For the last three days, LII Director Tom Bruce has been meeting with representatives of seven African LIIs in Johannesburg (that’s right, “LII” is a global brand). The workshop, sponsored by AfricanLII and the Open Society Institute of South Africa, was held to discuss new strategies for sustainability in open-access to law in southern Africa. Participants came from Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland.
Sustainability is a sort of code word: the idea that open-access providers need to find ways to pay their bills so that they can remain viable over the long term. Free access to law is never costless, and LIIs in the developed and developing worlds alike need to find innovative ways to meet their expenses. There are many ways to do that — some entrepreneurial, some philanthropic — and a number of novel, interesting and surprising ideas were put forward by energetic workshop participants.
The best thing to come out of the three-day workshop? The slogan for SwaziLII is “kwetfu”, a Swazi word that means “it is ours”. It’s the best thing anyone could say about their law — and something we work toward every day.