Protecting Intellectual Property in Africa: Workshop Report on the Practical Approaches to IP Utilization & Protection in Africa

This is a guest post from the Secretariat of the African IP Group (AIPG).

Recently, Copyright Alliance Executive Director Sandra Aistars joined a program in Tanzania, jointly organized by the United States Department of Commerce and the African IP Group to foster collaboration with and among  artists, creators, innovators, and other IP owners on the African continent. The following guest post by members of the Secretariat of the African IP Group provides a report on the collaboration.  

A first of its kind conference on IP issues in Africa was recently held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The conference co-hosted by the Commercial Law Development Program of the US Department of Commerce (CLDP) and Africa  Intellectual Property Group (AIPG) was opened by Hon.Dr. Abdallah Kigoda (MP), Minister of Industry, Trade, and Marketing, Republic of Tanzania, Mr. Peter Kiguta, Director General of Customs and Trade, East African Community (EAC)  and His Excellency Alfonso E. Lenhardt, the Ambassador of the United States of America to the United Republic of Tanzania.

The conference brought together over one hundred and eighty IP practitioners, regulators, policy advisors and stakeholders representing  Nineteen  (19) African countries both Anglophone and francophone and participants  from  across the globe with interest in IP matters in Africa.  Regional institutions including WIPO, ARIPO, OAPI, COMESA and the East African Community (EAC) were represented as well as global industry associations. The participants included academics, artists, entrepreneurs, public officials, enforcement officers, lawyers, and journalists all united by common interest in seeing IP grow in the continent. The quality of the panels and presentations, as well as the energy of the discussions was very high.  In the first instance, the connection between the utilization and protection of intellectual property and African economic development was made, albeit in agreement that there was not a “one size fits all” prescription for Africa.  In different and growing African sectors, from the creative, to manufacturing, and innovation, the workshop facilitated the discussion of the issues, challenges, and approaches posed by counterfeiting, piracy, licensing, digital economy, film, fashion and music, and the commercialization of research and development.