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    African Business Laws on CD-ROM and the Internet


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 4/1999

    Fifteen countries in Africa have joined forces to offer a single business law environment, in order to facilitate worldwide trade with businesses . OHADA - the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa - has been working since 1993 to create a unified set of laws and rules. These were issued in 1998 and 1999 and are immediately applicable.

    Trade development success story

    The OHADA legislation is the biggest legal reform that western Africa has undertaken. It is also unique in the world. This major achievement provides 15 countries with identical business laws, from commercial and company laws to labour, sales and transport laws. This is a success story for the western African business community to build upon and can serve as a model for other regions.

    These new laws must now reach those who conduct trade in the region. African entrepreneurs, lawyers and foreign investors need access to these legal texts and forms in order to register companies and conduct business in the region.

    An ITC partnership

    OHADA laws and rules are now available on CD-ROM in French, with some parts translated into English, Spanish and Portuguese. They are also available on the Juris International web site (http://www.jurisint.org). The OHADA CD-ROM and web site were co-developed by the OHADA Secretariat and Juris International, a partnership between ITC, the University of Montreal and the University of Nancy, with support from the Fonds Francophonie des Inforoutes.

    Fifteen countries have ratified the OHADA treaty as of 1 November 1999: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. Guinea is well advanced in the ratification process and likely to become the sixteenth country to ratify the treaty.

    OHADA's purpose is to create a unified legal framework among African countries; a single set of business rules; a common court system for interpreting these laws and rules; and a regional training institute for magistrates.

    Juris International is a trilingual (English, French, Spanish) collection of essential information on business law, available on the Internet. Juris International cooperates with business law associations and organizations in over 100 countries. Juris International addresses the lack of practical international trade law information by helping business lawyers find affordable legal information for drawing up international contracts and strengthening their position when negotiating internationally.

    For more information, contact: Permanent Secretariat of OHADA, P.O. Box 10071, Yaoundé, Cameroon. Tel./Fax: 237 21 67 45

    To order the CD-ROM, contact Jean-François Bourque, ITC Senior Adviser on Legal Aspects of Foreign Trade, at bourque@intracen.org

    The information is also available on the Juris International web site at http://www.juris.int.org