Nonsikelelo Moyo, Victoria Falls Reporter
HIGHER learning institutions should take the lead in embracing intellectual property rights meant to protect domestic innovations, an official said.
Speaking during the recent 10th Southern African Nordic Centre (SANORD) conference in Victoria Falls, African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) director general, Mr Fernando Dos Santos, said universities in Africa have not properly embraced intellectual property rights and that this was reflected in the level of regional economies.
“Intellectual property rights have unfortunately not been embraced by our institutions. In terms of statistics, there are three million new patents every year around the world. We have more than 70 million available and valid patents.
“Africa has a very small share of that. We don’t have more than 15 000 patent applications in all 54 African countries and that is 0, 6 percent of what is happening out there in terms of technology,” said Mr Dos Santos.
He said most innovations in Africa were not being turned into intellectual property hence the continent was lagging behind in terms of gains from innovations.
“Now it’s important for us to understand this does not indicate that in Africa there is no innovation or technology. Innovations are coming out but remains in the informal side and not turned into intellectual property assets. Therefore, when statistics are shown it’s as if in Africa nothing is happening in terms of innovation and that is very sad,” said Mr Dos Santos.
He challenged institutions of higher learning to connect with the industry as they are centres of knowledge creation. Mr Dos Santos said it was critical for training institutions to own the knowledge they generate hence the need to invest in deriving value from such innovations through intellectual property.
“One of the bridges in doing that is intellectual property. It protects the results of the creation of the mind and we do that by granting a patent trademark and patent industrial designs, which are intellectual property rights centred,” he said.