AU/ARIPO/WIPO celebrate Masters in Intellectual Property Day


Jeanette Dadzie
IPAO Correspondent
20 August 2018
The 20th of August 2018 marked the commemoration of the annual Masters in Intellectual Property Day at Africa University and the launch of the 11th MIP Cohort comprising 32 students from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Botswana, Mozambique, Nigeria and Cameroon. Every year, students from across Africa specialising in a breadth of fields converge on the AU campus to commence the intensive teaching portion of the MIP Programme. The theme of this years’ launch was, “Intellectual Property and Innovation.”

The programme stakeholders graced the occasion to not only meet the 11th cohort but to also extend their continued support to the MP programme its vision and its continued impact. In attendance were the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) represented by Counsellor Martha Chikowore, Mr. Fernando dos Santos, the Director General of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), Mr. Kenji Miyagawa representing the Government of Japan, Mr Mugaisanwa, Director in the office of the Minister of State for Manicaland and business leaders from Mutare and Harare.

The guest of honour and key note speaker Professor Robson Mafoti, Chief Executive Officer of the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Center (SIRDC), stressed the importance of Intellectual Property (IP) saying,

“IP is a major asset which if leveraged and managed effectively can contribute towards increasing the brand of firms and the wealth of nations.” He went on to add, “Success today depends on harnessing the power of the human mind to create wealth. To generate wealth from IP requires appropriate laws, systems, enforcement mechanisms and competencies.”

Mr. Kwirirai Chigerwe, an alumnus of Africa University (2014 Master of Arts in Leadership and Management) and the General Manager of the Beverage Division and Marketing of Tanganda Tea Company, was a guest speaker at the occasion where he spoke to the practical implementation of IP in the daily operations and branding elements of the beverages giant.

Innovation and IP go hand in hand as the intellectual property of inventors needs to be protected from duplication or theft. The lack of sufficient IP protections and systems can be detrimental to the generation of new innovations within a country, can lead to millions of dollars in revenue loss and in the worst cases can stifle innovation altogether. Innovation is integral to development as through investment in research, the inefficiency of existing processes can be overcome providing cleaner, faster and cheaper ways of producing goods and materials.

The development narrative within Africa is transitioning to one that hinges on the continent producing and exporting finished products to compete on the global market and for local consumption as opposed to economies that are import based and have weak industrial production capacities. This is outlined in the African Union blueprint for industrial development Agenda 2063, into which IP feeds into.

Africa University has proudly hosted the MIP programme on its main campus in Mutare since 2008 with alumni of the programme serving in various influential positions in government, law, the entertainment industry, business and agriculture. The programme continues to grow from strength to strength propagated by the quality and timeliness of the programme itself and the increasing interest in the field of IP from governments around the world and especially on the continent of Africa.
Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce (WIPO, 2018).