African laws go online

An agreement that puts Ghana’s laws online is part of a growing trend in Africa.

The government of Ghana earlier this month signed an agreement with Data Centa Ghana Ltd. and Lexis Nexis Butherworths (Pty) Ltd. that will make Ghana’s revised laws accessible online. Ghana will provide the laws to the joint venture, according to officials at the two companies. The joint venture will study the material, send queries back for clarification and publish laws online and in hard-copy format.

Meanwhile, the two business partners in the agreement are also negotiating to offer Ghana Law Reports and the All England Law Reports online. Links to similar cases in the two law reports is one advantage of the electronic versions, according to officials at the two companies.

“We are fiercely proud of what we have done,” said Kojo Bentsi-Enchill, a director at Data Centa. “We are interested to see what we will learn from them (Lexis Nexis Butherworths).” Data Centa has already consolidated most of the country’s statutes and has computerized over 80,000 pages of Ghanaian law.

Bentsi-Enchill was equally upbeat about negotiations on the joint publication of the Ghana Law Reports and the All England Law Reports. “It will be a fabulous tool, l would be surprised if we don’t do it in the second half of 2005,” he said.

Lexis Nexis Butherworths has similar projects currently going on in East Africa and Nigeria. In East Africa the company is offering the consolidated law reports of Uganda, Kenya and Tunisia on CD, and is doing similar work on the Nigerian law reports.

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