Why access to African law matters

Laws.Africa’s mission is to enable African governments to sustainably provide free access to reliable digital laws in a way that is user-friendly, accessible, educational and re-usable.

This empowers individuals, communities, government, businesses and innovators in support of our vision of an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.

In most African countries, there is no free source of high quality, up-to-date legislation. Millions of Africans do not have access to the laws that govern them.

Laws.Africa makes African law more accessible and usable. We provide digital, high-quality and accurate African law to audiences in Africa and the world, in support of the rule of law and development.

Access to the law supports human rights and access to justice and helps businesses and communities to thrive.

Human rights, good governance and access to justice

Increased availability of up-to-date legislation makes judicial systems more efficient, improves access to justice and supports human rights.

An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law

Good governance and efficient legal systems

Legal systems cannot function fairly or effectively without shared agreement on what the law says. Both the public and private sectors must have equal access to the text of the law.

Through our publication partners, Laws.Africa provides current and reliable digital legislation to judges, magistrates, advocates, attorneys, researchers, students and governments.

  1. Legal practitioners have up-to-date access to the latest legislation.
  2. Acts are updated within days, not years.
  3. Sole practitioners, and both small and large law firms, all have equal access, for free.
  4. Together with AfricanLII.org, we save the African legal community millions of dollars in subscription fees every year.

We conduct ongoing user research to understand the needs of a wide range of legal information users and stakeholders across Africa, and use this to continually improve the availability and accessibility of this information.

Press Release: AU African Governance Architecture Project
Laws.Africa and four partners win a major EU grant to strengthen implementation of the African Union’s democracy and human rights agenda.

Respect for the law

Everyone has the right to know the laws that govern them, and the responsibility to act within those laws. Free and equal access to the law provides a foundation for equality, conflict-resolution and empowerment, and helps communities to cooperate and function effectively.

Laws.Africa works with publishing partners to take the law to those who need it. Our technology underpins and enables AfricanLII.org, the largest collection of freely available African legal information in the world, serving hundreds of thousands of users every month.

I am [a] resident in deep rural vicinity Sekhukhuneland Central, aged 73.

May I be supplied with: Magistrates Court Act; Public Prosecutors' Act; Attorneys' Act; South African Statute books; Gender violance Act; Land reform, restitution and redistribution Act.
A request from a user in South Africa, seeking to empower themselves with legal resources.

Capacity building within African governments

Many African governments lack the capacity to manage their own legislation and are forced to delegate the consolidation and publication of their laws to private companies. They must then buy back their own laws with restrictive licensing that limits the re-use.

Laws.Africa re-capacitates African governments to modernise their legislation publication processes and make foundational legal information available to the public. We believe in open access and ensuring that governments have full ownership of their legislation.

We offer our platforms, knowledge base and training to Attorneys General’s offices, Law Reform Commissions, Government Printers, Parliaments and Judiciaries across the continent in support of their work and mandates.

Supporting civil society organisations

Laws.Africa works with funders, the legal and justice sectors, and non-profit organisations to help them incorporate primary legal information from our openly licensed collections into their access to justice activities. This enables more efficient, higher-impact outreach and programming.

C4ADS Case Study
C4ADS partnered with Laws.Africa to digitise African gazettes to support the disruption of illicit networks.

Supporting business and development

Improving access to the law lowers the cost of doing business and improves investment.

Enhancing the efficiency of the judicial system can improve the business climate, foster innovation, attract foreign direct investment and secure tax revenues.

Improved regulatory compliance

Businesses of all sizes are faced with an ever-greater need for regulatory compliance. Small and medium businesses in particular are negatively affected if they do not have access to up-to-date regulations, placing their businesses, customers and employees at risk.

Regional, national and municipal regulations are all important parts of the regulatory landscape. From cross-border trade to waste disposal for small hair salons, Laws.Africa’s growing collection of African acts and regulations evens the playing field for businesses of all sizes.

SpotOn Case Study
SpotOn uses Laws.Africa's legislation data to provide an on-line compliance management system to enable clients to comply with environmental and health and safety legislation.

Women-owned business, small business and informal traders

Small businesses and the informal sector are an essential part of African economies, yet they have limited access to professional legal advice and resources. Free access to basic legal information helps these businesses to grow and support families and communities.

Use of law to enforce land rights and ensure that women can access loans often means more equal power for women within the home and broader community, as well as enabling them to realize economic opportunities and safeguard their family's future if they become the sole provider.
Ndidi Ezenwa, Laws.Africa Advisory Board member

Enabling innovation

Our machine-readable legislation data is a building block for innovators and entrepreneurs. Traditional Word and PDF files lock in value and prevent re-use. Laws.Africa uses the open Akoma Ntoso XML standard for legislative documents, which separates content, structure and presentation and supports analysis, machine learning and app development.

Our legislation content is available for free for non-profit use, and under flexible licensing terms for commercial applications.

We keep the law up to date so you don’t have to, letting you focus on what makes your business unique.

→ Use Laws.Africa content to power your business and research