Microsoft 4Afrika has transferred full ownership and management of its IP Hub to the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), expanding its reach to more African countries in an effort to enable more cross-border trade.
This is according to a statement posted on the COMESA Website dated 26th April 2017 which coincides with World IP Day.
The IP Hub, which Microsoft 4Afrika developed and launched in 2014, is an online learning resource designed to drive awareness around intellectual property (IP) rights. Through a series of modules, it educates innovators on the ins and outs of copyright, trademarks, patents and general IP protection.
"The COMESA IP Hub is a concerted effort between the public and private sector for the development of a regional platform that can contribute to a strengthened national IP protection system, in a manner that promotes innovation, business development and trade," says Mr Sindiso Ngwenya, COMESA Secretary General in the statement.
He also added, "the value of IP and IP protection has not yet been fully utilised within the region. This day marks a shift in our direction as the COMESA region, towards the realisation of the need to protect IP, with copyright protection being the initial step."
Louis Otieno, Corporate Affairs Director at Microsoft 4Afrika, adds: "We developed the IP Hub with the promise to pilot it and then hand it over to local governments and authorities. This is therefore an exciting milestone for us, especially as we commemorate the 17th annual World IP Day."
This year's World IP Day, focused on how IP systems can support innovation that improves lives. According to the new 2017 U.S. Chamber International IP Index, economies with robust IP protection see 80% more knowledge-based, technological and creative outputs, and are 68% more likely to have supportive business climates.
In addition to handing over the IP Hub, Microsoft 4Afrika will continue to collaborate with IP authorities in COMESA member states to automate their IP registration processes.
Microsoft and COMESA are also working together to enable the creation of new IP. By promoting a trusted cloud infrastructure - underpinned by relevant policies around cybersecurity and data privacy - the two organisations hope to encourage more people to use cloud technology, develop their own IP and ultimately participate in trade and e-commerce across borders.
The COMESA IP Hub is now live and accessible at http://iphub.comesa.int/.