A Sub-Regional Workshop on the Development and Effective Use of Intellectual Property Statistics for ARIPO Member States, which was held in Harare, Zimbabwe, has called on African IP offices to value the importance of IP statistics reporting. The workshop, which was organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) in cooperation with the Government of Zimbabwe and ARIPO at the request of the Director General of ARIPO, Mr. Fernando dos Santos, began on 14 September and ended on 16 September. Ms Virginia Mabhiza, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in the Government of Zimbabwe, officially opened the workshop.
The important workshop came after the realization that most African countries, particularly in the sub-region, seem not to value the importance of generating and publicizing statistics with regard to their intellectual property activities. According to WIPO, only 25 out of the 54 African countries have been consistently availing their data to the international body. In the workshop therefore, it has come out that, had all African states been providing their statistical data to international and regional bodies, the gloomy picture of Africa’s contribution to global intellectual property transactions would be significantly different. Mr. Mosahid Khan, Head IP Statistics Section at WIPO and the Director General of ARIPO, Mr. Fernando dos Santos said that Africa has but itself to blame for the sad picture that is portrayed globally and urged ARIPO Member States to realize that statistics also help them in forecasting, planning and monitoring their IP activities. They urged them to develop a culture of basing decisions on accurate and validated data as incorrect data leads to wrong decisions being taken.
Mrs Joyce Banya, Senior Counsellor, in WIPO’s Regional Bureau for Africa, said that the workshop was one of the best and most successful of all the workshops she has organized in the region. Each year, WIPO’s Economic and Statistics Division sends out questionnaires, which IP offices worldwide are expected to complete and return. Regrettably, many African countries including some ARIPO Member States do not respond to the questionnaires. In their presentations, most of the Member States acknowledged that they indeed should start to take requests for statistics from the ARIPO Secretariat and WIPO seriously and thanked the organizers for convening the workshop and Mr. Dos Santos, in particular, for requesting for the workshop.