At the kind invitation of the Embassy of Japan in Zimbabwe, the Director General of ARIPO, Mr. Fernando dos Santos participated on behalf of the Organization at the just ended Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) summit, which was held in Nairobi, Kenya from 27 to 28 August 2016.

This TICAD initiative according to the President of Kenya, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta affords Africa access to, “Japanese support to a whole range of transformative programmes … by way of grants, loans and through technical cooperation [which] is already giving Africa some clearly great dividends in infrastructure; energy, agriculture as well as human resource capacities and education.”

ARIPO is benefitting from the kind assistance extended to the developing world by the Government of Japan through the country’s Funds-in-Trust held at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Through these funds, Japan is supporting IP training and awareness programmes at ARIPO, including scholarships being provided to some Masters in Intellectual Property students at Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe. In the 9th cohort of students enrolled this year for the programme at the university, 10 students from different countries in Africa are beneficiaries of the scholarships provided through these funds.

As ARIPO seeks to promote an IP driven economic agenda for Africa, it is at platforms such as this that the Organization can position itself to become a significant player in the continental economic and development discourse.

The Summit was co-organized by the Government of Japan, African Union Commission, United Nations Development Programme, The World Bank Group and UN’s Office of the Special Adviser on Africa.

Three Technical Committees of the Administrative Council of ARIPO are meeting in Harare from 17 – 19 August 2016. The three committees are; Technical Committee on Industrial Property, Technical Committee on Plant Variety Protection and Technical Committee on Copyright and Related Rights.

They are meeting to deliberate on several issues including proposals to amend among others the ARIPO protocols and the consolidated Rules of Procedure of the Technical Committees to incorporate the specific functions of the individual committees.

The three technical committees are also considering reports on the various activities and initiatives carried out by the Secretariat in the year in discharging its mandate. After these considerations the committees will then make recommendations to the next session of the Administrative Council for possible adoption of the proposals and other technical matters under discussion.

With regard to the Plant Varieties Protection mandate, one of the matters the responsible committee is considering is the draft regulations for implementing the Arusha Protocol reviewed by an expert meeting that was held in June 2016.

The Director General of ARIPO officially opened the sessions of the Technical Committees in a joint ceremony attended by Ambassadors from four of the ARIPO Member States namely; Ghana, Kenya, Namibia and Sudan.

The ARIPO Secretariat is helping the Republic of Namibia in reviewing its draft regulations under the Industrial Property Act during a two day working session organized at the ARIPO headquarters from 15 to 16 August 2016. A two member Namibian delegation composed of Ms Ainna V. Kaundu, Head Industrial Property Rights in the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade & SME Development and Mrs Vivienne Katjiuongua, Legal Advisor & Company Secretary at Business and Intellectual Property Authority of Namibia is at the ARIPO secretariat for the working session. The ARIPO team is headed by the Director of Intellectual Property, Mr. Christopher J. Kiige.

The two day working session comes at a time Namibia is drafting regulations under its Industrial Property Act. Namibia wants to leverage on the ARIPO Secretariat’s expertise and experience to review and advise on the provisions of the regulations relating to Patents, Utility Models vis-a-vis the administration of the same under the Harare Protocol on Patents, Utility Models and Industrial Designs and also the Banjul Protocol on Marks.

In an effort to enhance its visibility in the Member States through participation in the latter’s relevant  national events, ARIPO with the kind facilitation of the Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA) took part as an exhibitor at the 52nd edition of the Zambia International Trade Fair that was held in Ndola from 29 June to 05 July 2016.

The highly successful event, which ran under the theme, “Enhanced Value Addition for Job Creation” saw thousands of visitors from across the country and region visiting the trade fair grounds. The ARIPO exhibition stand received huge numbers of people who were interested in its activities. Among the visitors who came to the stand where students, members of the local universities as well as reporters from print and broadcast media houses. Members of the media requested ARIPO to educate them more about its activities and intellectual property matters in general.

The highlight of the activities at the ARIPO stand was a visit by the Guest of Honor, and Mozambican President, His Excellency, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi and the host President, His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu at the ARIPO stand accompanied by the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Honourable Margaret Mwanakatwe. The two Presidents enquired on how business was at the stand and wanted to know the information that ARIPO was sharing with the fair visitors.

Other notable visitors who came to the stand were the Deputy Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry of the Republic of Zambia, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, the Chairman of the PACRA Board, Professor Mpazi Sinjela and the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of PACRA, Mr. Antony Bwembya. The high level visitors appreciated the participation of the Organization at the fair as well as the quality of informational materials that was on display.

The expert review meeting on the Draft ARIPO Regulations for the Implementation of the Arusha Protocol finished its task on Friday 17 June 2016. The experts, however, created a subcommittee to clean up the new draft regulations on their behalf for further scrutiny. The sub-committee was made up of experts from Liberia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia (Chairing) and Zimbabwe. The consultant, Dr. Evans Sikinyi, who guided the experts in the review process, was also part of this sub-committee.

The sub-committee met from Saturday 18 to Sunday 19 June for this purpose. The draft, which was produced by the sub-committee and is based on the recommendations of the expert review meeting, will now be sent to all delegates who participated in the expert review meeting for further scrutiny and comments. The ARIPO secretariat will consolidate the comments into a draft to be submitted to the Technical Committee on Plant Variety Protection. The final text of the draft regulations will, after this review, be submitted to the Fortieth Session of the Administrative Council for adoption.

ARIPO is undertaking an expert review meeting on the Draft Regulations for the Implementation of the Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants from 14 to 17 June 2016 in Harare, Zimbabwe.

The four-day meeting, which is being chaired by the Republic of Zambia was officially opened by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Eng. Ringson Chitsiko, who applauded ARIPO for having developed the Arusha Protocol and acknowledged the extensive work that was put into it by experts from the member states. Engineer Chitsiko urged delegates to appreciate that the development of new varieties of plants was important to African food security as it was meant to improve agricultural productivity as well as provide farmers with high yielding pest and disease free seeds.

After the adoption of the Arusha protocol for the protection of new varieties of plants in July 2015, the ARIPO secretariat was tasked to formulate draft implementing regulations for the protocol, which will guide the operations of the protocol. Thus, experts from ministries of agriculture in the member states and national IP Offices, plant breeders and civil society organizations are taking part in the review meeting. Among the civil society organizations in attendance are African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) and Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA). Other plant breeders rights organizations participating in the meeting are the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) of the European Union, Groupement National Interprofessionnel des Semences et Plants (GNIS) and International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).

While deliberations on the opening day were mainly centred on the key provisions of the Arusha Protocol vis–a – vis provisions of other existing global plant variety protection systems and also on the benefits of plant varieties protection, the meeting will in the subsequent days comprehensively review the draft regulations to make them amenable to the situation and demands of the African farmer. The Arusha Protocol relates to food security, which is an issue of great concern for African and developing countries. The protection that would be given to plant breeders will incentivise them to propagate new plant varieties, which will ultimately enhance food security.

The meeting is expected to produce the final draft ARIPO regulations, which will be presented to the Administrative Council of ARIPO for adoption.