Africa’s diversity is reflected in its legal systems. The following legal curiosities give a taste of what makes the continent such an interesting, and sometimes challenging, place to transact.
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- A Nigerian guarantor cannot make payment under a guarantee denominated in South African Rand without a Certificate of Capital Importation. This is issued by a bank in Nigeria when funds are imported into Nigeria. It is therefore not common for Nigerian entities to give guarantees for transactions in which funds do not flow into Nigeria.
- The giving of security by a Ghanaian company will typically attract stamp duty in Ghana. The principal security document will be assessed at the rate of 0.5% of the secured sums, and each other security document will be assessed at the rate of 0.25% of the secured sums.
- Namibia and Zimbabwe do not use special notarial bonds, although they do register general notarial bonds as security.
- Ghana does not automatically recognise South African judgments and their courts may revisit the merits of any South African judgment.
- Many former French colonies are signatories to the Organisation pour l’Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires (OHADA) treaty, which puts in place a uniform system of business laws. The system draws strongly on a French model of business laws. Member states are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Ownership of land in some African countries (such as in Tanzania and Mozambique) vests with the state. Private rights over the land can only be obtained by way of leasehold.
- South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe have legal systems that are based on Roman-Dutch law. Countries like Zambia, Uganda and Kenya are more closely aligned to English law. West Africa has a European codified system which is developed through the OHADA Treaty.
- Some African countries manage their foreign currency reserves by way of exchange control. In particular, South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland form part of a common monetary area (CMA) in which any funds flowing out of the CMA countries requires authorisation from the Reserve Bank of South Africa.
- In countries such as the DRC and Madagascar mineral rights vest in the state.
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