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.

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.