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<xTITLE>ODR in Africa</xTITLE>

ODR in Africa

by Mohamed S. Abdel Wahab
May 2013

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:

Mohamed  S. Abdel  Wahab
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.


wahab1.pdf ODR in Africa  (wahab1.pdf)


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 the head of the Firm’s International Arbitration and Project Finance/PPP Groups. Dr. Abdel Wahab is an approved Tutor, Vice-Chairman of the Cairo branch of theChartered Institute of Arbitrators, and Chair of the Institute’s Technology Committee.  Dr. Abdel Wahab also holds a number of visiting posts in Egypt, the UK, and the USA. He is currently a Fellow of the Centre for Technology and Dispute Resolution at the University of Massachusetts, USA and Adjunct Professor and Faculty Coordinator for the Indiana University LL.M. Program in Business and Comparative Law (Egypt). Dr. Abdel Wahab is a Senior Counselor for International Legal Affairs and International Contracts at the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA). He regularly appears as arbitrator, expert, and counsel in major ad-hoc and institutional arbitral proceeding ssubject to Egyptian and foreign laws such as English,F rench, Emirati, Saudi and Swiss Laws, where he has prosecuted arbitral proceedings across diverse investment and commercial spectrums. Dr. Abdel Wahab is also a CEDR accredited mediator, member of the LCIA Arab Users Council, and Mediation Consultant to the World Bank. He is a leading ODR scholar, who holds over forty-five prizes for academic achievement, and has widely published in learned international journals and is a regular speaker in national and internationa lconferences on International Commercial Arbitration, Online Dispute Resolution, Private International Law, Project Finance and PPPs, and IT Law.

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