The Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law (HiiL) Innovating Justice Hub has officially been launched in West Africa. The Hub which was launched during an information session at the iDEA Nigeria, provides a working space where entrepreneurs and technology innovators can meet up and find solutions to issues surrounding justice in West Africa. The event was organized in collaboration with DIYLaw, Law Pavilion, The Law Event, OIIE and Law Society of Unilag.
The move is meant to increase access to justice for SMEs and people across West Africa and Africa at large. Technology solutions in the justice sector are also meant to increase the speed at which various justice issues are handled.
Speaking at the launch, HiiL’s Innovating Justice Regional Liason, Olufunbi Falayi termed the hub as a new dawn for the justice system in Africa. Falayi: “We are aiming to make legal processes simpler and more efficient by using technology, and this hub will strive to ensure that this is achieved.”
HiiL is opening local justice hubs across the continent to scout, select and accelerate justice innovations. Over the past year, local HiiL agents have already been scouting and accelerating justice innovations in Nairobi’s iHub and Nailab, leading up to the East African Innovating Justice Hub in the near future. More justice hubs are expected to be set up in North and Southern Africa.
Wilfried De Wever, Head of the HiiL Innovating Justice Accelerator stressed the importance of youth led start-ups, observing that investing in the business climate from the bottom-up increases the sustainability of the flow of capital to the continent: “These innovations can significantly contribute to the improvement of the daily lives of people and SMEs across Africa.”
The West Africa Hub is already incubating DIYLaw.ng, the winner of the 2015 SME Empowerment Innovation Challenge. This Challenge was developed by HiiL, together with the Global Agenda Council on Justice and the Ford Foundation, to support African innovations that tackle barriers to SME growth in the region. In particular, the challenge aims to find innovations that address regulatory hurdles and bureaucratic red tape faced by youth-led startups in East and West Africa. The call for applications for the 2016 SME Empowerment Challenge will start this month and can be accessed on HiiL’s website.