On 21 September, two unique and electrifying events took place in Nairobi and Lagos: the annual Innovating Justice Conference. The conferences brought together a unique and inspiring mix of justice entrepreneurs, members of the legal and justice sector, representatives from the government and Embassies and many more. All are driven by their motivation to bring innovation to the justice system and make justice accessible for all!
HiiL’s Justice Accelerator team selected seven finalists from Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Benin to compete in Lagos and seven finalists from Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania to participate in Nairobi. All finalists had to present their justice innovation to the audience, after which a jury selected the most promising one as the winner. Following an exciting and impressive competition, HiiL is pleased to announce the winners in both Lagos and Nairobi.
Lagos Innovating Justice Conference
And the winner is…..HeLawyer! The first place goes to HeLawyer, a mobile app from Benin specializing in legal advice. It provides citizens, legal information and legal advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Second place goes to #NoMore, an app that enables females students at Nigerian university campuses to securely report cases of sexual harassment, rape or abuse. Third place goes to Fix Solutions/Crime Sync from Sierra Leone, an all-in-one digital crime records management application which serves to improve judicial service delivery through the whole justice chain.
The Lagos Innovating Justice Conference brought together an impressive line-up of speakers. The Conference was opened by keynote speaker, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, co-founder of Transparency International and and Public Policy Expert, Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative (AEDPI), who praised HiiL’s engagement in Nigeria, stating that” it is my hope that this programme of HiiL becomes a global good”. In a powerful address, Dr. Ezekwesili urged all stakeholders to work towards reducing poverty and eliminating inequality in order to make justice more accessible in Nigeria.
Vice-President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo also highlighted the problem of poverty but noted that the government has taken measures to support innovation in the public sector.
A panel discussion touched the meaning of data for Nigeria’s justice system with:
- His Excellency, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, Governor of Ondo State
- Dr. Yemi Dipeolu, Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Office of the Vice-President
- Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, co-founder, Transparency International and Public Policy Expert, Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative (AEDPI)
- Olasupo Shasore (SAN) – Former Attorney-General for Lagos State
- Michel Deelen, Head, Netherlands Embassy Office in Lagos and Deputy Head of Mission
H.E. Rotimi Akeredolu, Governor of Ondo State, stated that ” lawyers’ clients are suffering from delays in justice delivery”. He highlighted the innovations that had been made already to address these delays but added that more should be done.
After the Conference, HiiL’s CEO Dr. Sam Muller said he “felt humbled” by the power, drive and promise of the justice entrepreneurship he witnessed in Lagos. Mr. Gbemi King, Head, Training and Development, Women Arise expressed that is he pleased that one of the panel discussions was on the protection of the rights of girls and women. He believes that it will help reduce the high rate of sexual and domestic violence in the country.
Nairobi Innovating Justice Conference
Following the excitement of the Lagos Innovating Justice Conference, we continued our journey for justice innovation in Nairobi. Seven finalists pitched their ideas and the winner is…..Btrack Global! Btrack Global enables motorcyclists to track their motorcycles through the use of phones, to make them easily recoverable after they have been stolen. Second place went to Viamo, a start up from Rwanda. Viamo is developing information on access to justice that will be made available on demand in pre-recorded audio and text, on a toll-free mobile service under the shortcode 845, supported by MTN. Third place and audience choice award went to Wakili Mkononi, an edutainment platform that simplifies legal information and connects users to legal help.
During the Conference, the audience heard from an impressive list of speakers on the need for justice innovation. The Honorable Justice William Ouko, President of the Court of Appeal, delivered the keynote address. According to him “access to justice includes; easily accessible justice, in an easily understood language and affordable fees”. During a panel discussion, the panelists talked about how to scale up solutions and bring justice across borders.
- The Honorable Justice Gitembu Kairu, Head of ICT Committee
- Francis Maina, Director of Coordination Office, Governance Justice Law and Order Sector
- Zeinab Mukhtar Ali, Education Officer, Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission
“Judges and Magistrates are still writing law by hand. The innovation here is to record audio proceedings and thus make it easily transferable to text…and communication system between courts and the clients…”, said Justice Gitembu Kairu. He also added that the judiciary in Kenya “lacks adequate human resource to deal with all cases that come before them, they are therefore responsive to the use of ICTs.” Francis Maina stated that “public awareness is an area where there needs to be partnership between the private and public sector particularly in access to justice.”
The team of HiiL would like to issue a special thank you to all the speakers and members of the jury at the Innovating Justice Conferences in Lagos and Nairobi. The Conferences brought us one step closer to achieve our goal: making justice accessible for all. Our journey to accessible justice does not end here though. Stay tuned for more updates, because on 27 September our next Innovating Justice Conference will take place in Kyiv, Ukraine!