Dakar Hosts Ministerial Conference on Intellectual Property for an Emerging Africa

African Union (AU) Commissioner for Human Resources Science and Technology (HRST), H.E Mr. Martial De Paul Ikounga, delivered a speech on behalf of H.E, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), at the African Ministerial Conference on Intellectual Property, held from 3-5 November 2015 in Dakar, Republic of Senegal. The theme of the Conference: “Intellectual Property (IP) for an Emerging Africa” is timely and responds to the needs of the IP to achieve the high levels goals and objectives of the African Union Agenda 2063 such as the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), noted the AU Commissioner for HRST.

The opening ceremony on 3rd November 2015 also featured speeches from H.E Mrs. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius, H.E Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, Prime Ministers of the Republic of Senegal, Mr.  Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Mr. Takashi Kitahara, Ambassador of Japan to Senegal, and Mrs. F. Bintou Djibo, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Senegal.

All the speakers stressed on the importance of intellectual property (IP) in incentivizing innovation and creativity to promote economic and social development across Africa.

Close According to Commissioner Ikounga, it is the role of intellectual property organizations in Africa to push African leaders to understand that there is an entire edifice to build ‘that which will allow our youth to cross the Rubicon – to break the glass ceiling and partake in the excitement of the inventor, to dare to become the first in their country, in the region and even the first in the world to propose a solution to a social ill.”

Commissioner Ikounga noted that the conference will facilitate a better understanding and appreciation of the importance of the strategic use of the IP system as an engine for scientific and technological transformation, economic and social development and poverty reduction for Africa. He urged the governments to put in place IP policies and innovation strategies aimed at building the countries’ capacity to apply science, technology and innovation for development. This, the Commissioner said, will contribute to advancing the implementation of a framework and infrastructure which enhances the business performance and competitiveness of creative industries to support economic and cultural development. (See complete speech of HRST Commissioner on the AU Website: au.int ).

The Director General of WIPO, Mr. Gury noted that, the source of all innovation and creativity is human. “Africa is the cradle of humanity, so it is in this sense the origin of all innovation and creativity that characterizes our species as human being”. He said adding that intellectual property is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition of a healthy and vibrant innovation ecosystem.

Mauritius President Gurib-Fakim cited positive economic growth prospects for African countries over the next decade and highlighted the imperative need for Africa to protect IP rights in order to build sustainable knowledge economies by leveraging the benefits of science, technology and innovation. “In this globally fiercely competitive international economic landscape, the creation and management including protection of knowledge will be central to building and spearheading wealth creation and integration in the global economy,” said President Gurib-Fakim.

Noting that the protection of IP rights should be accompanied by adequate measures of incentives and support, President Gurib-Fakim called for the setting up of a fund for African innovators to access the necessary capital to support start-ups.“Those nations that go all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow.” Concluded the President.

Senegalese Prime Minister Dionne called the conference timely, due to the challenges facing Africa. He said intellectual property can help ensure sustainable and inclusive development resulting in poverty reduction and increased economic competitivity. “Innovation is the basis of all development”. Stressed the Prime Minister.

Speaking on behalf of the Government of Japan, Ambassador Kitahara said “it is essential to assure this appropriate protections via the intellectual property system and guarantee its strategic use.

The opening ceremony was followed by a press conference and a high level segment on “Africa in a Knowledge-Based Economy-Challenges and Opportunities during which Commissioner Ikounga outlined the work done by the African Union in the area of the protection of intellectual property in the continent.

The Dakar meeting brought together over 400 participants, including some 50 ministers responsible for intellectual property, trade and culture as well as private sector groups. Renowned trademark African creators and producers such as Alphadi Siednaly, Sadiya Gueye, Hicham Lahlou, among others were also in attendance. Participants exchanged views on how IP can contribute to the realization of the priorities identified in the Common African Position (CAP) on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the African Agenda 2063.

The ministerial meeting was preceded on November 2, 2015 by a workshop bringing together some 50 young African innovators and creators to talk about IP, innovation and creativity.

The conference was jointly organized by WIPO, the African Union (AU) the Government of the Republic of Senegal and the Government of Japan under the Japan Funds-in-Trust for Africa and Least-Developed Countries (LDCs).

Source: African Union Commission (AUC)

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