Africa Bureau - Capacity building
WIPO's main task is the development or strengthening of intellectual property systems and infrastructure in Africa. In this respect, legislative assistance continues to be provided to African countries through advisory services, training seminars and study visits, with special attention paid to ensuring that they are able to implement the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement).
The maintenance of good intellectual property infrastructures and the building of strong intellectual property institutions are achieved through country or region-specific action plans known as Nationally Focused Action Plans (NFAPs) and Regionally Focused Action Plans (RFAPs). The plans are established between individual governments and WIPO. Each plan is tailored to effectively respond to the different needs and immediate priorities of each country or region and includes modernization of intellectual property offices, human resources development through study visits and training courses, workshops, seminars, etc. This is an area in which WIPO is helping African countries to build or strengthen the required infrastructures.
Human resources development
Human resources development has been a major WIPO strategy for building countries capacity to utilize intellectual property for technological, social, economic and cultural development. All the countries in the African region benefitted from the various training programs.
In addition to formal training organized by the WIPO Worldwide Academy (WWA), through its economic development program for Africa, WIPO organizes many meetings at the national, subregional and regional levels with targeted groups to provide information on the role of intellectual property in economic, social and cultural development. These meetings bring together government policymakers and administrators, businessmen, members of the judiciary, law enforcement officers, lawyers, researchers, performers, creators and academics.
Seminars were organized on various aspects of the economic impact of intellectual property such as the economic importance of distinctive signs, the strategy for acquisition, effective management and dissemination of intellectual property information, intellectual property and electronic commerce, support of small and medium-sized enterprises, and on licensing and distribution of royalties.
Study visits were also organized in various fields of intellectual property management.
On-the-job training on the use of the Vienna Classification was held. The aim of the training which took place in Harare, Zimbabwe, from May 12 to 16, 2003, within the context of the Subregional Training Workshop on International Classification of Patents, Trademarks and Industrial Designs, was to equip the staff of industrial property offices with the relevant skills in search, examination and processing procedures and international classification methods.
In order to strengthen the capabilities of intellectual property professionals, lawyers, judges, customs officials, police and other enforcement agents, training programs are organized. These programs offer, inter alia, opportunities for creating information networks among enforcement authorities, encourage an exchange of views on counterfeiting, piracy and other violations, and demonstrate the importance of the participation of legitimate intellectual property users and owners in the enforcement process.