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‘Intellectual property crucial in development’

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By Matilda Majawa in Harare, Zimbabwe:

Director General of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (Aripo), Bemanya Twebaze, has said intellectual property (IP) represents a significant part of developed and developing economies, such as Malawi, through creative industries.

Twebaze made the remarks on Tuesday during the opening ceremony of a three-day communication training workshop on intellectual property rights system taking place in Harare, Zimbabwe.

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“For example, creative industries, which are mainly copyright, contribute 10 percent of Nigeria’s economy and 5.4 percent of Botswana’s economy,” Twebaze said.

He added that Small and Medium Enterprises that use intellectual property have a 50 percent advantage in income over those that do not use it.

“In Africa, IP awareness can transform lives by helping reduce poverty, creating employment and accelerating economic growth. For this reason, we are intentionally conducting this training to ensure that, ultimately, we are all well-versed with the mandate of Aripo, as well as the IP system and its potential benefits,” Twebaze said.

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Ministry of Justice spokesperson, Pirirani Masanjala, who is participating in the workshop, said the training is important as it raises awareness of the opportunities existing for Malawi to create wealth from the IP rights arena.

“It is imperative that as a nation we are fully cognisant of the power of innovators and inventors to generate wealth for themselves and the country which ultimately pushes us forward to fulfilling Malawi 2063,” he said.

Masanjala further said consideration should be given to the importance of IP forms such as traditional knowledge, patents, geographic indications and the role they play in driving our development agenda.

“However, such awareness can only be achieved if we have communicators, both in government and among journalists, who are well equipped and conversant with IP rights,” he said.

Twenty-two member countries including Malawi and 12 potential member countries’ representatives are attending the training, which commenced on Tuesday and will conclude on Thursday.

The training has been jointly organised by Aripo and the Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation Project in Africa with funding from the European Union.

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