HomeBlogAssets Management in AfricaWhat Happens to Digital Assets After Death in Africa?

What Happens to Digital Assets After Death in Africa?


In the digital age, our lives are increasingly lived online, creating a growing amount of digital assets. These assets, ranging from social media accounts and emails to digital currencies and online businesses, represent a significant portion of our modern identities and wealth. However, one question that often goes unaddressed is: What happens to these digital assets after death? While this is a global issue, this article focuses on the African context, discussing the current legal framework, challenges, and potential solutions for managing digital assets post-death.

Understanding Digital Assets

Digital assets encompass any content, information, or rights existing in digital form owned or controlled by an individual. These can include, but are not limited to, digital currencies (like Bitcoin), social media accounts (like Facebook and Instagram), digital photos and videos, emails, blogs, domain names, and online banking accounts.

The Legal Framework in Africa

The legal landscape governing digital assets after death in Africa is still relatively undeveloped, leading to complexities and uncertainties. Laws vary greatly among African countries, and in many, legislation has yet to catch up with the rapid evolution of digital assets.

In South Africa, one of the continent’s more advanced legal systems, the law doesn’t yet specifically address the issue of digital assets after death. However, legal experts suggest incorporating digital assets into wills and estates, even though clear-cut procedures for this process do not yet exist.

In many other African nations, the situation is similar or even less defined. This lack of clear legal guidelines often leads to digital assets being lost, inaccessible, or mismanaged after the owner’s death.


The lack of clear legal guidance on digital assets after death can lead to a number of problems. For example, families may not be able to access their loved one’s bank accounts or social media accounts. This can make it difficult to deal with their loved one’s finances and to stay in touch with their friends and family.

In some cases, digital assets may be lost or destroyed altogether. This can happen if the person who created the assets did not leave clear instructions about what should happen to them after their death.

Several challenges persist in handling digital assets post-death in Africa:

1. Awareness: Many individuals are unaware of the significance of their digital assets and don’t include them in estate planning.

2. Privacy laws and terms of service: Digital service providers often have strict privacy policies that limit access to accounts after a user’s death, even by next of kin.

3. Lack of legislation: The absence of specific laws governing digital assets after death leads to uncertainty and confusion.

4. Technological barriers: Especially in rural areas, lack of access to digital technologies and low digital literacy can complicate the handling of digital assets.

Potential Solutions

To tackle these challenges, a multi-faceted approach is needed:

1. Legal reform: African nations need to develop laws that specifically address digital assets after death, providing clear guidelines for their management and inheritance.

2. Public education: Greater efforts are needed to increase public awareness of the importance of including digital assets in estate planning.

3. Digital service providers’ policies: Providers should offer clear, user-friendly options for managing accounts after death, such as Google’s Inactive Account Manager or Facebook’s Legacy Contact.


The management of digital assets after death is a critical issue in today’s digital age, requiring urgent attention from lawmakers, digital service providers, and individuals in Africa. As digital assets become increasingly significant, ensuring their proper management and inheritance after death is a crucial aspect of estate planning. Addressing this issue will safeguard personal legacies, protect privacy, and secure digital wealth for future generations.

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