THE government is readying an Intellectual Property (IP) policy aimed also to benefit producers of industrial and agricultural products to compete effectively in the local, regional and global markets.
President Jakaya Kikwete said this in Dar es Salaam yesterday while opening a two-day African Conference on the Strategic Importance of Intellectual Property (IP) Policies to Foster Innovation, Value Creation and Competitiveness organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
"We are fully aware that when products are identified with trade marks to distinguish them from similar products from competitors, they become more competitive in the market," Mr Kikwete observed. The president gave the example of Ethiopian coffee farmers who have branded their coffee beans, saying that the move was an inspiration as the farmers were now reaping premium prices for their products.
"I am happy to note that WIPO is assisting Tanzania to develop a branding strategy for our distinctive agricultural products. Apart from industrial and agro products, the IP policy will also support the growth of creative or copyright based industry in the country," he said.
He noted that the copyright based industry was growing fast and employing a large segment of the population and with huge capacity and potential to employ many more in future. "So far the Copyright Society of Tanzania has registered a large number of artists and literary works and continues to work tirelessly to curb piracy.
We know, however, with an effective IP policy, we can do more, we can do better...," he stated. In another development, President Kikwete expressed the government's commitment to train experts in IP as a way of answering a critical challenge of lack of experts in the field.
"One of the major challenges that many African countries face is lack of a critical mass of experts to formulate and enforce effective IP policies and related laws. I am happy to say that the University of Dar es Salaam in collaboration with BRELA (Business Registrations and Licensing Agency) and the African Regional Industrial Property Organisation (ARIPO), will soon sign a MoU to launch a masters degree programme in IP," he said.
He commended the University of Dar es Salaam, BRELA and ARIPO for the wise and visionary decision to address the matter, adding that he was hopeful that WIPO will extend the necessary support for the initiative and help make it a success.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator for Tanzania, Mr Alberic Kacou said WIPO, a UN specialised agency has been assisting its 185 member states in developing balanced international IP legal framework. "In the context of Tanzania, IP is especially relevant to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) growth as it is the backbone of industries.
SMEs produce 50 per cent of the country's industrial output," he said. He added, "For market stability SMEs growth depends on competitiveness.
This can be achieved if and when SMEs use IP effectively." Mr Kacou noted that the meeting was timely as Tanzania is heading towards new discoveries on natural resources, making headway in infrastructure and expanding opportunities for more investments.