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Regional body for intellectual property rights knowledge

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By Matilda Majawa in Harare, Zimbabwe:

The African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (Aripo) has said poor awareness of intellectual property (IP) rights is contributing to the violation of creators’ rights in Africa.

Speaking during a three-day communication training on the Aripo regional intellectual property rights system in Harare, Zimbabwe, Aripo Director General Bemanya Twebaze also said, due to low levels of knowledge, African creators’ works are undervalued and unprotected.

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“There is a commonly held assumption in Africa that only educated people can protect an idea or use the IP system. As a result, although Africa is home to many talented creators, their works are primarily undervalued and unprotected,” Twebaze said.

He said low levels of IP awareness in Africa can be addressed if IP offices inform the world about innovations recorded at their offices.

“Occasionally, stories of African ingenuity surface in the international press or social media networks. We, as African communicators, must change this discourse and tell our stories. We must seek out and celebrate such examples of ingenuity, which is essential if we have to improve awareness of the continent’s innovative and creative resources’ social, economic and cultural value,” Twebaze said.

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He said increased awareness on IP rights can help Africa create employment opportunities and accelerate economic growth.

“The number of IP rights filings from Africa is dismal,” he said.

Malawi’s Ministry of Justice spokesperson Pirirani Masanjala said the training is important as it raises awareness on opportunities existing for Malawi to create wealth from the IP rights arena.

Aripo is an inter-governmental organisation that facilitates cooperation among member states in intellectual property matters.

The three-day training started on November 8.

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