By Sanna Jawara, Head of Copyright Office of The Gambia.
The words and language has changed at the level of World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) urging African member countries to do more and change the intellectual Property (IP), especially Copyright and Related Rights landscape in Africa for the benefit, interest and welfare of their people and the globe at large.
This highly resolved and committed statements were made at the Fourth Annual Copyright Symposium for ARIPO Member States and Observer States on the theme “Shaping The Copyright and Related Rights Landscape In Africa” held from 19-21 October 2022, In Harare, Zimbabwe.
The meeting provided an opportunities and platform for delegates to meet face to face after a long spelt by COVID 19 outbreak and have direct interactions, discussing and approving matters affecting effective and sustainable development of Copyright and Related Rights in member countries. The meeting was a follow up to the high level virtual conference held in October 2021, where the need to have an effective and sustainable implementation of the Nairobi Strategic Plan was discussed and finalized by WIPO, ARIPO and OAPI.
The delegates drawn from ARIPO English Speaking member and observer states, were prepared on updated information on progress made and challenges faced on the status of Copyright and Related Development in their countries. Such information deeply and seriously enhanced and enriched strategic discussions, which greatly assisted participants coming out with tangible out comes mapping their national journeys by setting up specific goals for year(s) to come.
This year’s conference was preceded by two days training of statisticians from ARIPO member countries on collection and analyzing data relating to economic contribution of creative industries to the gross domestic product (GDP) of member countries.
The conference was within the framework of implementation of Nairobi Strategic Plan for effective development of Copyright and Related Rights in Africa with key points, measures and responsibilities taking various stakeholders such as Copyright Offices, Collective Management Organisations and policy makers.
Objectives of this sub-regional meeting of Copyright and Related Rights champions were not limited to discuss critical Copyright and Related Right issues and explore ways to address them, especially critical and important issues relating to Copyrights in the digital environment for the benefit of right holders, users and other stakeholders.
It seeks to promote efficiencies of administration and management by Copyright Offices (COs) and Collective Management Organisations (CMOs)
The three days meeting was characterized by presentation of researched papers on various thematic areas and sessions meant to shape Copyright and Related Rights Landscape in Africa and such were not limited to report on training for statisticians on collecting and analyzing data relating to the economic contribution of creative industries, importance of statistics for advocating the Copyright and Related Rights agenda.
Other sessions and presented papers covered interactive dialogue at national and international levels on the role of data for Copyright and Related Rights. The legal frameworks covering laws, treaties, regulations, implementation strategies and measures. Intellectual Property (IP) innovation and creativity taking place at national, regional and international level were discussed with experiences in the sector as well as commercialization of creative assets, opportunities and challenges at national, regional and international markets.
Building sustainable markets followed drafting and presentation of national action plans on creative industries were jointly done by country representatives and later submitted to World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) to support their implementation processes.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Ms Sherine Greiss, Senor Program Officer Copyright and Creative Industries Sector at the World Intellectual Property Organisation, urges and inspired participants and stakeholders to do more and develop intellectual property (IP), especially Copyright and Related Rights in Africa, saying that, there is no shortage of creativity in Africa and that Africa is blessed with a very youthful population with a lot of potentials that needs to be taped to develop the sector.
According to the WIPO Senior Program Officer, there is a need to raise awareness for intellectual property (IP) development in Africa and that African arts is vibrant citing the music, fashion, advertising, film and other industries as examples over the need to have the sector developed. She emphasized the need for Africa to look at intellectual property (IP) as a very important sector development of Africa, despite challenges faced by many countries in Africa.
She made reference to training of statisticians from ARIPO member countries on data collection and analysis of economic contribution of the sector to the member countries. She spoke about the role of Copyright Offices and Collective Management Organisations towards having an effective Copyright and Related Rights development in Africa
Mr Bemanya Twebaze, Director General (DG) African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO), described the program as timely and very welcome as far as development of intellectual property (IP), especially Copyright and Related Rights in Africa is concerned. He cited continue support by WIPO to ARIPO and also cited Cape Verde as the latest African Country becoming an ARIPO member state.
He reference to a similar conference held in 2017 and what happened in the Copyright and Related Rights landscape in Africa to date. He spoke about prospects for creation of database and the use of voluntary registry system as per the Kampala Protocol and the need to have statisticians, Copyright Offices and Collective Management Organisations be working together on data for economic contributions of the sector.
Ms Sylvie Forbin, Deputy Director General (DDG) of World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), addressed participants on the second day of the meeting with inspirational words about the need to have an effective Copyright and Related Rights development in Africa and readiness of WIPO to support such programs on various scales, especially through Copyright Offices and Collective Management Organisations.
She emphasized the need for copyright offices, collective management organisations and statisticians to work together on data for economic contribution of the sector. She expressed hope about the future of Intellectual Property (IP), especially Copyright and Related Rights in Africa and expressed hope to see more projects coming from Africa.
Ms Maureen Fondo, Head of Copyright Division at African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) chaired the sessions that generated energy among participants and their resolved to do more for effective development of Copyright and Related Rights in Africa, in line with theme of the program “Shaping Copyright and Related Rights Landscape in Africa”.