Arusha, Tanzania – Seychelles’ Chief Justice Rony Govinden, along with Supreme Court Judge Brassel Adeline, Director of Legal Affairs Lionel Garrick, and Assistant to the Criminal Registry Marie-Angel Bare, joined esteemed judicial leaders from the Southern and Eastern Africa region at the Chief Justices’ Forum and Annual General Meeting. The event took place from October 22nd to 27th, 2023, at the Mount Meru Hotel Conference Hall in Arusha, Tanzania.

This year’s forum delved into critical topics that hold profound significance for the Judiciary and the pursuit of justice within the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The theme, “The Role of National Judiciaries in Dispute Resolution under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): Application of Modern Technologies for High Efficiency in Justice Dispensation,” encapsulates the essence of the event.

The conference opened with remarks by The Hon. Justice Prof. Ibrahim Hamis Juma, Chief Justice of Tanzania, setting the stage for five days of insightful discussions and interactions among some of the most prominent legal minds in the region.

Distinguished former Chief Justices, including Hon. Justice Mohamed C. Othman (Tanzania), Hon. Justice Dr. Willy M. Mutunga (Kenya), Hon. Justice Andrew K.C. Nyirenda (Malawi), Hon. Justice Ernest Sakala (Zambia), and Dr. Mario Fumo Bartolomeu Mangaze (Mozambique), also engaged in a dialogue on the past, present, and future outlook of the Southern and Eastern Africa region judiciaries.

One of the central issues on the agenda was the constitution and dispute resolution mechanisms within the African Continental Free Trade Area. Additionally, the event explored the need for a linkage between AfCFTA and national jurisdictions, asking whether national judiciaries have a role to play.

The conference featured a presentation by Ms. June Okal, the Global Stakeholder Engagement Manager for Eastern and Southern Africa at ICANN for Africa, on these matters. Furthermore, it looked into the role of artificial intelligence in the dispensation of justice, emphasizing electronic transcription and translation systems and services within the Tanzania Judiciary.

Mr. Enock Kalege, Director of Information and Communication Technology at the Judiciary of Tanzania, discussed the leveraging of artificial and business intelligence in the dispensation of justice, while Ms. Christine A. Owur, Senior Public Sector Specialist at the World Bank, addressed the strengthening of the rule of law through technology.

A panel of experts from Almawave S.P.A. presented the case for translation and transcription services in keeping pace with ICT developments. Moreover, the forum analyzed the role of modern technologies in dispute resolution in national courts, tribunals, and regional courts.

Underpinning these discussions is the exploration of Africa’s digital innovation and the question of whether the continent should invest in creating its own custom-based solutions or continue importing technology for immediate use.

Chief Justice Govinden, alongside other distinguished attendees, participated actively in these vital conversations, sharing insights and perspectives for the betterment of the region’s judiciaries. He was also offered a souvenir gift by the Chief Justice of Tanzania, Professor Ibrahim Hamis Juma.

The Chief Justices’ Forum is a platform for the exchange of knowledge and experiences, fostering collaboration among the judiciaries of Southern and Eastern Africa. This event is integral to the advancement of justice and the rule of law within the region.