INTERVIEW OF DR MANDESSI BELL EVELYNE I
Hello, Dr Mandessi Bell. This interview takes place at an important crossroad : the 19th anniversary of Ohadalegis. What lead you to put Ohadalegis on line in 2001 ?
Question. I suppose that this birthday is a moment of satisfaction for you.
Let me add anecdotally that unfortunately, those among the Africans who understood the benefits of the web got quickly involved in questionable business. I point out here the internet swindles and scams specialists a good number of who are Africans (even though not all of them are of African origin). I also point out the poor young girls and women who get entangled in organized prostitution networks after dreaming " of the White counterpart who is going to remove them from poverty "…
In a very sporadic manner. It is true that remaining involved with the web requires continuous efforts, to provide content, renew it etc. However, for many Africans, whether professionals or not, being in contact with the web rather often just means to have an email address, the “must have” to avoid being classified as a prehistoric figure …. When a supreme effort is made to put a website online, it is a " business card "type of website without renewed content. Moreover, when clicking its link after 2 to 3 years, you find a message indicating that the page is not/no longer available or "error 404" showing that there is no more anybody there. To just take the example of simple email addresses, in the framework of online information campaigns for professionals in the Ohada zone conducted by us in 2019 and early 2020, we were faced with situations where more than three quarters of the mailing campaigns resulted in an error message with inaccessible email addresses because not used/no more used ...
Question. For you, is it really interesting for Africans to be involved in the web?
Dr Mandessi Bell. Yes, because there are countless areas in which services and products can be offered, regardless of the providers of these products and services. African start-ups are mobilizing a lot of energy in numerous digital activities, but the same trend is not observed among professionals, particularly in the legal field. The vast majority of services and products are still provided in the traditional framework and not online.
It is true that there are some obstacles to be overcome, which are not always easy to master on a continuous basis:
. the clients’ accessibility to an updated website, where he is also sure to be able to have an answer to his information requests etc., which is not always easy in view of some of the persons in charge (computer specialists and others) to whom these tasks are entrusted, not always rigorous or active, which may lead to the clients’ "disconnection" or mistrust,
. in addition to the possible power interruptions, despite the numerous commercial slogans to the contrary, the problem of the reliability of the Internet connection may deter those who would like to provide online services and products, which may require thinking about complementary schemes to ensure them.
This issue of the reliability of the Internet connection is a real problem at a time when digital activities are developing everywhere, leading to the increasing dematerialization of many procedures and formalities. Thus, a number of administrative procedures are dematerialized and the user is obliged to use these online schemes:
. which presupposes that he has the tools to do so,
Yet curiously, the instructional documents on these dematerialized procedures are written as if "everything was always perfect in the best world" and never include a word on the two above-mentioned situations, which however do not depend in any way on the will of the user who will not even be able, if he has a minimum legal knowledge, to invoke the “ force majeure” which prevented him from doing what expected from him online, since these two situations are not force majeure cases. The sanction will fall: penalty to be paid, inadmissibility of the file etc ...
Since no field in life is without problems, we maintain, that being involved in the web is indeed interesting, given the many areas in which products and services may be offered. The development of digital activities, for example, will be a great opportunity for lawyers who will get prepared to handle, for example, pre-litigation and litigation matters in this area.
We're going to:
- offer a few additional online services and products, including:
. online transactional settlement solutions of business pre-contentious and contentious matters in a different scheme from the traditional arbitration or mediation solutions,
- and we are going to get involved in additional areas:
. digital economy,
Online Transaction Desk in the Ohada zone.
Question. What about the digital economy ?
Dr Mandessi Bell. A Portal of the digital economy in Ohada zone is going to be set up.
Digital economy is a field attracting all kinds of interests and giving rise to a tsunami of optimistic presomptions in view of the actual possibilities it offers, but is being implemented with poorly designed or totally missing secured surroundings, as a study under way, sort of small survey of the situation in the Ohada zone, will show.
Secure contractual documents related to these digital activities will be available, consulting and auditing services on various points in the framework of these services and products to be provided, including fundraising related activities, online management services of pre-contentious and contentious matters, training for both professionals and start-ups (digital entrepreneurship does not have the same profile as "classic" entrepreneurship...).
Question. Can you tell us more on the forthcoming setting up of a barter platform ? In which fields can barter take place ?
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