Media Release: Assessing the Rule of Law in Africa

11 February 2022 17:00

LexisNexis and Africa Legal are proud to announce the launch of a ground-breaking new report which shines a light on the trends, barriers and aspirations for the rule of law across Africa.

The report was developed with input from respondents domiciled in 24 separate African jurisdictions via a survey which sourced views from in-house counsel, private practice lawyers, judiciary and government.

This fascinating report unearths where in Africa lawyers are most hopeful for the strengthening of the rule of law, what the greatest hurdles are to this, and who they believe has the greatest role to play in driving forward a rule of law agenda.

Thanks to the survey data and qualitative input, readers of the report can, for the first time, compare and contrast attitudes towards the rule of law from different demographics – split by location, career stage and job role.

The research additionally considers what role Covid-19 has played in hindering the rule of law in African markets and how it has affected access to justice for populations already struggling to engage with sometimes outdated judicial infrastructures.

The starkness of Africa’s relationship with the rule of law is perhaps best encapsulated by the research finding that only 6% of respondents believed that the provision of justice was equal in their home jurisdiction. As is often the case, however, hope springs eternal, with 40% of respondents believing that the rule of law would strengthen in their home markets across the next five years.

Commenting on the launch of the report, LexisNexis South Africa CEO and Chairperson of the Board, Videsha Proothveerajh, said, “Africa as a continent provides very fertile ground for innovation, which we believe can be better unlocked if governments and the private sector continue to partner on initiatives to strengthen the rule of law. From a global business perspective, the rule of law provides a legal foundation for conducting business in a reliable and predictable manner, and holds people, businesses and government accountable for their actions.

“However,” she continued, “advancing the rule of law in Africa is complex and not uniform across all jurisdictions. This is why we’re proud to have partnered with Africa Legal to release the Africa Rule of Law Report, which provides an understanding of what the rule of law means in practice and its current level of development, as well as some of the challenges that must be addressed in order to promote inclusive development, reduce inequalities, tackle unemployment and bridge gaps in our justice systems.

“Pro-actively enabling and upholding the rule of law on the continent will enable African countries to become more competitive and attract more foreign direct investment, thus enabling the continent to take its rightful place on the global stage,” she added. “As a large, multinational company, LexisNexis believes that businesses in Africa do have the power and opportunity to innovate, disrupt and leap-frog themselves and the continent into prosperity, if they have the staying power and the local knowledge of the continent. This includes having access to the most up-to-date, country-specific tax-, legal- and regulatory content and technology solutions. Our dedicated Africa division is open for business and establishing local partnerships with like-minded entities so that we can continue to enable the private and public sector to better navigate the fluid nature of the African legal and regulatory landscape. Solid adherence to the rule of law will be critical in ensuring our continent’s march towards prosperity.”

Scott Cowan, Africa Professional Services Group’s CEO, echoed the importance of seeing strong evidence of the rule of law in action. “So much of Africa’s development potential needs to rest on the solid foundations of law and the trustworthiness of the local institutions tasked with the provision of justice. We hope that this report can play a part in catalysing the changes this amazing continent needs to see for such foundations to be built. We could not ask for a better partner in LexisNexis to pursue such a worthwhile project.”

To read the full report CLICK HERE.