By Daniel Chigundu
THE government of Japan says it is looking at continuing its efforts of helping Africa in the area of promoting investments and protection of Intellectual Property (IP) as part the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) program.
TICAD was launched by Japan as a multilateral and open forum that generates innovative discussions on African development and during the 6th edition of the program held in Nairobi Kenya in 2016, Japan announced that it would provide training to 1,000 people over a period of three years between 2016 and 2018, in order to promote public awareness on IP system in Africa.
In a statement at the official opening of the WIPO IP Forum on Strengthening IP Management in African Universities workshop in Harare, Japan said the workshop is part of its commitment made in Kenya
“Today’s workshop held by utilizing the Japan Funds-in-Trust for Africa is a part of the initiatives for implementing the commitment Japan made at the TICAD VI.
“As the TICAD 7 will be held in Yokohama in August 2019, Japan would like to continue its efforts in Africa that will promote private sector investments, including the protection of industrial property.
“The purposes of today’s workshop are to provide the participants and students with a platform: (i) grasp the importance of IP management at universities and R&D institutions for an effective use of the IP system for socio-economic and technological development and wealth creation and (ii) learn about the Project on creating the guidelines on IP policies and strategies for the effective utilization of IP and the launch of the Pilot Projects for its implementation,” read the statement.
The Japanese government added that it is its hope that the workshop will be of great assistance for every participating country in terms of nurturing its IP professionals, and also contribute to further utilization of IP in their countries.
Speaking at the same occasion, Joyce Banya who was representing the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) director general thanked the government of Japan for its commitment.
“From the onset let me place it on record WIPO’s sincere appreciation to the government of Japan for the continued technical assistance support in promoting the effective use of the IP system in Africa, through the Japan Funds in Trust (FIT) arrangement or Africa and least developed countries.
“This Workshop is one of numerous, capacity building and skills development programs funded under the FIT, including the MIP Program in Africa University,” she said.
According to Banya, the reality today is that there is a need to move beyond the purely legalistic approach.
“One, to first recognise the role of universities as the main knowledge production centres in Africa as in other continents. Two – that universities must rise up to this crucial role and make a 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.
Banya added that the workshop, which has brought participants from the 38 institutions, is to formally launch the guidelines and explain what it is and what the “package” for the initial five pilot countries comprises of.
African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) director general Fernando dos Santos applauded the delegates and ambassadors for gracing the workshop adding that it will go a long way in enhancing discussions.
“I would also take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the ambassadors and representatives of embassies of ARIPO member states who are here today to grace this occasion. Your support and participation in ARIPO meetings is a testimony of your commitment to the growth of the organization.
“I am also very grateful to every one of you for coming and it is my hope that your presence here will enrich our discussions and enable us to chart a clear path for our countries with respect to Intellectual Property Development and Management.
“Distinguished participants, today, 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,” he said.