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ODR in Africa

This chapter is from “Online Dispute Resolution
Theory and Practice,” Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Ethan Katsh & Daniel Rainey ( Eds.), published, sold and distributed by Eleven International Publishing.
The Hague, Netherlands at: www.elevenpub.com
.

Africa is a vast and rich continent. It is the world’s second-largest and second most populous
continent. With approximately more than 2000 spoken languages and around 800 dialects
used throughout Africa,
the Continent is experiencing an accelerated economic growth,
especially in sub-Saharan low and middle income States. The African expected economic
growth rate is at about 5.0% for 2010 and 5.5% in 2011.

Such rich diversity, which spans the African continent, has certainly impacted its legal
culture, especially the dispute resolution culture. However, owing to the numerous economic and technological challenges experienced by Africa, the incorporation of ICT in
dispute resolution schemes has not yet been fully utilized. In fact, ICT implementation in
traditional dispute resolution schemes as well as the creation of new forms of technology
based processes is still at its inception in the overwhelming majority of States. To the
exclusion of South Africa, Egypt, and Tunisia, which often receive the highest African
rankings in the Network Readiness Index (NRI) developed by the World Economic Forum,
African states are grappling to build their ICT infrastructure and bridging the digital
divide. However, itis worth noting that Africa now holds ten places in the top 100 states on the NRI, where the Gambia ranks the 76th, Senegal ranks the 80th, Kenya ranks 81st, Namibia ranks 82nd, Morroco ranks 83rd, Botswana ranks 91st, and Ghana ranks 99th.

Owing to the fact that ODR essentially involves utilizing ICT applications to, directly
or indirectly, resolve disputes, it is a prerequisite for ODR to have an efficient techno-legal
framework that can support ODR modalities.

Information technology, the Internet, wide area networking techniques, and broadband
connections have made it possible for anyone to transmit significant amounts of information
across the globe instantaneously, which improves the conditions of the global economy,
accelerates the growth of e-commerce, and creates a positive milieu for the development
of ODR. Thus, it seems in order to shed light on the ICT status quo in Africa to enable
readers to comprehend the challenges to ODR implementation in Africa.

That said, this chapter, which aims at analyzing the use of ODR in Africa, shall first
provide a succinct analysis of ICT in African countries, as ICT applications constitute the
foundational basis and readiness for the use of ODR in Africa.

Subsequently,
reference shall be made to the legal and regulatory matrix of laws and regulations adopted
in the techno-leading African countries, as such matrix is indispensable for boosting trust
and e-confidence in ODR schemes.

Thereafter, a special note of domain names
disputes seems in order as such sector specific disputes are already paving the way for the
proper implementation of ODR in Africa. Finally, the chapter shall conclude
by providing a pathway for the future of ODR in Africa including specific references to
the most appropriate and appealing sectors for ODR services.

Attachments to this Article

                        author

Mohamed S. Abdel Wahab

Dr. Mohamed S. Abdel Wahab (MCIArb.), Licence en Droit (CAI), LL.M. (CAI), CIArb Dip. International Commercial Arbitration (Balliol College, Oxford University), MPhil and Ph.D (Manchester University, UK), is an Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law (Cairo University, Egypt).  He is a Founding Partner of Zulficar & Partners where he serves as… MORE >

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