The African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice (ACE-AJ) is a continent-wide network of African civil society organizations working to promote access to justice, universal human rights, the rule of law and legal aid for marginalised and poor communities.

The objective of establishing an African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice was to develop a place that would serve as a memorial to the struggles for social justice of Africa’s people and carry forward the traditions of African and international practices and thought leadership in how best to craft a vision for a society that upholds human dignity and affords justice beyond the narrow legal conceptions to the most vulnerable sectors of society.

The Center was also intended to be internationalist in nature, embodying Africa’s pursuit of justice for all while also bringing lessons and experiences from efforts in other parts of the world that have kept the flag of legal empowerment, the rule of law and access to justice flying, with a specific bias and emphasis on indigent African knowledge about justice and redress.

To make this concept a reality, respected human rights advocates interested in empowering marginalized and underprivileged communities and advancing access to justice on the African continent got together to establish a center that would later become the “African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice” (ACE-AJ).

From informal meetings, these activists moved to formalize the concept by signing a Memorandum of understanding between the organisations called the “founding members” and the organisation that would host the secretariat of the Centre, incubating it for some years.

These organisations are:

  • The Paralegal Advisory Service Institute (PASI) (Malawi)
  • Timap for Justice (Sierra Leone)
  • Kituo cha Sheria (Kenya)
  • The Legal Aid Forum (Rwanda)
  • Community Advice Offices (South Africa) (CAOSA), the organisation born from the merger of the National Alliance for Development of Community Advice Offices (NADCAO) and the Association of Community Advice Offices of South Africa (ACAOSA).

The current representatives of the founding members in alphabetical order:

  • Andrews Kananga (Legal Aid Forum Rwanda)
  • Simeon Koroma (Timap for Justice)
  • Annette Mbogoh (Kituo cha Sheria)
  • Clifford W. Msiska (PASI) – Chair
  • Tshenolo Tshoaedi (CAOSA)


“An Africa where integrated, synergized complementary and formal systems provide holistic justice services and outcomes.”

Launch of the African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice (ACE-AJ)

In 2015-2016, a feasibility study was done in five (5) countries – Malawi, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa, to determine the necessity of establishing such a centre. According to the feasibility assessment, there was a significant demand for the Centre.

The African Centre of Excellence for Access to Judicial (ACE-AJ) was subsequently inaugurated during the inaugural Pan-African conference on the collaboration between the formal justice system and community justice institutions (CJIs).

The conference was held in Kigali from 22-24 August 2017 and was attended by more than two hundred (200) participants from 16 countries (12 African countries represented and four from other continents). Three (3) chief justices (South Africa, Sierra Leone and Rwanda), judges from Malawi, South Africa, Somalia, South Sudan, and Kenya), ministers, academics, civil society organisations, etc., attended the conference. The conference passed the resolutions of the first Pan African Conference on the collaboration between the judiciary and indigenous/homegrown community justice institutions.

The ACE-AJ acknowledges the significant role that paralegals and other indigenous and homegrown justice institutions play in enhancing the local capacity of communities. Community justice institutions’ social and economic justice initiatives are the most effective and sustainable ways to empower communities to be effective drivers of their development. Community justice institutions have aided in reducing prison overcrowding, unnecessary delays, and court case backlogs while accelerating the resolution of thousands of disputes within communities.



“Working with others to promote holistic justice consciousness so that the people of Africa can seek, receive, and enjoy justice in ways that safeguard their customs, cultures, beliefs, way of life, and human rights.”