The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) Director General, Mr. Bemanya Twebaze hosted ARIPO Member and Observer States Ambassadors at the Secretariat yesterday, 25 July 2023. The inaugural Ambassadors Engagement, which saw the participation of 12 Embassies accredited to Zimbabwe was set to appraise the Diplomatic Corps on ARIPO’s mandate and to discuss the development of Africa through a methodical intellectual property (IP) landscape.

As part of his opening remarks, the ARIPO Director General appreciated the Ambassadors for prioritizing the scheduled discussions around the pertinent subject of intellectual property and intellectual property rights.

Mr. Bemanya Twebaze presented a summary of statistics illustrating Africa’s staggeringly low patent and industrial design applications. In contrast with statistics from other continents such as Asia whose share of patent applications filed worldwide increased from 54.6% in 2011 to 67.6% in 2021, Africa’s statistics are worrisomely stagnant. 

“Any necessary and effective means justify the end to reverse this trend; hence the importance of our collaboration as African nations”, remarked Mr. Twebaze. “ARIPO has the capability to facilitate legal frameworks for innovation and creativity and promoting technology transfer in the priority areas of Africa with and on behalf of the Member States. However, we cannot achieve our goals without your continued support as our partners, and we are grateful for your advocacy on behalf of ARIPO, through your respective countries. Your efforts help to raise awareness and garner support for the importance of IP protection in Africa, and we are confident that together, we can continue to make progress toward a more innovative and prosperous future”, read the Director General’s speech to the Ambassadors.

Mr. Twebaze clarified the importance of collaborating with the Diplomatic Corps whose role in driving the intellectual property industry in Africa is crucial as they bridge the advocacy gap between the organization and their respective countries, as well as on international fora. 

“At any rate, we are passionate about contributing to solving Africa’s problems in the context of Agenda 2063 aspirations and the UN SDGs. Intellectual property remains the bridge between ideas and impact. We only need to collaborate to harness innovation to support agriculture for food security, the environment, and sustainable natural resource management. Together with renewable energy, climate change mitigation, sustainable industrialization, and human capital development, these form the crux of entry points in tackling Africa’s problems as cited by the African Union.

The occasion was graced by Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Honourable David Musabayana, who was the guest of honour. He expressed the Government of Zimbabwe’s commitment to supporting ARIPO’s mandate to harmonize, grow and develop IP in Africa as the Secretariat’s host country and an active Member State. 

In his remarks, Honourable Musabayana stated that “As the host country, our commitment to ARIPO is hinged on the understanding that Intellectual Property is crucial for the technological development of our country. In this regard, we are extremely mindful of the vital role that a regional organization and countries can play in harmonizing intellectual property laws, raising awareness and building capacity.” 

Honourable Musabayana also applauded Director General Bemanya Twebaze on engaging the Diplomatic Community and encouraged the continuity of similar interactions as part of efforts to increase the ARIPO Membership which currently totals 22 countries.

The engagement triggered intense round-table discussions with the Ambassadors inquiring further on current IP trends and challenges in the regional and international context. The Ambassadors took the opportunity to pledge more support to ARIPO in all manner possible reckoning the urgent need to accelerate the delivery of the agenda at hand. The Ambassadors also toured the ARIPO premises as part of the engagement, allowing them to familiarize with the infrastructure of the Secretariat.

The ARIPO Administrative Chairman, and Chief Registrar of the Companies and Intellectual Property Office of Zimbabwe, Mr. Willie Mushayi, also attended the engagement and expressed his gratitude to the esteemed Members of the Diplomatic Corps for supporting the advancement of IP in Africa through ARIPO.

Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia were the Member States in attendance, with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, South Africa and South Sudan attending as Observer States.