Hook Tangaza is pleased to announce the launch of our new initiative – the Africa Legal Tech Network. The ALT Network is an online platform and community that promotes technological innovation in the provision of legal services in Africa.
Over the last few months on our different journeys in various African countries, we have met and talked to more and more lawyers and tech companies who are keen to develop technology and legal tech and participate in building links across the continent that will facilitate connections with law firms, investors and collaborations with counterparts in Africa and beyond.
Already, there are flourishing tech collaborations within the financial, health, education sectors, but very little is known or understood about the legal sector and its needs. This network will facilitate links between the two, and also promote greater understanding of the regulatory and wider policy environment which is critical to growth in the sector.
There is evidence of a growing interest in the use of technology in the African legal services sector which has progressed with some of the most innovative uses of technology to overcome traditional constraints in people’s personal and commercial lives. From the mobile money transfer app, M-Pesa, famously pioneered a decade or so ago in Kenya, and has now been replicated globally, tech innovation has grown in other sectors, such as financial services, education, farming and healthcare – including indications of a robotics revolution to address infrastructure challenges. These innovations have also stimulated entrepreneurial ventures with over 300 tech incubators and hubs across the continent - but none focusing on the legal sector.
Most of the legal ‘techpreneurs’ in Africa are currently focusing on access to justice, access to law, or SME-support type innovations. These areas are likely to continue to form most of the legal tech on offer, reflecting the (real or perceived) view that this is the biggest need in the African legal sector, and critically, where there is greatest availability of funding from multilateral and private donors. The ALT Network will promote alternative commercially-focused legal technology, bringing Africa’s lawyers and law firms together with its growing tech entrepreneur community to create new innovative products and services and enrich both the legal sector and technology market.
Despite African law firms being just as conservative as their bigger Western counterparts, there is a distinct entrepreneurial spirit fed by the need to find a competitive advantage and a young population that is much more tech savvy, particularly in the bigger jurisdictions. Issues of cybersecurity and data management in an increasingly inter-connected world are starting to have an impact on African businesses and their advisors with few obvious local solutions in sight.
The ALT Network aims to stimulate creativity in legal technology entrepreneurship, connect lawyers with innovative methods and solutions and contribute to an enabling policy and regulatory environment across the continent. Join the conversation at www.alt-network.com