’s rich energy resources, energy poverty is still extant with close to 600 million people lacking access to electricity. This constrains many countries in meeting their energy access goals, sets back industrial development, and reduces the continent’s economic growth significantly. On a positive note, energy access has improved in recent years and Africa is at the forefront of distributed energy systems that increase energy access faster, at a lower price, and geographically more widely than conventional grids. These developments are driven by new business models and decreasing technology costs - also for renewables that are on the rise in large tracts across Africa.

At the same time, extractive industries in the energy sector have continued to dominate especially Chinese investment in Africa. Indeed, thirty percent of China’s oil needs presently are from Africa as opposed to the fifteen percent of Africa’s supply for the U.S.; and approximately seventy percent of exports from Africa to China consist of crude oil. Nigeria and Angola are two major countries in this regard, while China is actively seeking partnership with Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, and Gabon for new fields.

While investments in the energy sector has the advantage of growing the economy of African nations and improving the livelihood of their citizens, such investments also carry with them a lot of challenges (social, economic, human rights, health, etc). Unregulated exploratory activities have contributed significantly to the deprivation of the inhabitants, human rights abuses, loss of biodiversity and disruption of the ecosystem.

Since the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, and the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, it became clear that sustainable development and better governance of energy programs and projects is the direction to follow to meet these challenges, as they emphasize that the supply of energy should be more ecologically compatible.

The panel will discuss:

  • The development and influence of Asian investments in the energy sector in African countries and the coupling with Asian development programs, e.g. China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
  • The regulatory framework and dispute resolution for energy investments in Africa
  • Sustainability challenges in relation to Asia’s energy investments in Africa: The handling of economic, social and ecological impacts, and the impact on health, human rights and environment

Tentative panel programme 29 June

(subject to changes)

Session 1:  9:00-11:00 (Copenhagen time/CEST)
Chair: TBC

Presenter Title

Keynote address by 

Makane Moïse Mbengue, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Geneva, Switzerland

The Quest for Sustainability within Africa's Investment Regulatory Frameworks

Xiaolian Quan, Associate Professor, School of International Law, Southwest University of Political Science and Law, China

Promotion and Legal Protection of the Foreign Investment: Based on the Chinese Lithium Investment in Democratic Republic of the Congo (​DRC)

Olayinka Ojo, Assistant Professor School of Law, Jindal Global University (JGU), India

Asian Investments in Energy in Africa - Judiciary's Role in Ensuring Due Compliance with Sustainable Strategies and Regulations

Wei Yin, Associate Professor, School of International Law, Southwest University of Political Science and Law, China

Soft Regulation and Hard Law on BRI Linked Projects: How to Promote the Sustainable Investment in Africa?

Session 2: 13:15-15:15 (Copenhagen time/CEST)
Chair: TBC

Presenter Title

Keynote address by 

Won Kidane, Associate Professor, School of Law, Seattle University, USA

Contemporary Trends in China-Africa Economic Relations

Simon-Peter Ayooluwa St.Emmanuel, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Adekunle Ajasin University, AkungbaAkoko, Nigeria

Responsibility to Protect, Sustainability Challenges and Environmental Degradation in Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Energy Sector: The Case for China’s Soft Power Diplomacy Intervention to Protect Environmental Rights

Yong Liang, Associate Professor, Fudan University School of Law

The Security Exception Clause under the Impacts of Non-traditional Security: Changes, Justifications and Countermeasures

Salvatore Mancuso, Professor, University of Palermo, Italy

The Chinese Approach to Dispute Resolution under the BRI

Ying Zhu, Assistant Professor, Renmin University of China, School of Law, China

How Green are Chinese Investment Treaties?

Session 3: 15:30-17:30 (Copenhagen time/CEST)
Chair: Salvatore Mancuso

Presenter Title

Keynote address by

Uché Ewelukwa, Professor, School of Law, University of Arkansas, USA

China-Africa Trade and Investment Relations and Sustainable Development: Problems, Promise, Progress, and Possibilities

Joanna Lam, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Special Economic Zones in China and Africa

Fenghua Li, Associate Professor, School of Law, University of International Business and Economics (UIBE), China

Green Finance as a Mechanism to Direct the BRI towards Sustainability


Wen Xiang, Associate Professor, Center of Excellence for International Courts (iCourts), Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Olubayo Oluduro, Professor, Faculty of Law, Adekunle Ajasin University, AkungbaAkoko, Nigeria

Role of China’s New Energy Law and policy in African Energy Transition

Wrap up