African Commercial Law Must Be Reformed

By Spraracino, Joann C. | African Business, October 1997 | Go to article overview

African Commercial Law Must Be Reformed

Spraracino, Joann C., African Business

Recent trade and investment headways in Africa have made it clear both here in the United States and abroad that an African economic renewal is underway. US exports to Africa grew 20% last year and foreign direct investment flows to sub-Saharan Africa reached $4.5bn.

Earlier this year, for example, the Texas-based BC Communications Inc. and Telex Malaysia Berhad bought a 30% stake in Telkom South Africa, the state-owned phone company, for $1.26bn.

A recent task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations reported that the United States exports more to Africa than to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union combined, and that Africa will become increasingly important as a market because more than a third of US economic growth results from exports.

Once marginalised continent

This once marginalised continent has been capturing the attention of US investors in a series of summits held recently, from New York City and Washington, DC, to African capitals. July's African African-American Summit in Harare, Zimbabwe attracted over 3,000 participants. AT&T, General Motors, Chevron, Chrysler, Coca-Cola, Shell Oil, Microsoft, Philip Morris, Johnson & Johnson, and Proctor and Gamble were among the US firms represented.

A major business summit held this spring in northern Virginia also included numerous Fortune 500 companies among its 700 participants. This surge in interest comes at a time when the Clinton Administration and a bipartisan group in Congress are presenting a ground-breaking trade and investment policy to move Africa away from dependence on foreign aid and into the international business arena.

Commercial Legal Reform in Africa

A recent conference in Washington, DC focused attention on a critical and often overlooked aspect of the trade and investment equation, the commercial legal regulatory environment.

The panel discussion, co-sponsored by the American Bar Association and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, provided a timely discussion and debate on the need for commercial legal reform in Africa as an essential component to creating an enabling environment for domestic and foreign trade and investment.

The programme itself was testimony to the rising business interest in the continent by the standing-room only crowd which packed the hall.

The 120 participants included representatives of businesses, law firms, banks, embassies, the US Congress, and the State, Commerce and Treasury Departments. The Chairman of the International Law Institute, the Vice-Dean of Harvard Law School, and the Chief Counsel for Africa at The World Bank were among the distinguished panelists.

With the support of multilateral, bilateral, and local donors, commercial legal reform projects have been on the rise in Africa and are expected to continue to grow. Such projects have already taken root in Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, and Ghana.

In addition, two major regional reform efforts are underway: the Harmonised Investment Code for the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEOMA), and the treaty of the Organization for the Harmonisation of Business Law in Africa (OHADA). These have already been signed by 17 nations in a bid to harmonise the business laws of African nations, beginning with the francophone countries.

A comprehensive commercial legal regulatory reform project should address areas that directly and indirectly impact the private sector such as laws governing commerce, corporations, contracts, property and taxation, as well as those interconnected areas which support the legal environment. These include the recording and dissemination of laws, regulations, and court decisions; training for lawyers and government officials in new laws and legal concepts; public education campaigns about the role of law in a market economy; and efficient judicial and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, including arbitration, conciliation, and mediation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

African Commercial Law Must Be Reformed


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.