Africa lagging behind in patent applications

By Kenias Chivuzhe

THE issue of improving knowledge transfer on Intellectual Property (IP) has become topical and critical in promoting sustainable development through exploitation and protection of property rights. 

Despite the issue of Intellectual Property (IP) being critical in promoting sustainability and development, Africa contributes only 0.6 percent in the global patent application pool.

It is with this understanding in mind that the Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation Project in Africa (AfriPI) in partnership the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) are supporting Africa University to enhance the institution’s programme on IP.

“The main barrier to a more pragmatic and relevant IP training is lack of practical skills by our graduates. In some cases, this has been used to justify Africa’s 0.6 percent contribution into global patent applications pool. This electronic board is therefore critical in knowledge transfer on IP issues.

“With these sacrifices , we hope that the gaps in the Masters of Intellectual property  curriculum  will be plugged  to ensure that MIP continues to be Africa’s Flagship programme  that builds demand driven  capacity  thus stimulating the filling of IP applications. More IP applications  mean sustainable agriculture in Africa, improved therapeutics, and diagnostics, clean water and social economic progress,” said Aripo Representative, Dr Outule Rapul.

Handing over a smartboard to Africa University aimed at facilitating delivery of online lectures, AfriPi Intellectual Property Expert, Ms Nancy Samuriwo gave an insight on the importance of strengthening IP institutions in promoting uptake in Africa.

“There are local products that obtain their characteristics by being produced in specific geographical areas and can boost the local economy. Zimbabwean examples are Vumba Coffee, The Kariba Bream and Trout Fish from Troutbeck Nyanga. A few of African SMEs are aware of how to leverage the best advantages of IP framework in Africa.

“AfriPI acknowledges the important role that technology plays in the teaching and dissemination of intellectual property issues, particularly in this fourth industrial revolution that we are in, which places a premium on technology and knowledge-based goods and services,” said Ms Samuriwo.

The smartboard will enhance interaction with students from other countries.

“The smartboard makes intensive use of e-learning content and technologies in tandem with education 5.0 and the ever-changing technology landscape,” said Professor Pamela Machakanja; Interim Africa University Deputy Vice Chancellor.

The partnership comes at a time when there is a drive to pull resources together for the development and harmonisation of IP laws and policies among member states to enforce implementation of intellectual property rights across Africa and to facilitate intra Africa trade.