The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) held a bilateral meeting at the ARIPO headquarters in Harare on 18 December, 2017. The meeting was convened to discuss the implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed between the two Organisations on 9 December, 2016.

The two Organizations agreed on a work plan for the year 2018 that will see:

  1. The harmonisation of policies, laws and strategies to promote IP development for the benefit of the COMESA and ARIPO regions
  2. Joint IP awareness creation and capacity building initiatives taking advantage of the existing initiatives in the form of programmes being undertaken by the ARIPO Academy and the COMESA IP Hub
  3. Reciprocal representation by both parties in high level meetings of policy organs and governing bodies of the respective parties.

Mr Gabriel Masuku,Deputy Legal Counsel and Intellectual Property (IP) Coordinator represented COMESA while the Director General of ARIPO Mr. Fernando dos Santos led the ARIPO team in the bilateral meeting.

ARIPO headquarters building named best commercial property for 2017

The magnificence of the new ARIPO headquarters building did not go unnoticed as it was adjudged to be the best property developed under commercial projects category in the whole of Zimbabwe at the Zimbabwe Project Management Awards 2017 organized by the Chartered Institute of Project Managers Zimbabwe on Monday, 18 December, 2017 in Harare, Zimbabwe.

The annual awards are aimed at recognising and celebrating outstanding achievements in business and engineering project management throughout the country covering several sectors including ICT infrastructure, mining, manufacturing, property development, amongst others.

Situated in Belgravia – a diplomatic missions’ enclave in Harare – the ARIPO headquarters building comprises extensive office space, conference facilities, state-of-the-art auditorium, cafeteria and a beautiful garden to give the building an excellent ambience for conducting business. The conference facilities offer a variety of meetings packages that range from private spaces to ambient conference rooms that can accommodate up to 150 participants.

The Director General of ARIPO, Mr. Fernando dos Santos received the award on behalf of the Organization at the awards ceremony in the company of other senior ARIPO officials.

The ARIPO Audit Committee comprising of Audit experts from its Member States namely Uganda (Chair), Mozambique, Lesotho and Sierra Leone is meeting at the ARIPO Headquarters in Harare, Zimbabwe from 14 to 15 December, 2017 to review the implementation of the Organization's Audit Plan for 2017, Internal Audit activities for the year as well as deliberate on the proposed Audit Plan for the year 2018.

The session was officially opened by the Director General of ARIPO, Mr. Fernando dos Santos, who in his opening remarks, commended the commitment of the committee towards ensuring that the Organization conducts its mandate in a transparent manner and as given to it by the Member States.

Kick-starting the session deliberations, the Chairman of the Audit Committee, Mr. Alex Anganya, also commended the members of the committee for the sterling work they did in the year which was in turn applauded by the just ended 41st Session of the Administrative Committee of the Organization that was held in Lilongwe, Malawi in November 2017.

The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 8 December 2017 at the ARIPO Headquarters geared to increase awareness on Intellectual Property (IP) in Zimbabwe.

According to the ARIPO Director General, Mr. Fernando dos Santos, the MoU between ARIPO and ZBC will put in place a general collaboration framework with a view to creating the awareness among the large public on the importance of IP for socio-economic & cultural development.

"The media is an indispensable tool for awareness creation. We value this partnership with ZBC as the masses need to know about IP and its role in the economic development of a country. ARIPO is glad to be able to use ZBC TV and radio to reach majority of the population in Zimbabwe and educate them on IP rights," said Mr Dos Santos.

ZBC Chief Executive Officer, Mr Patrick Mavhura, said the signing of the agreement signified a new era in the history of ZBC and ARIPO. He said, "As a national broadcaster whose role is to educate, entertain and inform the nation on various matters of interest, the formalisation of the relationship between ARIPO and ZBC presents immeasurable opportunities for us to effectively execute this mandate."

Mr Mavhura noted that issues of IP are key in an integrated economic development process and hence the need for public awareness. The media therefore was an indispensable tool in educating the different publics on what intellectual property entails and the benefits it presents to their businesses.

The joint activities under the MoU will include airing of TV and radio programs that highlight the importance and benefits of using IP for economic development, youth programs that will promote innovation and creativity, coverage of ARIPO main events by ZBC as well as training of ZBC personnel by ARIPO on IP to improve the level and quality of reporting by the station.

The MoU signing ceremony was attended by ZBC head of sections and ARIPO's Executives and Heads of departments.

The ARIPO Director General, Mr Fernando dos Santos, is attending the 57th Session of the Administrative Council of the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle [African Intellectual Property Organization] (OAPI), being held in Niamey, Niger that started today, 11 December, 2017.

While giving his opening remarks at the Session, Mr Dos Santos alluded to the permanent status given to OAPI and ARIPO at the WTO TRIPS Council that was held on 19-20 October 2017. He said that the status was a good opportunity for the two Organizations to combine their efforts and speak with one voice in discussions on Intellectual Property topics of interest to Africa. This was also a recommendation by the ARIPO Administrative Council at its 41st Session held in Lilongwe, Malawi, from, November 20 to 22, 2017.

Mr Dos Santos also congratulated the OAPI Director General, Dr. Denis Loukou Bohoussou, on his appointment this year and for his commitment to strengthen the already existing Cooperation between OAPI and ARIPO.

In February this year, the two organizations signed a four year Cooperation Agreement. This Agreement, envisaged to take the relationship of the two organizations to new heights, abrogated two earlier agreements signed by the two organizations in 1996 and 2005 respectively.

The new Agreement established a comprehensive cooperation framework in intellectual property matters for the two parties. The two agreed to work towards; the harmonization of their systems, exchange of documentation and technical information and to mutually cooperate in the development of training and joint capacity building programs including in user awareness.

The Annual Intellectual Property Conference organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) kicked of today at the ARIPO Secretariat. The Conference themed, “Harnessing Africa’s Effective Use and Exploitation of Copyright in the Digital Environment” is being held from 6 to 7 December, 2017.

The Meeting seeks to shed light on the way African countries can effectively harness the use and exploitation of Copyright in the digital world. The discussions will centre on the development of Copyright in the digital era. This will include Copyright and creativity for the transformation of African economies as well as shaping the Copyright and Related Rights systems in Africa.

The Director General of ARIPO, Mr. Fernando dos Santos in his official opening speech welcomed the conference delegates with special gratitude extended to the cooperation partners Africa University, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Government of Japan for being very supportive partners to the activities of the Organization.

Mr. Dos Santos pointed out that the Global royalty collections for creators have hit a new record high of €9.2 billion annually, up 6% on the previous year according to the 2017 International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) Report that was launched on 15 November 2017 in Paris, France. “It is indeed exciting to hear that Africa collections reported to CISAC increased by 9.5% (€67m) in 2016. 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”, added Mr. Dos Santos.

Mr. Santos highlighted that ARIPO will continue to undertake initiatives with strategic partners to contribute to the benefits and protection of the African creative industry market at large. ARIPO will seek to implement the regional voluntary Copyright registration and notification system taking into account other aspects of Copyright and Related Rights.

The Africa University Interim Vice Chancellor, Professor Pamela Machakanja, stated that there has been tremendous contribution by the Africa University (AU) in educating IP experts in Africa since the inception of the Master in Intellectual Property (MIP) programme in 2008.

“As a pan-African United Methodist church related institution of higher education, we will be forever grateful that our partners WIPO, ARIPO and the Government of Japan who saw it befitting for AU to house a renowned programme of Intellectual Property at Africa University, in Zimbabwe,” she said. Professor Machakanja made the speech on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, Professor Munashe Furusa.

 “As partners it is our hope that some of the papers that are going to be presented in this conference including MIP dissertations can also be published in the upcoming issues of the African Journal of Intellectual Property (AJIP). AU in partnership with ARIPO launched the AJIP at the Annual IP Conference last year.

Mr. Francis Gury the Director General of WIPO, represented by Mrs. Martha Chiwore, Training Officer at WIPO Academy,  stated that WIPO attaches particular importance to its program of cooperation with developing countries, least developed countries and countries with economies in transition. The main purpose of the AU, WIPO, and ARIPO cooperation is to support African countries to utilize their intellectual property system for development. The conference theme is an IP area of particular interest to ARIPO Member States and Africa as a whole, given the richness of the cultural and creative talent in the region and on the continent.

She further highlighted that today’s generation is familiar and comfortable with the digital world. Today, commerce, entertainment, knowledge, education and other aspects of life are digitalized, networked to various gadgets for home and office. The transition is the basis for an economic and industrial revolution to which Africa is already a part of. This annual conference avails the MIP an opportunity to expose students to an array of cutting edge IP issues; access to interact with leading IP academics and experts through discussing, debating and contributing to shaping the design of an international IP system that is fit to meet today’s challenges.

The 2017 IP Conference brought together 37 current MIP students from over 21 African Countries, MIP alumni, IP experts from across Africa as well as ARIPO staff members. The IP Conference will close with the 10th Anniversary celebrations of the MIP programme.