The direct link between economic activity and commercial law is irrefutable. Countries that want to promote economic growth strive to modernise their legal systems. This article discusses the main driving forces for legal reform in Portuguese-speaking African countries. It is argued that Portuguese language and legal culture will continue to be a relevant source of influence. However, foreign investment will also play a decisive role. Legal globalisation will probably be more important than familiarity and regional integration. The most important ‘legal family’ is now international trade law: all developing countries desire to be members of this ‘family’ as they struggle to join the world economy.