What matters to you.

Forum Network

Free online lectures: Explore a world of ideas

Funding provided by:

Legal Infrastructure Enhancement and Economic Development in Africa

In partnership with:
Date and time
Thursday, November 04, 2010

Mr. Munyantwali focuses on how enhanced legal infrastructure can be a useful tool in promoting African economic development. Currently, Africa’s legal and judicial institutions, while improving, still need strengthening to cope with the demands of Africa's rapid economic development and effective participation in the global economy. Many legal and judicial institutions on the African continent are hampered by archaic practices, such as non existent or outdated court reports, the hand recording of court decisions, the lack of or limited application of alternate modes of dispute resolution, and rampant court corruption. When coupled with other functional inadequacies, such prevailing factors render many jurisdictions unattractive for investment. Local and foreign investors are drawn to investment destinations characterized by functioning courts and speedy adjudication of disputes rooted in a reasonably predicable jurisprudential normative framework. Many commentators have observed that to reverse this trend requires the political will to establish institutions that adhere to the aforementioned norms and symbolize adherence to basic rule of law principles - such as a functioning judiciary, predicable and well-drafted laws, solid legal and judicial institutions and well trained legal professionals. To the casual western observer this might be taken for granted and presumably easy to establish, but these are serious challenges in many African and emerging global economies. Many of the problems are rooted in undemocratic and former command economies that are rapidly adopting capitalistic norms driven by a dominant private sector. The discussion offers a range of possible solutions towards a regime underscored by a solid legal infrastructure.

Swithin Munyantwali is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the International Law Institute African Centre for Legal Excellence (ILI-ACLE) based in Kampala, Uganda. The ILI-ACLE is Africa’s premier legal infrastructure development institution serving a broad constituency of government, public sector and non-governmental organisations through technical assistance and training. Since its establishment 14 years ago, the ILI-ACLE has competitively bid and been engaged by major bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors and regional governments to implement a large portfolio including: court restructuring and upgrading, law drafting, parliamentary strengthening, and various capacity building activities benefitting in excess of 10,000 members of the bar and bench and other related professionals in over 35 countries in sub-Saharan Africa to mention but a few. The Centre which has an office in Lesotho, is currently implementing rule of law projects in 22 African countries and will soon open an office in Liberia towards strengthening the judiciary through the training of over 3,000 court officers and judicial staff. Mr. Munyantwali is also an advisor and Board member to international entities such as UNCTAD, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, and the ABA-UNDP Advisory Board Centre in Washington, DC. He has also served as an advisor to major US entities on strategic investments in Africa. He is a Non-Executive Director to the Board of Barclays Bank Uganda, where he also serves as the Chairman of the Board Human Resources and Compensation Committee, and previously as the Chair of the Board Audit Committee. He was recently appointed by the Under-Secretary General of the UN Habitat to a special committee advising on special investment initiatives by UN Habitat. On the invitation of the Secretary General of Interpol, Mr. Munyantwali serves on the Informal Board of Experts Bioterrorism Prevention Program. Mr. Munyantwali has served as a Guest Professor at the Macau University of Science and Technology, as well as the City University of Hong Kong Law School. Mr. Munyantwali obtained his education at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (B.Sc Criminal Justice, 1998); his Juris Doctor at Case Western Reserve Law School (1992); and his Masters in International Law (LLM) at Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C. (1993). He is a licensed U.S. lawyer, admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.