2017 IP Conference on Copyright and Related Rights starts in Harare

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Participants at the 2017 IP Conference Participants at the 2017 IP Conference

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.