COMMUNIQUE OF THE SIXTEENTH SESSION OF THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS OF ARIPO HELD IN LILONGWE, REPUBLIC OF MALAWI, ON NOVEMBER 23, 2017

1. The Council of Ministers of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) (hereafter referred to as “the Organization”) held its Sixteenth Session at the Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC), Lilongwe, Malawi on November 23 and 24, 2017.

2. The Honourable Samuel Tembenu, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of the Republic of Malawi, officially opened the Sixteenth Session of the Council of Ministers. In his speech, Honourable Tembenu indicated that the Session of the Council of Ministers afforded Ministers the opportunity to take stock of the successes and challenges facing ARIPO and its Member States in promoting the use of Intellectual Property (IP) as an engine of growth in the respective countries. He underscored the fact that most economies of the ARIPO Member States are agriculture-based and therefore incumbent on the countries to develop appropriate legal instruments that will create conducive environment for value addition to agricultural commodities.

3. The Honourable Tembenu commended ARIPO for the development of the Arusha Protocol which was adopted on July 6, 2015 in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania. He applauded the Administrative Council for the adoption of the Regulations for the Implementation of the Arusha Protocol at its Forty-First Session. He called on Honourable Ministers to ensure their respective Governments ratify the Arusha Protocol as soon as possible to enable its implementation for the benefit of Member States.

4. The Council of Ministers elected Malawi, Liberia and Sao Tome and Principe to serve as Chairman, First Vice-Chairman and Second Vice-Chairman respectively in the 2018-2019 biennium.

5. The Council of Ministers took note of the report of the Chairman of the Administrative Council regarding the decisions that the Administrative Council took at its Forty-First Session held in Lilongwe from November 20 to 22, 2017. The report highlighted the major achievements made by the Organization during the reporting period including the adoption of the amendments to the Harare Protocol and the Banjul Protocol, adoption of the Regulations for the Implementation of the Arusha Protocol on Plant Variety Protection, the inauguration in December 2016 of the extension of the Building of the Headquarters of ARIPO, among others.

6. The Council of Ministers took note of the report of the Director General which provided a summary of the activities carried out in the 2016-2017 biennium and commended the Organization for its contribution to the development of the national and regional IP systems.

7. The Council of Ministers considered developments of Intellectual Property in Africa related to the creation of the Pan-African Intellectual Property (PAIPO) by the Heads of State and Government of the African Union. The Council of Ministers underscored the important roles that ARIPO and OAPI have played and continue to play in building the national and regional Intellectual Property systems in Africa and affirmed their support to the two Organisations

8. The Council of Ministers reiterated its position that PAIPO should focus on policy coordination and strategic direction for the development of the Intellectual Property system in Africa.

9. The Council of Ministers resolved that the Secretariat of ARIPO should facilitate high level missions to the Member States, in particular to those that signed the PAIPO Statute to sensitize and engage their Governments on the need to fully support and safeguard ARIPO and OAPI.

10. The Council of Ministers considered the outcome document of the High-Level Meeting on Promoting Policy Coherence on Health Technology Innovation and Access in the ARIPO Region that was organized by Government of Malawi, with the support of the UNDP in Lilongwe from November 1 to 3, 2017. The Council of Ministers mandated the Secretariat to explore and formulate concrete proposals aimed at addressing policy and legal incoherencies that impact access to health technologies and in the Member States of ARIPO, take actions accordingly and report to the Governing Bodies of the Organization.

11. The Council of Ministers noted the low uptake of the Intellectual Property systems and its use to foster creativity and innovation in the ARIPO Member States in particular, and Africa as a whole, and mandated the ARIPO Secretariat to undertake studies to identify the causes and make appropriate recommendations on the remedial actions.

12. The Council of Ministers expressed its gratitude to the Government of Republic of Malawi for the warm hospitality and excellent arrangements made for the Sixteenth Session of the Council of Ministers.

13. The Council of Ministers further expressed its appreciation and gratitude to the cooperating partners of the Organization for their continued support and participation in the Sixteenth Session of the Council of Ministers of ARIPO.

14. Eleven (11) Ministers and Five (5) Accredited Officials participated in the Session of the Council of Ministers. Also present were Observer Member States, Inter-governmental Organization, other Cooperating Partners and IP Practitioners.

The Forty-first Session of the Administrative Council of ARIPO has started in Lilongwe, Malawi. The Annual meeting being held from 20-22 November 2017 at the Bingu International Conference Centre and will discuss several documents on the administrative aspects of the Organization including the proposed budget and programme of activities for the year 2018, proposals to amend some of the ARIPO treaties to continually keep them in line with international trends.

The Malawi Solicitor General, Mrs Janet Banda, officially opened the 41st Session. In her remarks, she applauded the Council Members for the support accorded to in the past year. She noted that Africa should ensure it comes up with its own needs-based innovations for a sustainable economic growth which should also be people-centered development.

The outgoing Chairperson of the Administrative Council, Mr. Anthony Bwembya, in his remarks said that during the last 41 years, ARIPO had registered numerous and great achievements which made the Organization a recognized Intellectual Property hub in Africa. Mr Bwembya is the CEO and Registrar of the Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA) in Zambia.

In his two-year tenure of office, some of the remarkable achievements was the accession of the Republic of Liberia to the Swakopmund Protocol on October 25, 2016, bringing the number of Contracting States to 7 and the completion of the construction of the new building of the ARIPO Headquarters that was inaugurated on 9 December 2016.

The ARIPO Director General, Mr Fernando dos Santos thanked the members of the Administrative Council for making time to attend the Annual meeting which showed commitment in supporting ARIPO's mandate.

The Administrative Council session preludes the Sixteenth Session of the Council of Ministers to be held from 23-24 at the same venue.

The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) has launched the 2017 Global Collections Report in Paris, France. The Report launched today, 15 November 2017, shows Global royalty collections for creators have hit a new record high of €9.2 billion annually, up 6% on the previous year.

The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization's Director General, Mr Fernando dos Santos, says this is a good trend globally and especially for Africa.

"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.

For example, the music collections increased by +11.1% and digital collections have grown but only account for 6% of the global royalty collections. The Broadcasting industry are major users of
creative content in Africa yet from the recent survey undertaken by CISAC only 40% are licensed. Africa needs to improve its copyright and related rights landscape to ensure transfer of value benefits to creators who in most cases creative work are undervalued and receive unsatisfactory compensation.

The Policy and Legal Frameworks for African countries has 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," says dos Santos.

For more on the report and to download a copy visit http://www.cisac.org/Newsroom/News-Releases/Creators-global-royalty-collections-hit-record-9.2-billion.

The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) Roving Seminar on Intellectual Property (IP) for Academic & Institutions took place at the University of Rwanda (UR) from 2 to 3 November 2017 on the theme “Fostering Creativity & Innovation for Economic Growth and Development in Africa.”

The Seminar was organised by ARIPO in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board and the University of Rwanda.

In his opening remarks, the Director General of ARIPO, Mr Fernando dos Santos highlighted that ARIPO took the initiative to organise roving seminars in Universities and research institutions after realising that a general awareness raising initiative was far from yielding immediate and concrete results and create the desired impact. He said that it was also observed that creators of Intellectual Property endeavours and custodians of knowledge reside in universities and research institutions.

The Guest of Honour, Dr Christine Gasinzirwa, Director General for Science, Technology and Research in the Ministry of Education, who represented the Minister of Education  said the Ministry of Education is grateful to ARIPO for its role in IP awareness in Africa. Dr Gasinzirwa called upon researchers at the University of Rwanda to “stop those who reap where they did not sow” by ensuring that the results of their research is protected by Intellectual Property and commercialised.

Various topics that were discussed at the seminar included the Intellectual Property Principles and Concepts, the Intellectual Property Legal Framework for Rwanda, the Role of ARIPO in Shaping the IP Landscape in Africa, the ARIPO Registration System, Using Trademarks and Industrial Designs as Tools for Branding and Value Addition to University Outputs, Commercialization of University Research Results, among others.   The Seminar was attended by more than 100 participants from the University of Rwanda and other research institutions such as the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA), the Integrated Polytechnical Regional Centres (IPRC), the East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTCO), the Institute of Legal Practice and Development (ILPD).

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Council for the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is the body responsible for administering the TRIPS Agreement, which is one of the multiple WTO Agreements, dealing specifically with Intellectual Property matters. The Council particularly monitors the operation of the TRIPS Agreement.

At its meeting of 8 to 9 June 2010, the WTO Council for TRIPS granted to ARIPO and OAPI an ad-hoc observer status on a meeting-by-meeting basis. The WTO Council for TRIPS has from then been inviting ARIPO to attend its meetings.

Discussions have been going on in order to grant a permanent observer status to ARIPO and its sister Organization OAPI.

On 20 October 2017, a new move has been registered because the TRIPS Council, at its ordinary session that took place in Geneva from 19 to 20 October 2017, decided to grant a permanent observer status to ARIPO and OAPI.

The Head of the ARIPO Academy conducted a benchmarking exercise with the Global Intellectual Property Academy (GIPA) at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, Virginia, USA from 25 to 28 September, 2017.

Mr Outule Rapuleng met with Ms Miriam DeChant, the Director of GIPA, to deliberate how ARIPO could leverage its advantage/position as a regional center of excellence for Africa to coordinate training for its Member States as well as how to manage growth and track quality of training.

Other items discussed were the programs and target groups to be trained, including ARIPO Members States and non-Member States, and the impact and outcome of the training interventions.

The meeting also talked about the bilateral cooperation between the ARIPO Academy and GIPA within the broader context of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by ARIPO and USPTO in 2015.

Mr Rapuleng also got a chance to meet the Patent Attorney for USPTO, Africa Team of Office of Policy and International Affairs (OPIA) at USPTO, Senior Trade Counsel, Senior Attorneys/Advisors for the respective departments of the office namely Copyright, Trademarks, the Academy, Enforcement and Patents as well as the GIPA Distance Learning Team.

GIPA is managed by OPIA and provides intellectual property training in a variety of different topics primarily that focus on enforcement, patents, trademarks, and copyrights.