Lilongwe — Malawi Solicitor General, Janet Banda, has described Geographical Indication (GI) as important in adding value to agriculture products.
Banda made the remarks when she presided over the official opening of 41st session of the Administrative Council of African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) Member States meeting on Monday at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.
The World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights ("TRIPS") defines "geographical indications" as indications that identify goods originating in the territory of a region or locality in that territory
Banda said she was aware that Malawi' economy is agricultural based, necessitating the country to develop laws that protect Malawi GIs to support the development of reputable agricultural product brands.
"As ARIPO Members, we need to identify products and develop practical steps to protect these products through GIs and have realistic deliverables. It is my belief that the Administrative Council will work towards achieving this goal," said Banda.
She further said she was aware the meeting would be discussing regulations for the Arusha Protocol for the protection of plant varieties.
"It is the expectation of many interested parties that will adopt the regulations during this Administrative Council Session so that all members party to the protocol can start reaping the benefits," she said.
According to Banda, Malawi has achieved high level meeting on promoting policy coherence on health technology innovation and access in the ARIPO Region early this year.
"World Intellectual Properties Organisation Study, on 2013 estimated that malaria outbreak creative sector contributes around 3 to 4 per cent to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) highlighting its growth potential," she explained to Malawi News Agency.
She added that government has recognized the creative sectors' potential and their activities will support the country's growth.
According to Banda, the government believes in fostering the conditions of Malawi's creators to thrive, support and improve the country's economic output.
"It is not surprising that our parliament, on July 2016 passed a new Copyright law which helps to protect, sets the scene for our visual artists, musicians, authors, filmmakers and the whole creative industry to take advantage of the opportunity the Intellectual Properties (IP) can bring," she added.
African Regional Intellectual Property Organization's (ARIPO) Director General, Fernando dos Santos, said IPs are good globally, especially for Africa.
"It has been our greatest hope to see the creative industry flourish; collections for different sectors have improved though there is still room for improvement," said dos Santos.
He added that broadcasting industries are major users of creative content in Africa, yet from the recent survey undertaken by CISAC only 40% are licensed.
Fernando dos Santos said Africa needs to improve its copyright and related rights landscape. This, he said, will ensure transfer of value benefits to creators whose creative works are undervalued and receive unsatisfactory compensation in most cases.
He explained that Policy and Legal Frameworks for African countries have to be redefined to ensure that users like: broadcasting organizations; digital service providers; educational institutions; hotels; restaurants; art galleries and auction houses compensate the creators and curb piracy.
"ARIPO will continue to undertake initiatives with strategic partners to contribute to the benefits and protection of the African creative industry market at large," said dos Santos.
ARIPO has been holding national roving seminars for academic institutions in its 19 member states in pursuit of its strategic plan of using intellectual property to raise economic growth in Africa.
The 41st session of ARIPO's Administrative Council will run for three days starting from Monday up to Wednesday.