11 December 2018

Africa: Most of the Continent's Intellectual Property 'Unregistered'

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Photo: New Times
African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation.

The African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) is concerned that most new discoveries in Africa remain unregistered, which threatens innovation development.

Experts in patent protection from over 15 African countries said this yesterday in Kigali while laying new strategies to improve patent registration in their respective countries.

According to John Kabare, the Intellectual Property Operations Executive at ARIPO, Africa has registered only 0.5 per cent of the more than 3 million patent applications worldwide.

"And this is not because Africans don't innovate. It is because they don't file patent applications" he said.

Kabare said the organisation has intensified the creation of awareness of the need to have protected intellectual property to avoid "ride-overs" and earn money from those who want to use the new innovations.

Richard Kayibanda, the Registrar General at Rwanda Development Board, said patent registration had increased to 409 from 162 in 2017 and 48 in 2016.

Kayibanda said that the number of patent registrations have been increasing since the country joined Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in 2011.

"Despite all the efforts, we're still aware that a big number of patentable innovations are not protected" he said.

The Patent Cooperation Treaty allows any innovator to submit their patentable discovery for protection in any of the 150 countries that signed the treaty.

According to the Global Innovation Index 2017 and the African Capacity Report 2017, African institutions lag behind in building capacity in science, technology and innovation.

Kayibanda said that, in response to these challenges, the Government devised the National Intellectual Property Policy as the country looks to become an innovation hub.

"An innovation hub and fund were established to give an opportunity to young innovators to grow," he said.

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