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AfCFTA and lex mercatoria: reconceptualising international trade law in AfricaThis paper focuses on the Agreement for the Establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). It argues that commercial activities in precolonial Africa was akin to the phenomenon of lex mercatoria in medieval Europe. It discusses two major tenets embedded in the AfCFTA: the variable geometry principle and the dispute settlement mechanism. It argues that for structural and comparative purposes, these principles (variable geometry and dispute settlement) form the kernel of modern lex mercatoria in the African context. This paper concludes by advocating that the AfCFTA will enhance the principles of lex mercatoria by promoting African trade principles.
Africa, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and digital diplomacy: (Re)negotiating the international knowledge structureThe Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) builds on the exponential growth of digital capacities, blurring the lines between the physical and digital spheres. Following its recognition as a phenomenon at the 2016 World Economic Forum, analysis has mainly focused on assessing the socio-economic challenges and benefits that advancements in science, technology and innovation hold. Yet there remains a shortfall in understanding the impact of these digital technologies from the perspective of international relations and diplomacy, particularly on questions of equality, governance, and emerging transnational relations. For Africa, participation in negotiating the international governance of digital technologies is critical in mitigating a peripheral role in the international knowledge structure, ensuring transformational rather than transactional relations when it comes to the 4IR. This article argues that analysis of digital diplomacy as diplomacy for digital technology – ie, negotiating the governance of digital technologies – provides a useful lens for critically assessing Africa vis-à-vis the 4IR .