By Dr. Outule Rapuleng, Head of ARIPO Academy

Amidst the ravages of the Covid-19 global pandemic, ARIPO continues to partner with the three universities in the Member States to offer the Masters in Intellectual Property programs. In 2020 some disruptions saw some of the institutions closed due to Covid-19. The following is a snap update of the progress that continues to be registered with the MIP program in these tough and challenging times:

 Africa University

Africa University admitted the 14th Cohort starting May 2021. The students are on the Distance Learning (DL) phase of the program. The DL phase is expected to end in July 2021. The program has shifted the research phase and residential phases into a virtual delivery from August to December 2021. As such, during this phase, the students will continue taking their lessons from their respective countries. Should the pandemic situation improve, the students will come to Africa University in January 2022 to complete their studies in person. They are scheduled to wrap up and graduate in the first week of June 2022. 

The program was restructured as follows:

Phase 1: WIPO Distance Learning: May 7 to July 30, 2021

Phase 2: Africa University Online: August 2, 2021, to December 6, 2021

Phase 3: Africa University and ARIPO Residential Learning: February 1 to May 20. 2022

Phase 3 continued: Finalization and Submission of Dissertation to Africa University: May 20 to June 4, 2022

As the 14th Cohort settled into the DL phase, the 13th Cohort finalized their research and prepared to complete their studies and graduate. In 2020, the three partners WIPO, ARIPO, and Africa University, resolved to offer the residential phase of the program virtually in view of the unrelenting and unpredictable pandemic outlook. At no point were the students ever to come to Africa University for face-to-face instruction. It is thus no small feat that Africa University held its second virtual graduation on the weekend of July 3, 2021. The 13th Cohort took all its MIP courses entirely online graduated 33 students, among 524 other graduands. The occasion of the 27th graduation coincided with the installation of the 5th Chancellor of Africa University, Bishop Gaspar Joao Domingos, from Angola. 

The 13th Cohort MIP thus came to an end against all odds. As is customary, ARIPO continued with its gesture to recognize and appreciate the merit in the MIP class by offering prizes to deserving students. The prizes are Best Graduate Student in Intellectual Property Studies, which Mr. Kenneth Nuwagaba received from Uganda, and Graduate Student Who Has Demonstrated Leadership, received by Ms. Gladys Moyo from Zimbabwe. The recipients were awarded cash prize money amounting to US$500 each.

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)

KNUST closed its halls of learning in April 2020 for almost a year due to the pandemic. The University only re-opened in January 2021, admitting the 3rd Cohort of the Master of Philosophy in Intellectual Property program. The KNUST MIP program is a 2year program, the first 12 months of which is fully residential for in-person instruction. The other 12 months are dedicated to the research dissertation. The program admitted 12 students from Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. KNUST managed to parry off the storm of the pandemic and successfully delivered in-person classes.

The University is also in the process of graduating the first group from its Cohort 1. A substantial number of students have defended their theses and are now ready to graduate.

University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM)

By and large, UDSM has been the least affected by Covid-19 in terms of the MIP delivery and administration. The pandemic-induced global lockdown coincided with the University recess. When regular business resumed in the 3rd quarter of 2020, the second MIP class was admitted and started lessons with the WIPO-administered DL phase for six weeks (September to October 2020). Upon completing the DL phase, the students traveled to Dar es Salaam to start their residential learning lessons in November 2020 and completed them in March 2021. They have since returned to their respective homes to continue with the research phase of the program.

All the while, the 1st Cohort was working on their research dissertations. Three students from the 1st Cohort have since graduated. Preparations are ongoing to admit the 3rd Cohort, with the admission advertisement out and due to close end of July 2021. Mindful that the future is still fraught with uncertainty due to the Covid-19 scourge, the University plans to admit the 3rd Cohort.