35th Session of Administrative Council of ARIPO opens in Accra
Mr Barton Oduro, Deputy Minister for Justice and Attorney General, on Monday called for collective engagement in the international debate on Intellectual Property (IP) to seek international legal instruments to protect the rich culture and heritage of Africa.
He argued that the question of protection of traditional knowledge, preservation of the continent’s biodiversity and ecosystems, patenting of life forms must not only be addressed at the regional level.
Mr Oduro who made the call at the opening of the 35th Session of the Administrative Council of the Africa Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) in Accra, underscored the critical role of IP in the development of societies.
He indicated that the inherent ability of persons to generate ideas, innovate and create artifacts that must be nurtured to improve their lives, build a prosperous and just society in order to eradicate poverty from the continent.
The three-day session which is being attended by delegates from the 18 African member states, would discuss among other burning issues the Ratification of the Swakopmund Protocol on Traditional knowledge and expressions of folklore, the Regional Framework for Plant Variety Protection, as well as Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for networking and connectivity of member states.
Delegates would also be briefed by experts from the World International Property Organization (WIPO) and ARIPO, on Topical IP issues during the Round Table for Heads of IP offices, which would be held concurrently with the 35th Session.
Mr Oduro said the Government of Ghana recognizing the importance of effective protection of intellectual property rights for economic growth had set up a National Intellectual Property Policy Committee, to draft a national IP policy which would set out the government’s vision in IP for the next decade.
He stated that government had also initiated reforms aimed at strengthening the infrastructure for the promotion of an effective intellectual property system through the modernization of IP offices countrywide.
“Additionally, all Intellectual Property laws which are Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) complaints have been reviewed to ensure that they fully reflect all the flexibilities under TRIPS Agreements” he said.
He said the Bills containing the amendments were ready to be placed before parliament.
He said it was expected that discussions on the various issues would enable delegates, as policy makers and implementers to offer creative and adequate responses to the challenges facing the IP systems and positively affect the realization of the goals of ARIPO.
Mr Gift Sibanda, Director General ARIPO, explained that the Ordinary Session of the Administrative Council was a very important annual event of the Organization as it availed it with an opportunity to take stock of its achievements and challenges.
He said it was also an opportune event for members of the Council to share experiences among both themselves and with their cooperating partners in their attempt to develop their IP systems at both national and regional levels.
He acknowledged the high level of collaboration between WIPO and ARIPO and thanked the Government of Ghana for accepting to host the 35th ARIPO Session and also all who worked hard to ensure the successful realization of the meeting.
In an address read for him, Mr Timothy Leatile Moalusi, out-going Chairman of the Administrative Council of ARIPO, thanked all the members of the Council as well as the Cooperating partners for their support during his tenure of office.
He highlighted some achievements during his tenure, of which the establishment of the Technical Committee and the approval of a new Organogram for the Organization were realized, paving the way for the recruitment of staff within the secretariat.
He said the approved Organogram also led to the establishment of the new post of an Internal Auditor, aimed at improving accountability and performance of the Secretariat.
Mr Moalusi however observed that communication was a major challenge between the Secretariat and Member States and expressed the hope that current efforts such as ICT upgrading, the File Transmission Protocols, the strengthening of synergies between ARIPO and its Member States would improve the situation.
He further suggested that the Administrative Council mandated the Secretariat to fully and effectively participate in discussions at the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) and assist Member States to follow the discussions as they were at the heart of their economies.