Zimbabwe is making tremendous progress in boosting understanding of the value of Intellectual Property (IP) for socio-economic development, particularly among SMEs and young innovators, the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) has said.
According to ARIPO chairperson for Administrative Council, Willie Mushayi, Zimbabwe is one of the founding members of 22 member intergovernmental organization grouping that facilitates cooperation among its Member States in intellectual property matters.
“As a country we have moved very fast and we have made serious progress. We are one of the founding members of ARIPO and we part of the family of intellectual property. We have been engaging SMEs, students in universities,”
“The starting point is awareness, we need to carry the message out to them and also fruitful engagement where it matters even as far out there away from the cities and also try to follow up with innovation coming out of schools we need to pursue each creation and make sure we take it through the whole process,” said Mushayi.
Most of emerging businesses in the country have not registered their trademarks and other forms of intellectual property.
Africa as a whole accounts for just about 0.6 percent of the total applications filed internationally owing to various reasons such as lack of awareness and proper ICT infrastructure.
“I’m aware we (in Zimbabwe) have some in manufacturing and some of the IPs are not yet protected and not sufficiently covered. We would want to pursue that and help them by making sure that it’s not too expensive and too cumbersome,” added Mushayi.
ARIPO this year launched a Regional Intellectual Property (IP) database with published IP titles from the ARIPO Member States and is not only be accessible online but is free for all.
More often, SMEs view registration of intellectual property as a needless cost, especially when the majority of them are informal.
“The price is never really comfortable. We are trying to stagger the pricing regime so that we have a special facilities for students without compromising quality of work that goes into it and we are in engagement with government to try to subsidize students and SMEs so that they are able to file their applications.”
But research has shown that registration of intellectual property has immense benefits to businesses and can impact lives positively.
ARIPO Director General, Bemanya Twebaze says this is more relevant in this digital era.
“We are now in a knowledge economy were we use our creative and innovativeness and this is related in intangible asset and our focus is to turn those intangible assets and demonstrate that they can create tangible value,”
“We want to turn ideas into assets, assets that can change people’s lives. Previously we have been talking about IP in an elitist manner but we must understand that it’s important to address matters of for example food security. Today we talk about scarcity of food but we can generate using IP to improve seeds to address food security. SMES are branding their products they are making them competitive, they are accessing information so their tools are going to help us access reliable and credible information as far as IP is concerned.”
ARIPO is currently undertaking a workshop on integration and implementation of IP Tools for its members states at its Harare Secretariat.
The member states of ARIPO comprise of Botswana, The Kingdom of Estwatini, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, The Kingdom of Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and