Geneva/Dar es Salaam,
March 12, 2013
Some twenty African ministers, senior policy makers and entrepreneurs joined President Jakaya Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania and WIPO Director General Francis Gurry at the opening of a two-day conference in Dar es Salaam to discuss the role of intellectual property (IP) in stimulating innovation and development. The conference, organized by WIPO and the Japan Patent Office in cooperation with the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, is also addressing the importance of innovation in dealing with some of today’s most pressing global challenges, such as public health, food security and climate change.
Speaking at the opening of the Conference, Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete said proper use of intellectual property can contribute to economic development and the eradication of poverty in African countries. He said “IP policies should be integrated with development policies.” The President appealed to development partners “to explore the possibilities of increasing support to African countries in IP issues.” He stressed “IP issues should be regarded as development issues. They should not be dealt with in isolation.”
“Africa has a great tradition of innovation and creativity,” Mr. Gurry said in opening the African Conference on the Strategic Importance of Intellectual Property Policies to Foster Innovation, Value Creation and Competitiveness. “And innovation is a central driver of economic growth, development and better jobs. It is the key for firms to compete successfully in the global marketplace.”
WIPO Director General and United Republic of Tanzania’s President open the Conference on Innovation and IP in Dar es Salaam (Photo: Zainul A. Mzige).
Mr. Gurry added that “intellectual property is an indispensable mechanism for translating knowledge into commercial assets – IP rights create a secure environment for investment in innovation and provide a legal framework for trading in intellectual assets.” He noted that investment in knowledge creation, and the maintenance of a robust and balanced IP system, should feature prominently in any strategy to ensure sustainable economic growth, and pledged the Organization’s commitment in assisting countries to develop national innovation strategies.
Mr. Toshihiro Kose, Director General, Trademark, Design and Administrative Affairs Department, Japan Patent Office, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, said “Japan is fully committed to supporting the development of Africa’s IP systems through its funds-in-trust for Africa and LDCs program that is managed by WIPO.” Mr. Kose stressed that “effective IP systems stimulate innovation.” He pointed out that this conference is the largest organized this fiscal year through its funds-in-trust program, adding, “I hope it will be a successful occasion to foster a better environment for accelerating protection and utilization of IP in Africa.”
The conference brings together ministers responsible for IP related matters, ministers for science and technology, heads of IP offices, as well as representatives of research and development (R&D) institutions and innovation centers, entrepreneurs from small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), major industrial companies operating in Africa, regional economic communities and regional financial institutions to discuss a wide-ranging agenda on how the continent can best capitalize on IP for promoting innovation.
Ministers and senior officials taking part in the conference will remain in Dar es Salaam to participate in a meeting jointly organized by WIPO and the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on March 14, 2013.