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Legal Updates


Algeria

Algeria finalises a new petroleum bill draftAlgeria finalises a new petroleum bill draft: Mohamed Arkab, Algeria’s Minister of Energy, announced on Tuesday that the final version of a new hydrocarbon law has been drafted and will be submitted to authorities for approval. It covers institutional, contractual, fiscal and environmental terms.

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Angola

Update on mining: Anglo American, one of the world's largest commodities miners, has asked Angola for permission to explore for base metals. The move makes Anglo American the first mining major to request exploration permits in Angola since President João Lourenço vowed to open up the sector and encourage foreign investment.

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Public Debt Law regulated in Angola: Presidential Decree No. 164/18 of 12 July 2018 regulates the legal framework for direct and indirect public debt.

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Angola is the last Lusophone country to decriminalize homosexuality: In a review of its penal code which has stood since 1975, the amendment of the code was passed with 155 votes in favour, one against and seven abstentions.

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Bénin

Bénin Adopts New Petroleum Code. Bénin recently adopted a new petroleum code, making the country one of the latest frontier countries in the West Africa oil and gas industry to update its petroleum law. The code provides for a production sharing contract regime and applies to upstream operations only.

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Botswana

Botswana’s High Court Decriminalizes Gay Sex: Botswana’s High Court ruled on Tuesday to overturn colonial-era laws that criminalized homosexuality, a decision hailed by activists as a significant step for gay rights on the African continent.

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Proposed changes to age of consent: The government of Botswana has initiated moves to increase the age of sexual consent from the 16 years to 18 years. The aim is to afford greater protection for minors particularly in relation to child sex crimes and to introduce tougher and more uniform sentencing for certain crimes.

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Burundi

Referendum on contested reforms: Burundi’s President, Pierre Nkurunziza, has set 17th May 2018 as the date for a referendum on a controversial constitutional reform that could keep him in power till 2034.

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Burundi withdraws from ICC's Rome Statute: Burundi withdrew from the ICC's Rome Statute as of 27 October 2017. Such withdrawal is said not to affect the jurisdiction of the court with regards to alleged crimes committed prior to the official withdrawal date. This means the ICC will continue to investigate killings, imprisonments and enforced disappearances.

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Burundi’s Potential Presidential Term Increase: The new draft constitution for Burundi would allow its president to be elected for a renewable seven-year term, with a limit preventing such president from serving more than two consecutive terms. This constitutional change would allow President Pierre Nkurunziza to be elected in 2020 and re-elected seven years later. The new constitution would be in contravention of the Arusha peace agreement, which stipulates that no president may govern for more than 10 years.

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Burundi suspends foreign NGOs for violation of new law: Burundi has suspended some foreign non-governmental organizations for three months for violating a new law. During the period of the ban, which takes effect from October 1, the government will be verifying "the conformity of the NGOs with the law".

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Burundi orders foreign NGOs to comply with law imposing ethnic staff quotas: The NGOs' operations are the main means of getting aid into Burundi after financial lines to the government were cut as it plunged into political crisis in April 2015.

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Cote d'ivoire

Cote d'Ivoire pushes for gender equality: According to Human Rights Watch, Cote d'Ivoire is on the verge of passing new marriage reforms that will provide married women equal rights to household assets. It will also protect a woman’s right to inherit when her spouse dies. Under the current Law on Marriage (2012) husbands administered all marital property. Married women were not allowed to manage or dispose of marital property. This includes property women inherit through marriage. The only provision to women is the right to provide consent over major transactions over marital property.

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Update on mining law: Cancellation of Certain Corporate Tax Incentives for Holders of Exploitation Permits.

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Democratic Republic of Congo

Update on Mining Law: Congo has rejected the proposal by the mining industry to soften some provisions in new the mining code in exchange for higher royalties.

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New Mining Law: The President has signed a new mining code that raises loyalties and taxes on operators into law. International mining companies have vigorously opposed this law.

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Democratic Republic of Congo Revises Mining Law: The new Congolese Mining Law which is yet to be signed by the President drastically raises royalties to be paid to Government by Oil Firms on most of the resources extracted in the country.

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The new mining code to remain intact: DRC’s Mines Minister, Martin Kabwelulu reaffirmed during the mining conference in Kolwezi that the new mining code signed into law in March could not be called into question. This is after major mining companies including Glencore and Randgold bitterly opposed the code because it hikes royalties and taxes, hoping that it might be watered down in further negotiations.

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Tax agreement signed between China and Congo: The People’s Republic of China, like other countries such as France, Italy, Mauritius, has signed a Tax Agreement with the Republic of Congo to prevent double taxation and tax evasion between the two states (“the Tax Convention”).

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Egypt

A new investment law has provided a particularly important landmark in Egypt’s bid to boost the business environment, leading to increased private investment and improved confidence.

Following some difficult measures taken to stabilize the economy, in the context of a complex global economic environment, Egypt’s recent package of reforms have been specifically aimed at revitalizing local and foreign investment and positioning the country as a business and trade gateway to the African continent, and the world.

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Is Egypt Ready for Electronic Payments Law as it Comes Into Force?: President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi approved last week the new law regulating non-cash payments entering into force since Wednesday.

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Egypt Approves Law to Govern Popular Ride-Hailing Apps: The new law establishes operating licenses and fees. It requires licensed companies to store user data for 180 days and provide it to Egyptian security authorities upon request.

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Egypt introduces new law to protect tourists from pestering: To protect its resurging tourist industry, Egypt has promised harsh penalties for anyone caught harassing tourists.

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Egypt receives final $500 million tranche of African Development Bank loan: Egypt has received the third and last $500 million tranche of a $1.5 billion African Development Bank loan which will support the government's development programmes. The loan was agreed in 2015 amid an acute foreign currency shortage that crippled import activity.

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Changes to the labour law are anticipated: Recently, a new draft labor law prepared by the government has been discussed but nothing has been submitted to the Parliament. It remains unclear when the new draft will be implemented, and all the indicators are that it will adopt the same protective approach. In the meantime, no major developments nor amendments have been made to the Labor Law, although a Ministerial Decree is anticipated providing for public holidays in the private sector.

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Egypt to amend controversial NGO law: Egypt plans to amend a controversial law passed last year that places tight controls on non-governmental organisations, the prime minister's office said on Wednesday. Ratified in May 2017 by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the law has sparked fears of an intensified crackdown on civil society. Since Sisi took power in 2014, rights groups have regularly accused his government of human rights violations and over the repression of dissidents. The law provides Egypt's intelligence and security services with strict controls over the activities of non-governmental organisations, especially groups that receive foreign funding. The law has been the target of strong criticism from the United Nations and international watchdogs, including Human Rights Watch.

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Ethiopia

Ethiopia parliament to approve telecoms liberalisation law: Ethiopia's parliament on Monday will approve a law covering the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector, a parliament spokesman said, opening up one of Africa's last remaining state-controlled telecoms markets.

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Ethiopia passes tough law regulating alcohol sales, advert: Ethiopia has banned all advertising of alcoholic drinks, as part of efforts to promote healthy living in the East African nation. “In addition to banning alcoholic drinks commercials, lottery prizes connected with alcoholic drinks and billboards promoting alcoholic drinks are prohibited under the new proclamation,” Health Minister Amir Aman told state media outlets on Tuesday. The ban comes after government forbade smoking near public institutions and introduced a car-free day in major Ethiopian cities one Sunday a month.

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Ethiopia ready to ratify Africa free trade deal:  The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, has stated that his government is ready to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) deal.

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MoU Signed to Promote China-Ethiopia Genomics, Biotechnology Cooperation: Two institutes from Ethiopia and China have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on scientific and technological cooperation in genomics and biotechnology.

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Internet access in eastern Ethiopia shut down: Authorities have shut off Internet access in eastern Ethiopia amid an outbreak of violence there, a sign of the challenges facing reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in containing ethnic tensions in parts of the country.

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Ethiopia embarks on strategies to privatize state owned enterprises: Ethiopia’s Prime Minister has appointed an Advisory Council to advise his Government on the privatization of state-owned enterprises that will ensure the accountability and transparency throughout the process.

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Ethiopia to reform judicial system, amend repressive laws: Ethiopia will reform several laws including the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, media law and the Charities and Societies Proclamation, that are widely perceived to having had a detrimental effect on human rights and democracy, according to a speech delivered by the country’s president Mulatu Teshome.

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Ethiopians get new legal path for Mideast work: In a bid to protect its workers from mistreatment and give them a legitimate path to work abroad, the Ethiopian government will officially kick off overseas employment services starting with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan. The three Gulf countries whose governments Ethiopia signed agreements with to enable migrants to work legally. Five years ago, Ethiopia had banned its citizens from traveling to the region to protect them from mistreatment.

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Gabon

Hydrocarbon Law: Gabon plans to revise its hydrocarbon Law to attract new investment.

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Ghana

West Africa: ECOWAS Adopts Draft Mining Act:  Ministers in charge of the Minerals Development in the Economic Community of West African States have adopted the draft ECOWAS Model Mining and Minerals Act, which is to serve as a blueprint for mineral resource development in the West African Sub-region.

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Ghana National Petroleum Corp (GNPC) signs a preliminary 12-year liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply deal with Russia’s Rosneft:   In a move that will see delivery of natural gas to Ghana’s Tema port, thus meeting the energy demand of the West African nation, the deal aims to strengthen West Africa’s energy security and reinforce Ghana’s position as the regional LNG hub.

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International Criminal Court Bill: Civil society groups in Ghana have urged the government to pass the International Criminal Court Bill 2016 into law. Ghana ratified the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute) in 1999 but is yet to pass it into local legislation

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Chamber of Mines and Standards Authority Sign MoU: On the 19 November 2017, the Ghana Chamber of Mines and the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance and strengthen technical cooperation in the fields of standardisation, metrology and conformity assessment.

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New Law to Protect HIV Positive Ghanaians: Ghana is in the process of introducing a new law that aims to protect people with HIV/AIDs from discrimination from both their familities and society in general.

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Update on energy law: The Ghana Youth Environmental Movement (GYEM) has urged the Government of Ghana to review and enforce Renewable Energy Law (Act 832, 2011) to develop and promote the Renewable Energy (RE) sector in Ghana.

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Update on oil and gas: Ghana and nine other African countries have been selected to benefit from collaborative projects between global energy major, Eni-SpA, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) aimed at improving access to sustainable energy.

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Parliament Approves Supreme Court Nominees: The four nominees are Prof. Emmanuel Nii Ashie Kotey, former Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ghana; Nene Abayateye Ofoe Amegatcher, former president of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA); Justice Agnes M.A. Dordzie, Appeal Court Judge; and Justice Samuel Kofi Marful-Sau, an Appeal Court Judge. The nominees who were nominated by President Akufo-Addo on July 3, 2018, for the Supreme Court were subsequently vetted by the Appointments Committee of Parliament.

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Kenya

Court nullifies law on incitement in the Communications Act: The High Court has declared a section of the Kenya Information Communication Act (KICA) that prohibits sharing of information that could lead to incitement null and void. In her ruling, Justice Winfridah Okwany stated that Section 84 (d) of the Act limits the freedom of expression. Okwany observed that it is only through criticism that leaders and other members of the society will know that their actions are not accepted. The court rejected the laws on the grounds of being too broad and vague, which would make it difficult for the accused to defend themselves. She further said the section was against Article 33 of the Constitution that provides for freedom of expression and Article 25 (c) on the right to a fair trial. The Judge said a law, which creates an offence should not be vague as it should enable an accused person to defend themselves. The blogger was accused of publishing obscene information on electronic media contrary to the KICA.

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Lawyers qualified to practice in the EACmay be allowed to practice in Kenya: A Nairobi court described as absurd regulations that bar advocates from the East African Community who have not practised for more than five years from being admitted to the roll of advocates in Kenya.

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Clear guarantor laws will deal with lending grey areas:  The National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee approved a bill seeking to amend the Law of Contract Act in order to provide legal protection to guarantors whenever commercial banks and lenders are pursuing a principal borrower.  

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State plans law change to ease KPA Sh30bn terminal takeover. The government is changing the law to smoothen the way for the takeover of the Sh30 billion Kenya Ports Authority second container terminal by the Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) and a private foreign entity.

If MPs approve a new Bill, KNSL will take over management of the terminal in Mombasa in a deal that is similar to the proposed takeover of management of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by struggling national career Kenya Airways. 

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New law hands oil-rich counties 25 percent of revenue. President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed into law a Bill outlining how oil revenues will be shared between the government and local communities. Under the new Petroleum Act that has been in the works for over two years, the county government will enjoy 20 per cent of revenue from petroleum operations while five per cent will go to local communities living around the oil wells. The national government will retain 75 per cent of the revenue. 

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Is Kenya seeking out-of-court settlement on spat with Somalia?  Kenya is reaching out to neighbours and international community to find an amicable solution to the maritime dispute with Somalia. Diplomatic sources said Kenya is now trying to persuade Somalia to withdraw the case at the International Court of Justice in favour of an out-of-court settlement, which could include shared development of the oil and gas resources.  

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Banks back tough money laundering regulations. Commercial banks have backed the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) stringent anti-money laundering laws, despite plans by legislators to relax them. Sector lobby Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) chairman Joshua Oigara said the laws were necessary to protect the integrity of the banking system.

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The High Court of Kenya declares the Contempt of Court Act unconstitutional. The High Court of Kenya declares the Contempt of Court Act unconstitutional.  A declaration was issued to the effect that the entire Contempt of Court Act, No. 46 of 2016, was invalid for lack of public participation as required by articles 10 and 118(b) of the Constitution and encroached on the independence of the judiciary.
The High Court of Kenya described the act to promote unjustifiable discrimination.

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Treasury proposes setting up agency to protect borrowers from dodgy charges: The proposed agency will prevent banks from exploiting consumers through unscrupulous practices, including the loading of excessive interest and charges on loans.

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Treasury Proposes new finance law: The law is aimed at regulating the financial sector, In the opinion of the Kenyan central bank’s governor, the proposed law will emasculate the central bank (CBK).

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Kenya suspends sections of cybercrime law: Justice Chacha Mwita has suspended 26 sections of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrime law after a successful petition from the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE)

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Kenya signs cyber-crimes act into law: The new bill imposes stiff fines and jail terms for hacking, computer fraud, forgery of data, cyber-espionage, publishing child pornography or sending pornographic content via any electronic means.

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Wildlife poachers in Kenya to face death penalty: To conserve Kenya’s wildlife populations, the country’s tourism and wildlife minister has reportedly announced that poachers will face capital punishment once the new law is passed.

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Kenya set to ratify Africa trade pact: Kenya is set to submit its papers for the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) that was signed in March in Kigali, Rwanda, making Kenya the third country in Africa to ratify the convention after Rwanda and Ghana.

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The Division of Revenue Bill 2018: The Kenyan Parliament has passed the Division of Revenue Bill for 2018. The bill is an annual law passed by Parliament to divide public funds between national and county levels of government.

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Energy Regulatory Commission proposes fuel regulation: Kenya’s Energy Regulatory Commission has forwarded a proposal to create a uniform price for fuel across the country in order to end disparities in a controlled market.

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Kenyan Election Law (Election Laws Amendment Act, No. 1 of 2017): Legislators have amended Kenya’s election law to state that in the case a presidential candidate withdraws from a repeat election, the other candidate automatically wins.

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Kenyan Competition Act (Competition Act No. 12 of 2010): Following the introduction of the Competition Act in 2010, Kenya has finally established the Competition Tribunal and the Competition Authority of Kenya.

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Kenyan Banking (Amendment Act) 2016: Kenyan banks have ignored newly implemented banking regulations regulations, which capped loan interest at 4% above the Central Bank Rate.

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State-owned Companies and banking: There exists an overlap between the draft Financial Matters Amendment Bill, 2018 (the Draft Bill) and the Banks Amendment Bill, (Private Members Bill), both awaiting public hearing and adoption. 

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New tax on fuel to dampen economic growth in East Africa: Kenya’s economic growth momentum for this year could be snuffed out if a widely unpopular 16% VAT on fuel is maintained. The High Court has ordered a temporary suspension of the tax.

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The new fuel tax introduced under Finance Bill still under debate. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta opined that the new and unpopular tax on petroleum products is necessary, however it needs to be cut to 8 percent from 16 percent. As such, he rejected parliament’s proposal to postpone the tax altogether. Parliament will reconvene to examine the President’s new proposal.

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Law on Failure to Install Solar Water Heaters has been revoked: The National Assembly of the Republic of Kenya has annulled the Energy (Solar Water Heating) Regulations, 2012 following recommendations from the Parliamentary Select Committee on Delegated Legislation.

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Changes in the Work permit application process: Following administrative and policy changes recommended, the Government of Kenya has directed that all foreigners wishing to work in Kenya should have a work permit approved and issued before they can travel to take up their assignment in the country.

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Update on tax law in Kenya: Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta has proposed hiking taxes on mobile money transfer services and other money transfer services.

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Excise duty rates adjusted higher for inflation: Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has increased excise duty chargeable on a wide range of goods, including juice, water and beer, setting the stage for higher retail prices beginning next month.

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The Competition Amendment Bill, 2018 introduced in Parliament: Parliament will embark debates on proposed insertions under the revised draft Competition Amendment Bill, 2018 (Bill) that introduce national security considerations as part of the Competition Act, 89 of 1998 (the Act). 

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The new Finance Bill 2018 passed alters the tax regime: The new law seeks to propose a number of amendments including; extension of tax amnesty on foreign income, presumptive taxation on the informal sector and Robin Hood taxes on money transferred by banks. As it stands, the High Court, following an application by the Kenya Bankers Association, has suspended implementation of Robin Hood taxes due to ambiguity in the law.

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Kenyan Senate push for changes in extraction bill: Senators have proposed a raft of amendments to legislation that seeks to ensure locals benefit from the extraction industry. The lawmakers want the Local Content Bill, to expressly include governors or County Executive Committee (CEC) members’ in charge of mining among members of the local content development committee.

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Budget cuts to reduce runaway spending: The Treasury announced a Sh55.1 billion cut in government expenditure for the current financial year, in response to a public uproar over high spending and taxation.

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Kenya split over calls to change law before 2022: Mounting calls for a referendum to change the Kenyan Constitution in order to rearrange the executive structure, strengthen devolution and fix election related conflicts have divided political leaders down the middle.

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Bloggers gain upper hand in dispute over Kenya's cybercrime law: Twenty-six sections of Kenya's Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act 2018 will remain suspended until 5 November 2018 when the matter will be placed before Judge Chacha Mwita for directions and continuity of the case.

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Impact of the Finance Act 2018: After much drama, the Finance Act 2018 was finally granted Presidential assent on 21 September 2018.  The new tax provisions will have significant impact on both the cost of living and of doing business in Kenya and some of those effects are already being felt.  The need for these tax increases is driven by two factors: the debt servicing requirement which by all accounts will require almost half of targeted collections and the high government recurring expenditure.

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Update on retirement law: Parliament amended the Law on Retirement Benefits through the Finance Act, 2018 following its enactment on September 21, 2018. Changes specific to the Retirement Benefits Act, 1997 are on non-compliance with the Act and the changes have been back-dated to July 1, 2018.

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Update on Finance Markets law: The draft Financial Markets Conduct Bill, 2018 (the “Bill”) aims to create an effective financial consumer protection environment through the supervision of conduct of providers in relation to retail financial customers. It also proposes to make credit more accessible and support financial innovation and competition, amongst other named purposes.

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Amendments to The Central Bank of Kenya Act, 1966: The Finance Act, 2018 assented to on 21st September 2018, amended the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Act, 1966 to regulate Mortgage Finance Business (the business). The amendments include having new definitions and introduction of new powers to the CBK. These amendments came into effect on 1st October 2018.

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Kenya Suspends the Companies Act 2015: The Act which allowed companies with excess cash to buy back of shares from shareholders. The Capital Markets Authority and the NSE have made a dramatic about turn on the policy after realising that it could hurt the stock market; the courts have implemented the suspension on the advice of the regulators.

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Married women can now inherit their father's property:The Environment and Land Court in Kenya has ruled that married women qualify to inherit properties of their fathers and should not be excluded during distribution. This ruling is contrary to customary law and traditions in Kenya.

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Kenya eyes law to promote recycling of plastics bottles: Kenya is developing a legal framework to promote recycling of PET bottles. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry is in the process of finalizing the Waste Management Bill and Policy aimed at encouraging as many manufactures as possible to partner with the government to improve disposal and recycling of plastic bottles. The proposed law will require the government to put in place measures to reduce the amount of waste generated and, where waste is generated, to ensure that waste is re-used, recycled and recovered in an environmentally-sound manner. In May, the ministry, the National Environment and Management Authority (NEMA) and Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) signed a framework of cooperation on a take back scheme for PET bottles.

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Update on the Insurance Amendment Bill 2018:  Insurance brokers in Kenya are of the opinion that the Insurance Amendment Bill 2018 is punitive and will kill the sector. The Association of Insurance Brokers of Kenya (AIBK) chairman Nelson Omollo said if passed, it will lead to job losses and closure of businesses. In the proposed bill, customers will be able to submit their premiums directly to insurance companies. Under the current arrangement, brokers collect premiums from customers to the insurance companies. This link has been removed in the new amendment.

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Update on the Data Protection Bill: The Taskforce appointed by Government to develop Kenya’s policy and regulatory framework for privacy and data protection has made significant progress. The finalised draft of the Data Protection Policy and Bill (both published in August 2018 by the Ministry of ICT) is expected to address many of the concerns raised during the public participation phase, consisting of written submissions and public discussions. The Taskforce hosted public discussions on 3 October and has worked having a final version of the Policy and Bill ready for debate by the Senate and the National Assembly.

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 Ruling Postponed: Judges in Kenya have postponed the long-awaited landmark ruling that could have decriminalised homosexuality. The ruling was due to have taken place on Friday 22ndFebruary 2019 but has been postponed to May 2019. 

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Liberia

Update on land law: Liberia has passed a landmark law (The Land Rights Act) after four years of debate in the legislature, that will help communities fight foreign land grabs by giving them ownership of ancestral territory.

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Update on budget law: The National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections (NAYMOTE) have begun holding consultations with a group of youthful lawmakers for the crafting and subsequent enactment of a ‘stand-alone’ County Social Development Fund (CSDF)Law. The management of the CSDF is embedded in section Nine of the new Budget law of Liberia.

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Legislature Gave Central Bank ‘Absolute Authority’ to Print Additional Banknotes: In a July 19, 2017 communication, the Senate authorized the Central Bank of Liberia to completely replace the legacy liberty banknotes with the newly printed banknotes introduced in 2016 in order to harmonize the Liberian currency. This might exonerate former Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks from allegations that he printed extra L$10 billion without the acquiescence of the Legislature.

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Female Lawyers Want ‘Cohabitation Bill’ Passed into Law: The Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) has commended the government of Liberia headed by President George Weah for signing into law, the Land Rights Act without delay. AFELL also wants the passage of the ‘Cohabitation Bill’.

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Liberia's first Legal Aid Clinic: The Liberia National Bar Association has launched the first Legal Aid Clinic, it is the first since the country was established in 1984. The clinic aims to provide legal services and representation to indigents. 

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Proposed legislation set to run rogue contractors out of town: A proposed law in the construction sector could end lucrative careers for rogue contractors, who are blamed for the now common deaths after buildings collapse. The Bill places them in a tight corner because it will be mandatory that every company has a built-environment professional (an architect or a quantity surveyor) as a senior partner or director. To enhance uniformity of building standards, the Bill proposes merging of professional regulatory boards to enhance supervision as well as come up with a single manual on regulations given that a multiplicity of boards is a major cause for confusion.

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Libya

Potential UN Security Council Sanctions in Response to Slavery and Human Trafficking: In Libya After public outrage and indignation regarding the modern-day slavery and human trafficking occurring in Libya, the UN Security Council discuss sanctions and use of the ICC against individuals and entities.

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Madagascar

Update on oil and gas:  The Government has announced opening of Madagascar licensing bidding round at Africa Oil Week from 5th to 9th November 2018.

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Malawi 

Witchcraft Act: The Malawi Law Commission has started a review of the Witchcraft Act after receiving submissions from individuals and organisations over its shortcomings. The review seeks to address the gaps in the law that have resulted in the failure to protect Malawians from witchcraft and suspects of witchcraft from unfair prosecution.

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Update on the Access to Information (ATI) Law : The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)-Malawi Chapter has asked Malawi government to implement the Access to Information (ATI) Law.

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Mauritius

 Mauritius is the first jurisdiction globally to offer a regulated landscape for cryptocurrency custodians. Mauritius International Financial Centre (IFC) claims that Mauritius is the first jurisdiction globally to offer a regulatory landscape for the custody of digital assets. Mauritius will soon license digital asset custodians as part of its plans to create a fintech hub. This is according to communication from the country's integrated regulator for the non-bank financial services sector and global business, the Financial Services Commission (FSC).  This is as a result of the FSC’s published draft rules vide a consultation paper on the ‘Regulatory Framework for the Custodian Services (digital asset) license’. This regulatory framework will be effective as from 1st March 2019 by way of a Gazette Notice.  

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Update on taxation law: Proposals to alter the Mauritian tax regime following reading of the 2018/2019 budget to alter taxation of corporations with global business licenses underway.

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Mauritius champions a single cyber law for Africa:  Mauritius' focus on legislation and innovation has positioned the country as one of only a few outside Europe to feature data protection laws in line with the recently enacted GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations).

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New type of worker recognized in the amended Employment Rights Act: Recent amendments to Mauritius’ Employment Rights Act (“ERA”) have brought about regulation into an area of employment law that many foreign jurisdictions have struggled to deal with. In terms of these amendments, a new type of worker has been recognised within the employment law legislative framework: the homeworker.

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Morocco

New Violence against Women Law: Morocco has adopted a new law on violence against women. The new law criminalizes some forms of domestic violence, establishes prevention measures and provides new protection for survivor.

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Tax break from corporate tax: Industrial companies have been exempted from corporate tax for 5years to stimulate growth in investments in sectors such as textile, automotive, manufacturing and aeronautical.

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Update on oil and gas: The Moroccan Ministry of Energy has awarded Sound Energy, the Morocco-focused upstream gas company, a production concession relating to the Tendrara gas discovery in the eastern province of the country.

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Mozambique

Mozambique criminalises child marriages: On July 24, 2019, the Mozambican government passed the Law on Prevention and Combat of Premature Unions. This new law criminalizes girl child marriages. Any individual who officiates or authorizes underage marriages will be sentenced to imprisonment for at least two to eight years.

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Mozambique Plans Constitutional Reforms: The Mozambican President announced plans for changes in the Country’s constitution to decentralize power.

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  • Click here to view the Constitution of Mozambique.

Update on contract law: Mozambique’s government has approved contracts giving exclusive rights to energy companies to act on concessions awarded to them to explore for oil following four years of negotiations and delays that threatened to derail the projects.

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Namibia

Proposed Black-Ownership Law by Year-EndNamibia plans to pass laws to better distribute wealth among its citizens, most of whom are black, by the end of 2018. The proposed bill outlines six areas to increase black citizens’ participation in business.

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Namibian Competition Commission Publishes Corporate Leniency Programme: The Namibian Competition Commission (NaCC) has adopted a Corporate Leniency Programme (CLP), effective from 12 October 2018, allowing for the lenient treatment of self-confessing cartel members in certain circumstances.

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Nigeria

Nigeria's Buhari Signs Law to Increase Minimum Wage - Aide:  The change means the minimum monthly wage will rise to 30,000 naira ($98) from 18,000 now, said aide Ita Enang, a senior special assistant to the president on the National Assembly.  

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Civil Society Coalition Tasks FG to Sign Police Reform Bill into Law: President Muhammadu Buhari has been tasked to expeditiously assent to the recently passed Nigeria Police Reform Bill 2019 by the Senate.

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Digital Rights Bill submitted to the President for assent. On 5 February 2019, Nigeria's National Assembly transmitted the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent. The Bill, which had been in Parliament since 2016, was passed by both chambers of the Parliament in 2018.

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Lagos State established Small Claims Court: The Small Claims Court was established with the objective of providing easy access to an informal, inexpensive and speedy resolution of simple debt recovery disputes in the Magistrates’ Courts. The establishment of the court is a significant step towards further enhancement of the process for settlement of commercial disputes, involving small claims not exceeding Five Million Naira (N5,000,000 Naira) in the State.

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Nigerian senate passes new Companies and Allied Matters Act into law: The Nigerian Senate has put in place a regulatory framework to promote the ease of doing business, reduce regulatory hurdles, support small scale industries, promote innovations, and encourage enterprise.

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Senate initiates two bills to fight drug abuse: The proposed bills are the National Drug Control Bill and the National Mental Health Bill. The drug control bill will focus on proactive law enforcement and regulatory measures towards the eradication of the illicit production and trafficking of controlled substances while the mental health bill will guarantee the rights of persons with mental health illnesses.

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Framework Agreement for the Establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area to be Signed: The Nigerian Federal Executive Council has given its approval for the establishment of a free trade zone. The agreement will be finalised during a meeting of African Union Heads of States and Government to be held in March 2018. 

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Bill to Tackle Money Laundering and Terrorism Funding Passed into Law: The National Assembly has passed into law a bill to make Nigeria’s National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) autonomous in order to tackle money laundering more effectively. This comes after threat from the Egmont group (a body of Financial Intelligence Units across the world) to delist Nigeria unless the local unit gained autonomy.

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Hate Speech Offenders to Die by Hanging: A new hate speech bill has proposed death by hanging for any person guilty of any form of hate speech that results in the death of another.

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Anti-Torture Act 2017: The Nigerian President has signed the Anti-Torture Act into law. The law penalizes acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

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Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshot Act, 2017: This act stipulates that a person with a gunshot wound shall be received for immediate and adequate treatment by any hospital in Nigeria with or without an initial monetary deposit and without any clearance from the police.

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Buhari Signs 8 New Bills into Law: On 26 January 2018, President Buhari signed 8 new bills into law, including the National Senior Citizens Centre Act, 2018, the Legislative Houses (Power and Privileges), 2018 and the National Institute of Legislative Studies (Amendment) Act, 2018.

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  • Click here to view Railway Loan (International Bank) (Repeal) Act 2017 
  • Click here to view National Institute for Legislative Studies (Amendment) Act, 2017
  • Click here to view Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act 2017
  • Click here to view Chartered Institute of Project Managers of Nigeria Establishment Act 2017
  • Click here to view Chartered Institute of Local Government and Public Administration Act, 2017
  • Click here to view Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Kingdom of Spain (Domestication and Enforcement) Act, 2017

Executive Order to Boost Domestic Production and Jobs: President Muhammadu Buhari has signed an executive order aimed at boosting the domestic production of goods and creating jobs in science, technology and engineering in Nigeria.

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Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission - Regulations on Eligible Customers: Under a May 2017 policy declaration, successor electricity Generation Companies (Gencos) and Independent Power Producers (IPPs) would be able to by-pass the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc and sell electricity directly to Eligible Customers. Since such declaration, there has been uncertainty as to the manner of its implementation and its overall effect on the NESI.

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Nigerian Petroleum Law (Petroleum Industry Governance Bill 2017): First introduced in 2008, the Nigerian Petroleum Industry Bill has continuously undergone reform. Major changes include creating effective and separate governing institutions for Nigeria’s petroleum industry.

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  • Click here to view ‘Report of the senate joint committee on the petroleum industry governance bill 2017’ including the complete bill passed by senate.
  • Click here for Q&A on Oil & Gas regulation 2017 in Nigeria by the contributing firm Bloomfield Law Practice.

Update on regional law: Government explains Nigeria’s withdrawal from African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Among other reasons, this withdrawal would give the Government time to consult with key stakeholders in the country.

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Update on oil and gas: Remarkable growth in the oil and gas sector following enactment of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act in 2010.

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The Federal Government abolishes Fining of Nigerians with Dual Citizenship: The federal government has directed the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), to with immediate effect, put an end to the payment of fines by Nigerians holding dual citizenship at the nation's International Airports.

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Update on regional law and energy development: Nigeria among other countries to benefit from Eni S.p.A and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) energy development deal signed on 21th September 2018 aimed at boosting access to sustainable energy in Africa.

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Rwanda

Consumption tax rate law on beer and wine passed: In Rwanda, Members of Parliament passed a draft law that Finance Minister Uzziel Ndagijimana presented to parliament earlier this month that reduces the consumption tax rate on beers and wines made using locally produced raw materials.

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Rwanda ratifies the A.U. free trade pact: Rwanda becomes the third African country to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfcFTA) deal. The signing of the AfCFTA is seen as only a step in chasing an ambitious dream of uniting Africa at the level of commerce.

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New Law to Govern Faith-Based Organizations: The Rwandan government is reviewing the existing laws regulating churches and mosques to address irregularities and other inappropriate activities amongst religious groups.

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Senate Back Ratification of Three Extradition Treaties: These three extradition treaties between Rwanda and each of Ethiopia, Malawi and Zambia are part of efforts to bring genocide fugitives located in these countries to account.

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Proposed Bill Seeking to Ease Cross-Border Movement: A new law has been proposed in Rwanda regarding immigration and emigration in Rwanda aimed at facilitating cross border movements of people living in border communities.

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Law Against Single-Use Plastics Pending Cabinet Approval: The Ministry of Environment has tabled a draft law which seeks to ban single-use plastics in Rwanda to cabinet, Sunday Times has established.

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The New Rwandan Labour Code: a mixed bag of pro-employer and pro-employee changes: Effective from 6 September 2018, Rwanda’s New Labour Code (law n° 66/2018 of 30/08/2018 regulating labour in Rwanda) repealed law n° 13/2009 of 27/05/2009 regulating labour in Rwanda (the Repealed Labour Code”), which has been in force for over nine years. The new law proposes changes in disciplinary sanctions, probation period, employment contracts, right of reinstatement among others.

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Senegal

 MPs pass bill to fund candidate for president: Senegalese MPs voted in favour of a bill that would allow the state to fund candidates running in future presidential elections.

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Senegal adopts legislation to harmonise Africa business law: The Senegalese National Assembly has adopted a draft law in furtherance of the harmonization of business law in Africa.

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Replacement of the 1998 Petroleum Code: The new code, expected in 2018, is part of the country's commercial strategy and is meant to promote Senegal's oil & gas sector domestically.

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Somalia

Somalia Presidential Elections: Although the country's original vote was scheduled for July 2015, Somaliland will finally hold its presidential election on Monday, 20 November, 2017.

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  • Click here to view article on Somali political debates.
  • Click here to view "Five Things You Need To Know About Somaliland’s Vote."

South Africa

Proposed new smoking laws spark fiery debate:  

New smoking laws in South Africa might seek to protect both smokers and non-smokers, but some organisations believe the new legislation will result in a spike in criminal activity and millions of people going hungry. Government and civil rights organisations stand firm in their belief that the vulnerable, including young children, need to be safeguarded against the serious and often deadly effects of tobacco and related products.

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South Africa’s Copyright Amendment Bill: Its Genesis And Passage Through Parliament:  The reform of copyright law in South Africa, particularly for the library and educational sectors, has been a long and bumpy road since 1998. Our copyright law is 41 years old – and broken! The exceptions for education, research, and libraries and archives have not been amended since 1978. The Act has no provisions for people with disabilities, nor provisions for galleries and museums. Being so old, it obviously does not address the digital world. “Fair dealing” in Section 12 of the Act is outdated, limited and not ‘future-proof’.  

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New laws threaten South African banks and the economy: Nedbank CEO

The past year has seen the introduction of some legislation that – despite good intent – could threaten the sustainability of the banking industry and the wider economy, says Nedbank CEO Mike Brown. Brown presented his report as chairman of the Banking Association South Africa (BASA) on Tuesday (30 April).  

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The right to die remains a complex and disputed issue in South African law

Although on the face of it South Africa’s Bill of Rights supports the constitutional right to die through its clauses on life and dignity, recent judgments have left a question mark over the actual legal position. Do we, in fact, have a constitutional right to euthanasia? 

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Legalizing Cannabis Use: Ethical and Legal Considerations:  The recent awarding of a license by medicines regulator, SAHPRA, to a local company to cultivate cannabis for medicinal purposes could pave the way for South Africa to be a leading international marketplace for medical grade marijuana.  

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Maternity leave: How South Africa compares globally: In the last few months, amendments to South Africa’s labour law has focussed a lot on paternal leave and its changes. It’s a progressive step, but maternity leave is still at the top end of benefits many companies use to lure some of the country’s brightest minds to their organisations.

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Amendment to Companies Act & MA

In 2018 much was said about the adverse impact of political uncertainty and a sluggish economy on M&A activity in South Africa. More recently, industry commentators have noted a likely increase in the total value of M&A transactions in 2019 followed by a potential decline for a period of two years in line with the global economic cycle.

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The Traditional Courts Bill will enable concentration of power in one individual – a traditional leader. The Traditional Courts Bill was approved by the National Assembly on 12 March 2018. This article discusses the place of customary law in South Africa and points out that this bill leads to various problematic legal issues, against the backdrop of a questionable agenda.

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South Africa: International arbitration comparative guide. This article provides brief details on the International Arbitration Act 15 of 2017. To read more, please click

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South Africa goes ahead with expat tax. South Africa has confirmed that it is forging ahead with its plans to introduce an ‘expat tax' amendment to the South African Income Tax Act by March 2020. At the moment, South Africans working abroad for more than 183 days (of which 60 days are consecutive) were able to earn income free of South African tax. However, with the amendment, South Africans will be required to pay tax in SA of up to 45% of their foreign employment income once it exceeds R1 million (approximately $75,000) per annum.

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Law change will make it illegal to charge for adoption services. A debate is raging over a proposed amendment to the Child Care Act that would outlaw charging fees for adoption services. The amendment is expected to be passed by the end of the year, as part of a number of changes to the Act.

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Impending Impact of The National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill (NEMLA) in the regulation of financial provisions and rehabilitations in the mining sector.The Bill was passed by the National Assembly in late 2018 and is currently being considered by the National Council of Provinces. The changes proposed by NEMLA IV will go a long way to align the regulation of financial provisioning under NEMA with the soon-to-be-published revised financial provisioning regulations. Of significance, will be the provision for progressive rehabilitation concurrent with mining activities. These proposed amendments allow mining companies to reduce the amount of money required to be set aside for final rehabilitation.

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South Africa Approves New IP Policy: The cabinet’s approval of the policy has set in motion an administrative process which will lead to the publication of the finalized policy in the government gazette.

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How the GDPR affects every domain registrar and reseller in South Africa:  The new internet data privacy protocol has been developed to protect people in the EU from data vulnerabilities, companies that fails to comply will be fined up to 20-million euros or 4% of thrir annual turnover.

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National Kitten, Avarian and Dog Levy Amendment: The South African Government has pushed through a last-minute tax on pets which will see pet owners pay a monthly levy for domesticated animals in their care.

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Insurance Law 2018: The new South African Insurance Act provides a consolidated legal framework for the supervision of the insurance sector which is consistent with international standards.

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South Africa Traffic Laws: The South African road traffic bill called the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) which passed into law in September 2017 has received criticism from some quarters for its apparent inconsistency with the rule of law.

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  • Click here to view all you need to know about the  AARTO

Proposed Carbon Tax law: Plans are being made by the South African government to enact carbon tax laws in 2019. This move is being opposed by big energy users for fear that the tax will erode profits and drive up electricity prices.

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Liquor Amendment Bill: This bill proposes banning the supply of liquor and methylated spirits to persons under the age of 21.

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Proposed Law to Outlaw Compensation for Reclaimed Land: South African lawmakers have agreed to pass a law to reclaim land taken away from Africans by white settlers without paying compensation

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Mining Charter: South Africa's mining charter to be finalized in three months. The government of new President Cyril Ramaphosa has said it will negotiate the latest charter with mining companies, prompting the Chamber of Mines to suspend its legal challenge

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Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act: The South African POPI Act, which was signed into law in 2013 is expected to become fully effective in the second half of 2018. The law imposes requirements on holders of personal data to guard against unauthorized access.

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Arbitration Act 2017: The South Africa’s new arbitration law has come into effect. The law incorporates the UNCITRAL model law, described as the gold standard for domestic and international arbitration.

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General Regulation Relating to Bonusing in relation to the Medicine and Related Substances Act: The South African Minister for Health has called for public comment on the Draft General Regulation relating to bonusing, which aims to flesh out the Section of the Medicine Act that prohibits the supply of medicine subject to a bonus, rebate or other incentive schemes.

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  • Click here to view the draft regulations. 

Competition Amendment Bill 2017: A new competition law to extend the powers of the Competition Commission in matters relating to prohibited practices, market inquiries, procedural changes, mergers and acquisitions etc. is under consideration in South Africa. The extent of these new powers is of concern to many because of its potential to be abused for political gains; there are not adequate policies guiding interpretation and application of the law.

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Upcoming Climate Change Legislation: Climate change legislation is to be introduced in South Africa by 2018. Such legislation will require the Departmental of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to implement climate change assessment procedures as a precondition to the opening of any coal-powered stations.

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New Merger Notification Thresholds and Filing Fees: As of 1 October 2017, new merger notification thresholds and filing fees apply to mergers that are compulsorily notifiable to the South African Competition Commission.

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Labour Laws Amendment Bill: The National Assembly passed the Labour Laws Amendment Bill on 28 November, 2017 granting parental leave to same-sex couples, adoptive and surrogate parents and giving fathers at least 10 days’ paternity leave. The Bill has yet to become law as it is awaiting President Zuma’s signature.

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  • Click here to view the Labour Relations Amendment Bill.

Proposed Changes to Criminal Law (Sexual Offenses and Related Matters): A report published by the High Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change has proposed recommendations to change the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Act 32 of 2007 to decriminalise prostitution.

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Possible “Reserve Price” (Minimum Price) for Residential Property of Defaulting Owners: A change in the law coming to effect in the near future will prevent the abuse of homeowners who are unable to pay their debt.

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South Africa’s plan to change the Constitution, a move to strengthen property rights: Pressure to change the Constitution to allow the government to expropriate land without compensation is currently the country’s most contentious issue.

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Update on taxation laws: South Africa publishes the 2018 Draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill and 2018 Draft Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill and invites public participation on the proposed amendments.

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South African Breweries (SAB) AB INBEV Signs Guidelines for Good Business Practice by South African Companies Operating in Africa: The guidelines are a voluntary set of principles and standards that seek to ensure that the operations of various South African businesses abroad are in compliance with the laws of the countries in which they operate in.

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Private cannabis use legalized: Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, delivered the Johannesburg-based Constitutional Court's unanimous verdict that the law banning marijuana use in private by adults "is unconstitutional and therefore invalid".

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Implications of legalization of adult private and personal use of cannabis on employment: Given that the Cannabis judgment does not strictly locate private to an adult person’s home or private dwelling, the implications for the workplace should be considered, more so in relation to discipline, incapacity, occupation health and safety and vicarious liability within the context of drug (cannabis) use and abuse.

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Update on oil and mining: South Africa has withdrawn its long-delayed draft legislation for the mining and petroleum industries and plans to come up with separate laws to govern the two sectors.

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Update on the law of privileges: UK Court of Appeal confirms professional privilege protection for lawyers’ notes, good news for South African multinational companies with an interest in the UK.

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Update on company law: The new South African Companies Amendment Bill has been promulgated for public comment.

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Update on Immigration laws: South Africa will ease some immigration rules, including agreeing visa waiver agreements with more countries, in a bid to boost investment and tourism.

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South Africa's Ramaphosa outlines stimulus plan for ailing economy: South Africa’s president has announced a multi-billion-dollar stimulus programme, earmarking funds for job creation and infrastructure development as he seeks to make good on a pledge to revive the country’s ailing economy.

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Parliament canvasses views on proposed new law governing estate agents: Members of Parliament (MPs) are set to continue engagements with stakeholders on a new bill (The Property Practioner’s Bill is aimed at repealing the 1976 Estate Agency Affairs Board Act) which will regulate the property industry in South Africa.

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South Africa keeps 30% black ownership target in mining charter: Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe unveiled a raft of changes to a controversial mining bill which is to raise black ownership of mining companies from 26% to 30%. This is intended to transform the key industry and address long-standing racial inequality in the sector.

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Law firms see benefits of gazetted Mining Charter 3, MPRDA amendment Bill removal: Webber Wentzel partner and mining sector head, Jonathan Veeran pointed out that to effect the necessary changes that are needed for South Africa’s economy to grow, government and industry will, moving forward, have to focus on economic assessments, instead of policy development.

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Update on legalization of Cannabis: The South African Police Service (SAPS) has confirmed that it issued an internal directive on the use and possession of cannabis.

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Update on regional extradition laws: UAE and South Africa have signed two extradition and legal assistance agreements. The agreements were signed by Sultan bin Saeed Al Badi Al Dhaheri, Minister of Justice and Michael Masutha, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services of South Africa.

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Update on the South African Companies Amendment Bill 2018: The Bill was published on 21 September 2018 for comment. Substantial changes to the South African Companies Act 2008 (Companies Act), which became law in 2011, have been proposed. Comments may be submitted to the South Africa Department of Trade and Industry by 20 November 2018.

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New visa rules could see long-term foreign residents having to leave South Africa: Changes to new immigrant legislation could mean that many long-term foreign residents are no longer eligible to remain in South Africa.

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Cannabis may be legal, but it is not permitted in the workplace: The Occupational Health and Safety Act specifically says no employer may allow any person to enter or remain in the workplace if they appear to be under the influence of liquor or drugs, or to be in possession of, partake in or offer others intoxicating liquor or drugs. This injunction is far-reaching and is in no way negated or changed by the court ruling.

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Six things you need to know about the Mining Charter III: On 27 September 2018, the Minister of Mineral Resources (Minister) published the long-awaited Mining Charter III for implementation. Therefore, Mining Charter III is now applicable to the minerals industry and has replaced/repealed both the Mining Charter II and the ill-fated 2017 Mining Charter which was never implemented.

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Additional clauses of the Copyright Amendment Bill awaiting public comment: Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry is calling for public comments on additional clauses of the Bill. Among the contents of the bill is the definition of certain words and expressions, the provision of the protection of copyright in artistic work and to provide for access to copyright works by persons with disabilities.

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Sugar Industry Regulations gazetted: Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry has welcomed the gazetting of the Sugar Industry Regulations on transitional arrangements in terms of the Constitution of the South African Sugar Association (Sasa) and the Sugar Industry Agreement.

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Update on the Employment Equity (EE) Amendment Bill: The Bill and Regulations is proposing the establishment of sectoral targets to enable employers to transform workplaces and the establishment of 18 sectors as per the classification published by Statistics South Africa.

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New Act, new council, new Bar:  As the Legal Practice Act is about to come into effect, a new advocates’ association is being formed after years of wrangling and compromises. The new Legal Practice Council is due to begin its work on November 1. The new Bar, the Pan-African Bar Association of South Africa (Pabasa), will be the first advocates’ association formed under the auspices of the new Act, and will exist alongside the already established Bars.

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Update on environmental law as Cabinet approves Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) Cabinet has approved the declaration of 20 MPAs as part of the Operation Phakisa: Ocean Economy MPAs Representative Network. The acting Environmental Affairs Minister Derek Hanekom, welcomed the announcement, saying that it would increase ocean protection within the South African Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to 5% and it will considerably advance South Africa's efforts to protect its ocean heritage for future generations.

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Update on VAT tax and carbon tax: The government proposes that come April 2019, three items, including sanitary pads, bread and cake flour will be added to the zero-rated list. This is after value-added tax (VAT) was increased from 14% to 15%.  Meanwhile, after hearing the concerns of business and labour during Parliamentary hearings, the implementation of the Carbon Tax has been postponed by six months.

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South African National Assembly Passes the Revised Competition Amendment Bill: The South African Competition Amendment Bill, 2017 is a step closer to becoming operational. During its plenary sitting on 23 October 2018, the South African National Assembly passed a revised version of the Bill. Despite its progress, however, the Bill is not yet operational. The next step is its referral to the National Counsel of Provinces (“NCOP”) and a further opportunity for stakeholder submissions. If the NCOP accepts the Bill as presented, it will be sent to the president for signature, after which it will be passed into law.

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Update on the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Bill, 2018: The Bill was on 18 October 2018 published for public comment. In terms of the Notice that accompanied the Bill, written representations on the proposed amendments may be furnished within 60 days of publication of the notice.

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Major immigration law changes to hit South Africa hard: Ahead of the implementation of new immigration laws and the release of a severely shortened critical skills list, South Africa’s Home Affairs Department appears to be pre-emptively clamping down on immigration and undermining efforts to encourage foreign direct investment (FDI). This is according to immigration expert, Stefanie de Saude-Darbandi, who noted that a new Bill on International Migration is expected to be available for comment in March 2019, and a new critical skills list intended to be implemented in April 2019.

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Update on Crypto Currency regulation: In a bid to regulate the use of Crypto Currency, they have now been recategorized from digital currencies to “financial instruments” in the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill. The South African Reserve Bank has also removed the ability for cryptocurrency development businesses from claiming significant tax deductions. 

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LexisNexis comments on seven regulatory changes that took place in South Africa in 2018 that are set to impact the rule of law and a variety of sectors this year.  

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The South African government has introduced a new legislation in response to the rapid climate risks heightened by the large emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs) — the Carbon Tax becomes effective on 1 June 2019.

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IAAF are acused of Human Rights violations: The South African government accuses IAAF of Human Rights violation  due its new rules. The rules stipulate that female runners with naturally high testosterone levels will have to race against men unless they take medication to lower their levels. 

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The Competition Act has been signed into Law: The Competition Act has been signed into law by South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa. The Act addresses issues of economic concentration and prohibited practices among others. The Act will come into operation on a date that is yet to be determined by the President but is viewed as a step in the right direction for competition law in Africa. 

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Sudan

The Republic of South Sudan to release new local content regulations: The Republic of South Sudan is joining the ranks of countries like Ghana, Angola, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea in establishing a solid local content framework to build its domestic capacity and provide more opportunities to its citizens.

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Tanzania

TANZANIA: New law bans plastic bags: Tanzania has recently prohibited the import, production, sale and use of plastic bags. The law signed to this effect came into force on June 1, 2019. As a result of this measure, Tanzania becomes the 34th African country to ban plastic on its territory.

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Tanzania reconsiders harsh media laws. Tanzania’s Information Minister Harrison Mwakyembe said that his government is open to reviewing the controversial Media Services Act, which has been criticised by journalists and rights groups as a violation of the right to freedom of expression.

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Tanzania to ban plastic bags by July. Tanzanian has announced that it will ban single-use polythene bags from June in the war against plastic pollution.Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa told parliament in Dodoma this week that polythene bags will no longer be used for commercial purposes or household packaging and warned producers and suppliers to dispose of their stocks.

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Tanzanian parliament approved a Bill designed to relieve small-scale miners of the burden of paying withholding tax of 5 per cent and 18 per cent value added tax. The reforms in Tanzania’s mining sector have come as a boon for the small-scale miners, as the government has set its sights on multinational firms, on whom it has placed a heavier tax burden. The changes seem to have spared artisanal miners as the government seeks more revenue from the big players to raise the sector’s contribution to GDP from 4.8 per cent to 10 per cent by 2025.

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Tanzania rolls out vehicle load control in line with EAC law. After a false start earlier in the year, Tanzania is finally implementing the East African Community Vehicle Load Control Act, 2016. The government has confirmed that all systems, including installation of automated weighing scales at weighbridges, are ready to allow for the implementation of the legislation from March 1. The Vehicle Load Control Act came into force two months ago, but Tanzania deferred its enforcement to March 1, after it became apparent that the system was not fully in place.

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Tanzania MPs grant government sweeping powers over political parties. Tanzania’s parliament passed amendments to legislation that gives sweeping powers to a government-appointed registrar over political parties. The amendments give a government-run registrar sweeping powers to de-register parties and provide for up to a year in jail for anyone engaging in unauthorized civic education - for example, a voter registration drive.

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Paris Climate Agreement: The Tanzania Parliament has endorsed the ratification of the Paris climate agreement, making Tanzania the 176th country aiming to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change by cutting carbon emissions. Tanzania is one of the championing countries in environmental conservation.

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New Mining Law: The Tanzanian new mining Law compels foreign companies to boost local financial firms. The new law gives companies 3 months to comply with the regulations while also making them apprise the government of how they are enacting these changes.

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New Tanzanian Oil and Gas Legislation: The Tanzanian government has enacted new legislation with a view to bringing its oil and gas industry up-to-date.  These new laws are contained within:

  • The Petroleum Act 2015: The aim of the Petroleum Act is to modernise the regulatory framework of the Tanzanian petroleum industry. It will create the Tanzanian Petroleum Upstream Regulatory Authority and the Oil and Gas Bureau, both of which will have specialists who will guide the government in its negotiations with the IOCs it contracts with, and in its regulatory functions.  Click here to view the full petroleum Act 2015.
  • The Tanzania Extractive Industry (Transparency and Accountability) Act: This Act provides that all concessions, contracts, and licenses that relate to the extractive industries are to be published. Noncompliance will result in a criminal offense resulting in a company fine of Tshs 150 million (approx. US$75,000). Click here to view full Act.
  • The Oil and Gas Revenues Management Act 2015: This Act will establish the Oil and Gas fund. The fund will be responsible for maintaining fiscal and macroeconomic stability, enhancing social and economic development, amongst other things. Click here to view full Act.
  • Click here for a brief article on the three Acts.
  • Click here to view article on the impact of the new laws

Arbitration law: Tanzania has passed a new law banning international arbitration as a method for resolving investor-state disputes with the country.

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Tanzania law punishing critics of statistics "deeply concerning" according to the World Bank: The World Bank said it was deeply concerned about new Tanzanian legislation which would punish anyone who questions official statistics, saying the law would undermine the production of useful and high quality data.

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Tunisia

Anti-racial discrimination law: Tunisia is to become the second African country to legally prohibit racial discrimination as it is set to have an anti-racial discrimination law before the end of May.

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Law on Eliminating Violence Against Women: The Law on Eliminating Violence Against Women, which was approved by Tunisia’s parliament in 2017, has now entered into force. The law makes every form of violence against women illegal. Until the passage of this law, there had been no specific law on domestic violence in Tunisia.

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New counterterrorism law may curb freedoms: The National Registry for Enterprises would limit activities for many key civil society organizations. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, appealed for exemptions in appropriate cases. His appeal was however ignored.

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Tunisia parliament adopts anti-racism law: Tunisia's parliament has adopted a law criminalising racist speech, incitement to hatred and discrimination, in a vote hailed as a historic first in a country with a significant black minority.

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Uganda

Government approves bill to regulate tenants and landlords: The Ugandan government has approved legislation to regulate the relationship between landlords and tenants in the housing sector. The new law seeks to reform and consolidate the existing law relating to the letting of premises as well as balance the responsibilities of landlords and tenants.

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New Islamic Banking Regulations to increase financial inclusion in Uganda: The Bank of Uganda recently released the Financial Institutions (Islamic Banking) Regulations which seeks to operationalize Islamic banking in the country. With this development, Uganda joins several African countries that have sought to develop the sector to expand financial access and inclusion among rural communities.

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New Online Mining Licensing System: The Directorate of Geological Surveys and Mines (DGSM) in Uganda is in the process of updating its mining cadaster to an e-government-based mineral licensing system. This arrangement will allow for all statutory processes to be carried out online.

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Micro-insurance Law: The Insurance Regulatory Authority is in the final stages of drafting Rules and Regulations for governing Micro Insurance in Uganda. This law will increase penetration by allowing low income earners access insurance products at minimal costs.

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Update on Presidential Age Limit: The Ugandan Parliament has finally voted in favour of eliminating the presidential age limit of 75 years.

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Ugandan Biosafety Law (The National Biosafety Act 2017): Uganda has enacted a controversial biosafety law, which allows for the use of GMOs. Scientists say the new law will allow them to conduct in-depth research and take advantage of the multi-locational biotech field trials.

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Legislators say The National Biosafety Act will regulate the use of GMOs in agriculture and public health and protect the public from consuming dangerous or unsafe biotechnology products.

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New taxation on social media outrages human rights activists in Uganda prompting them to move to Court to challenge the tax: According to the petition, the tax limits basic human rights and negatively affects businesses thus unconstitutional.

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Update on finance regulations: The Financial Intelligence Authority has in accordance with its mandate under the Anti- Money Laundering Act 2013 issued a notice requiring all accountable persons including advocates, notaries, accountants, casinos, real estate agents, financial institutions, insurance providers, NGOs, churches and other charitable organizations, trusts among others to comply with the registration requirement under the Act by 30th October 2018.

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Update on Freedom of Expression: Uganda’s government is proposing to enact regulations curtailing freedom of expression by vetting new songs and literary works of artists before release. Critics say that this move is aimed at discouraging negative comments about the authorities who are threatened by the popularity of artists such as Bobi Wine.Uganda’s government is proposing to enact regulations curtailing freedom of expression by vetting new songs and literary works of artists before release. Critics say that this move is aimed at discouraging negative comments about the authorities who are threatened by the popularity of artists such as Bobi Wine.

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Woman choses to undergo FGM illegally: A  26 year old Ugandan woman has chosen to break  Ugandan law prohibiting Female Genital Mutilation by opting to undergo the procedure. Sylvia Yeko has expressed that she was proud to be able to do so despite the possibility of a five year sentence.

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Zambia

Zambia Association in South Africa (ZASA) signs MoU with South African Law firm: ZASA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a leading South African Law firm that will help provide legal representations to Zambians facing Police or Immigration related challenges.

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Update on tax law: Zambia hikes mining taxes in 2019 budget to rein in debt.

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Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe to repeal controversial equity law: Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Mthuli  Ncube said that an equity law blamed for scaring off foreign investors would be abolished as the country seeks to woo fresh capital to shore up its moribund economy. Presenting the mid-term 2019 budget to parliament, Ncube said the so-called Indigenisation Act which requires foreign companies to give shareholdings of up to 51% in joint ventures to local partners would be repealed.

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Mining firms elated as Govt scraps equity laws: PLATINUM miming firms have expressed delight at reports that Government intends to lift the 51/49 equity ownership requirements on the platinum mining industry, noting that if promulgated into law, the decision will drive investment into the sector.

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New Zim bill 'copied' from Mugabe-era security law, warns watchdog

A new bill set to replace the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) gives the president of Zimbabwe, instead of the country's defence minister, sole authority to deploy soldiers for civilian policing.

Zimbabwe's military emerged from their barracks twice to quell public riots - in August 2018 and January 2019. 

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Zimbabwe legalizes marijuana for medical and scientific use: Zimbabwe has become the second African country to legalize marijuana for medical and scientific purposes. Individuals and businesses can now apply for licenses to cultivate cannabis for medicinal or scientific use.

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Bond notes may be scrapped by the new Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube: The quasi currency bond notes introduced in November 2016 to ease acute shortages of cash may be scrapped by the new Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister. Scrapping the bond notes is aimed at liberalizing exchange controls as part of reforms he plans to implement by end of this year.

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Zimbabwe's new finance minister tables 'fiscal shock' as an economy reform strategy: Zimbabwean Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube would like to employ a “big bang” economic reform program to the battered economy where. This is also in a bid to deal with problems facing the country, more so lack of foreign investment, fiscal deficits and acute shortages of hard currencies like the U.S. dollar.

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British fund Gemcorp extends $250 million loan to Zimbabwe: London-based emerging market fund Gemcorp Group has extended a $250 million loan to Zimbabwe to help the country import essential goods like fuel and medicine. This adds on to Zimbabwe’s backlog for foreign payments is more than $600 million, according to the central bank.

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Update on Security laws relating to the freedom of media: The United States is pressing Zimbabwe to change laws restricting media freedom and anti-government protests. These laws include the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which restricts media freedoms and bars foreign correspondents from working in Zimbabwe full time and the Public Order and Security Act, which is used by the security agencies to prohibit anti-government protests and arrest pro-opposition activists.

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Plans to repeal draconian law: Zimbabwe makes plans to repeal draconian media law that was used by Mugabe’s regime to ban international news outlets from operating in Zimbabwe.

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All Africa

Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania pass law against online publication:The new law propose fine and terms of imprisonment for publishing false information, social media and cyber bullying. It also requires publishers to be registered and obtain license and pay annual fee for publication.

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New U.S. legislation shows continuity in Africa trade policy: U.S. President Donald Trump signed the African Growth and Opportunity (AGOA) Act and the Millennium Challenge Act (MCA) Modernisation Act into law on 23 April.

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Internet Society and AU commission release guidelines on personal data protection for Africa: The Internet Society and the African Union Commission launched the Personal Data Protection Guidelines for Africa, highlighting how privacy protection and the responsible use of personal data are critical factors in building greater trust online and in advancing the digital economy in Africa.

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Liberia, Ivory Coast sign MoU for power supply to Liberia: The Liberian and Ivorian Governments have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the supply of energy to Liberia through the West Africa Power Pool Project. the MoU would witness the running of over 1,000km of power lines from Ivory Coast to Liberia through the Firestone corridor and subsequently to Sierra Leone.

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Togo and Equatorial Guinea Sign Liquefied Natural Gas Deal and Promote Regional Gas Trade: Togo and Equatorial Guinea have signed a cooperation agreement to facilitate the trade in liquefied natural gas between the two countries. The new memorandum of understanding creates a framework for Togo to import LNG produced in Equatorial Guinea.

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African Continental Free Trade Area(AfCFTA): 44 African countries have signed an agreement establishing a free trade area. The creation of a free trade area comes after two years of negotiations and is predicted to boost intra-African trade.

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ECOWAS Court To Sign MOU With African Court: The ECOWAS Community Court and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights are expected to sign an agreement on areas of collaboration that will enhance their contribution to improving respect for human rights in Africa.

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Resolution Against Fake Medicines in Africa: African ministers have signed a resolution to strengthen efforts in the fight against counterfeit medicines and health products across Africa.

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Africa Disability Protocol: The African Disability Alliance has called on African Governments to ratify the protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa.

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  • Click here to view the law the draft protocol

Angola and Madagascar Bilateral Cooperation: Angola and Madagascar officially sign a bilateral cooperation agreement.

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 Arbitration

Greater harmony required if arbitration is to break through in Africa.

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Does increased investment in Africa necessarily mean increased arbitration work for African Lawyers?

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Brexit:Are there any opportunities for Africa?

  • Click here for an article that outlines the ways in which Africa might benefit from Brexit as a result of its ability to renegotiate EPAs (Economic Partnership agreements) to create a "more balanced trade package” for African jurisdictions.

Competition in Africa

  • Click here for an article on fair competition in the aviation sector with Country specific updates.

Deal-making in Africa: It is a difficult market for deal-making in Africa during 2017, but it is not all doom and gloom, explained lawyers from Hogan Lovells at a recent event.

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Merkel Suggests Legal Route for Africans Entering Europe: German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggests creating a legal route for Africans facing the issues of human trafficking and modern day slavery to enter Europe at the EU-Africa summit in Abidjan on 29 November, 2017.

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Right of Free Movement: The Third African Judicial Dialogue took place from 9 to 11 November, 2017 in Arusha, Tanzania. The justices discussed a ten-year African Human Rights Action and Implementation Plan, 2017-2026 on the right of free movement.

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Trump and Sustainable Development in Africa: A study published in October 2017 by John Stremlau, a fellow of the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), attempts to explain the impact of Trump’s presidency on sustainable development in Africa and the relationship between Africa and the USA.

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ICC Commission targets African arbitration growth: The International Court of Arbitration (ICC) set to launch an Africa Commission to co-ordinate its growth and activity in Africa, as part of the arbitral institution’s drive to expand its use worldwide.

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Peace agreement signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea: Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki signed a peace agreement in Saudi Arabia in the presence of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The agreement is aimed at contributing towards strengthening security and stability in the region.

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Impact of Tunisia and Somalia joining COMESA: How will this impact ongoing transactions where parties had agreed to merge and had already conducted an analysis without taking into account Tunisia and Somalia as from July 23 2018, the date when the regime took effect for the two countries?

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Update on East African Regional law: With the current economic and social problems facing East Africa, there is need to boost the economy and much needed government revenues. Thus, it is essential that attractive tax incentives are enacted for instance, exemptions of certain incomes from tax. 

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Update on regional integration: The World Energy Council has signed an agreement with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern African (COMESA) to drive regional energy integration and enhance sustainable energy access in the 21 COMESA states. 

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Update on investment projects: African Development Bank Launches first Africa-to-Africa (A2A) Investment.

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Update on UN sanctions and EAC trade relations: East Africa is beginning to feel the impact of global politics as Kenya and Tanzania stop importing oil and gas from Iran in the face of United States sanctions against countries that continue to trade with Tehran.

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Update on regional integration: Tanzania has defended its decision to delay approval of the Electronic Cargo Tracking System (eCTs) which is implemented now by three partner states of the EAC, insisting that Tanzania is not ready yet to abandon its current system TANSIS.

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EAC Partner states urged to liberalize professional services across borders: The East African Business Council has been taking a lead to advocate for liberalization of professional services across the EAC borders.

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Update on human rights law: Human Rights Council adopts eight resolutions, extends mandates on Yemen, Central African Republic, Sudan and Somalia, and closes its thirty-ninth session.

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Update on EU- Africa trade law: EU-Africa Free Trade Policy Made in Germany. 

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Trump Signs Bill to Counter Chinese ‘Predatory’ Investment in Africa: U.S. President Donald Trump recently signed a bill into law to revamp America’s investment efforts in Africa to counter what the United States considers to be “predatory” economic practices across the continent at the hands of China, a move that is expected to benefit countries in the region.

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New East African Community Bill to protect informants: A draft law to protect whistleblowers in the East African Community is set for the second reading at the regional assembly in the coming weeks. If passed, the EAC Whistleblowers Bill, 2018 will enable partner states to provide budgets for the protection of people who reveal cases of corruption and misappropriation of public funds.

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