Japan’s commitment to promoting IP and innovation in Africa

November 2019

By Kunihiko Shimano, Deputy Commissioner, Japan Patent Office, Tokyo, Japan

In May 2019, the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) came into effect, resulting in the creation of a common market comprising 1.3 billion people. This landmark agreement promises to promote trade among African countries and to contribute to the further economic growth of Africa. In the 21st century, Africa has huge potential to overcome the long-standing challenges of low productivity and underemployment. The uptake and use of advanced technologies associated with the ongoing digital transformation promise to support business growth and employment in Africa in the future.

Innovation and the policies to support it, including in the field of intellectual property (IP), are essential to achieving sustainable economic growth in Africa. I believe that the particular needs of African countries will drive innovation and the development of cutting-edge technologies. A talented and young workforce – and their passionate belief in a bright future – will help fuel the development and design of innovative products that are “made in Africa”. We can accelerate this momentum by supporting the implementation of initiatives that promote greater understanding, awareness and use of the IP system across the continent.

Photo: Courtesy of Japan Patent Office

Innovation and the policies to support it, including in the field of intellectual property (IP), are essential to achieving sustainable economic growth in Africa

Kunihiko Shimano, Deputy Commissioner, Japan Patent Office, Tokyo, Japan

In August 2019, the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) took place in Japan, around the theme of “Advancing Africa's Development through People, Technology and Innovation.” That event culminated in the adoption of the Yokohama Declaration 2019, which focuses on three key initiatives:

  • Accelerating economic transformation and improving the business environment through innovation and private sector engagement;
  • Deepening sustainable and resilient society; and
  • Strengthening peace and stability.

The Conference on IP, Innovation and Value Addition for Business Competitiveness and Sustainable Development in Africa in Harare, Zimbabwe, in November 2019, is a valuable opportunity to identify and discuss the elements of a five-year roadmap and a practical action plan to establish a robust and comprehensive innovation ecosystem in Africa.

The Japan Patent Office is fully committed to supporting initiatives taken by African countries to promote the uptake and use of IP in support of their national economic development goals, including within the context of the AfCFTA.

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