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A Year In Review

As the year draws to a close, we are called to reflect on what has been an eventful and exciting year for iNtaka Centre for Law & Technology. 

The year kicked off with the Director of the Centre, A/Prof Tobias Schonwetter, addressing AfricanLII and GIZ conference on digitalisation in law on legal tech as a tool for better access to justice. His talk highlighted the gap in access to justice and the potential for legal technology to address it. Also presenting was the head of research at iNtaka, Dr Justice Mavedzenge, who spoke about the application of AI in judiciary and justice systems. 

In March of this year, the Centre attracted its first grant from Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt. The grant marked a significant stepping stone for the Centre which has started to outfit its LawTech Lab which will be made available for law students, in order to expose and acclimatise them to new developments in law and technology. Beyond this, the Centre supported Schmidt Futures in hosting the International Strategy Forum pilot, the first of its kind in Africa. The pilot was a huge success, and we look forward to welcoming the formal introduction of the International Strategy Forum Africa to the continent. 

In addition to this grant, the Centre also hired Tayla Pinto as the Centre’s project manager and Hanani Hlomani as the PhD research assistant. They have been instrumental in running the day-to-day of iNtaka as well as initiating projects and events such as the iNtaka’s Women’s Month Legal Tech conference/event. The latter event was a momentous occasion celebrating the movers and shakers in the legal technology space. 

The second half of the year saw the iNtaka team grow with the appointment of Kyle Janse, Charlise Finch and Takura Takavarasha  as research assistants. The team has been releasing blogs on law and technology throughout the course of the year. These ongoing blogs aim to provide insight into iNtaka’s areas of focus, as well as providing primers for interesting technological innovations and upcoming talks. 

To cap the year off, we played host to Dr Desmond Oriakhogba, one of the foremost IP scholars in Southern Africa, and a research agenda setting seminar led by Dr Mavedzenge. The former event focused on AI and Inventorship where Dr Oriakhogba took attendees through the intersection of AI and patents, specifically speaking to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission’s recent decision to grant DABUS (an AI system) a patent. The latter event, chaired by Dr Mavedzenge, was an internal meeting that sought to set the research agenda for the upcoming year and involved spirited debate between the team on the priority focus areas for the Centre. 

The iNtaka Centre for Law and Technology was recognized for its achievements over the course of 2022, by Lawyer’s Hub at its annual Africa Legal Tech and Innovation Awards. The Centre achieved first runner’s up position for Academic Legal Tech Institution of the Year. This stands testament to the hard work by the team throughout 2022.

All in all, it has been a year of growth and innovation at iNtaka Centre for Law & Technology. We have achieved much this year and set the tone for the upcoming year. The Centre would also like to bid farewell to Tayla Pinto who, after joining in March this year, will take up a candidacy position at Michalsons next year. Tayla has been an incredibly important part of the team since joining as project manager and has spearheaded the various projects undertaken by iNtaka over the course of 2022. Tayla will be staying on as a research affiliate and assisting in growing the organisation from the outside. We wish you nothing but success in your future endeavours, Tayla.

Finally, we would like to thank you, our patrons. None of this would be possible without the continued support of our donors, attendees and interested parties. Some of the core principles of the Centre are cross-collaboration, outreach and justice so as to guide the development of legal technology and technology. Without your voice and support, this endeavour would be futile. We look forward to engaging with you further in 2023 as we continue to grow this organisation, and space – for the good of all. 

From all of us at iNtaka Centre for Law & Technology:

Happy Holidays!