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Review of the Electronic Transactions Act in Mozambique

The adoption of the Electronic Transitions Act of 9 January 2017 in Mozambique  has laid down a general legal framework of protection for users of ICT in trade and investment.

The Electronic Transactions Act, approved by Law No. 2/2017 of 9 January 2017 (“LTE”) provides the legal framework for –

  • electronic transactions (“any communication or activity between two parties conducted by electronic means”),
  • e-commerce (“economic activity under which a person offers or guarantees through an electronic mean, the provision of goods and/or services”), and
  • e-government (“the use of information and communications technology, mainly the Internet, by the government to provide information and services to citizens “)

which is applicable to natural and legal persons, public and individual persons.

The main objective of the LTE is to create legal security in electronic transactions (“TE”) (as a means of communication for rendering services) through the establishment of a legal framework and to impose penalties for cyber offenses, in order to promote public and private investment, the use of technologies, and to make the TE faster.  The LTE created the National Institute of Information and Communication Technologies/Instituto Nacional de Tecnologias de Informação e Comunicação, which functions include: assigning and managing the domain “.mz”, ensuring compliance with the LTE through inspection and supervision, implementing the e-government, licensing service intermediaries for networking and communications systems, ensuring the implementation of the State’s electronic certification service, promoting the application of TE and protecting the consumer in the context of transactions, e-commerce and e-government.

In summary, the LTE covers the following aspects: grants legal effect to data messages or information in electronic format (provided that they satisfy certain legal requirements and formalities), sets out requirements for the certification of electronic signatures and the use of data messages as legal evidence, gives legal effectiveness to electronic messages in the process of contract formation, regulates e-commerce, assigns to the Bank of Mozambique the power to issue safety assurance standards for all payments made through electronic payment instruments and assigns responsibility to the issuers of electronic payment instruments.  The LTE also sets out the legal framework for consumer protection in contracts related to e-commerce; creates the legal framework for e-government, which gives legal effectiveness to the care and rendering of electronic services in public administration and regulates the Digital Certification System and Encryption (which provides security mechanisms to ensure authenticity, confidentiality and integrity of information and documents used in the TE).

The adoption of this law appears to be of great importance, given the massive use of information and communication technologies (“ICT”).  It has laid down a general legal framework of protection for users of ICT in trade and investment, creating, among others, legal security mechanisms for entering of contracts, standards for protection of consumer rights, the allocation of probative value to the TE and the creation of a framework in respect of cyber offenses.  However, given the involvement of the various areas of law, such as Commercial Law, Administrative Law and Banking Law among others, it seems necessary to set specific regulations for each of the areas covered.

Article compiled by Vanessa Fernandes, lawyer at CGA – Couto, Graça & Associados, Mozambique

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