African Govts urged to observe intellectual property rights to spur economic growth

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

A clarion call has been made for African governments to adopt intellectual property management in universities and research   and development institutions at the recently held two-day regional workshop organised by African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) in conjunction with the Japan Patent Office (JPO) and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

ARIPO director general Fernando Dos Santos said that Intellectual Property(IP) management  is now a force to reckon with in ensuring economic growth and as such   African countries should invest in it.

“Intellectual Property has become a global tool that countries are harnessing for their economic development and growth through the conversion of the innovative and creative capacity of their people into competitive products and services.

“Promotion of investment from abroad is important to develop an environment in which industrial property such as patent and trademark is properly protected and this will bring out the economic potential of Africa region, thereby driving sustainable growth in African countries,”advised the ARIPO boss.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Senior Counsellor, Regional Bureau for Africa Joyce Banya   believes in the need to recognize the role of universities as the main knowledge production centers in Africa as in other continents.

“WIPO has been engaged in raising IP awareness in universities for many years since the 90s. At that time the objective was to create a solid focal point in the legal faculty which could teach IP as a legal discipline.

“The reality today is that there is need to move beyond the purely legalistic approach. One, to first recognize the role of Universities as the main knowledge production centers in Africa as in other continents and that universities must rise up to this crucial role and make greater contribution to the national economic growth and prosperity in the continent, by effectively using the IP System for their research and innovation,” she said.

Japan through  Funds-in-Trust for Africa   pledged  to support  African  countries in establishing and enhancing laws and organizations involved with industrial property; and develop human resources who are involved in utilization of industrial property rights in the continent.

The two day workshop saw the launching of the guidelines for IP policy and strategy for an effective use of the IP system in Africa to be adopted by ARIPO member states.

The event was graced by delegates from across Africa    that include Mozambique, Zambia, Namibia, Malawi, Sudan, Swaziland and Zimbabwe just to mention but a few.

Zimbabwe is among the few countries that have national IP policy but there are suggestions that there is the need for energy   towards   implementation.

The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) is an inter-governmental organization that facilitates cooperation among member states in intellectual property matters, with the objective of pooling financial and human resources, and seeking technological advancement for economic, social, technological, scientific and industrial development.