The Seventeenth Session of the Council of Ministers of African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) started today in the Margibi County of Liberia. Opening the session, the Director General of ARIPO, Mr. Fernando Dos Santos said the Council has over the years provided guidelines to ARIPO secretariat for the development of the IP system in the ARIPO regions. He highlighted some achievements namely: capacity building in Masters of IP, the WAO Agreement with World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO ) and OAPI in respect of innovation and value addition for business. According to him, a plan of action was adopted during the Harare Conference in November 2019, as emphasized by the representative of WIPO Director General, Mr. Sery-Kore, who said the tripartite agreement will develop more coherent, appropriate and practical response to the need of the African continent.

He said African decision makers should promote IP in linking IP and innovation to create a good setting for Africa business.

Taking the floor, the Director General of OAPI, Mr Denis Bohoussou said the protocol on the African Continental Free Trade Area has been signed and discussions on the various implementing texts will be conducted under the auspices of the African Union. It is necessary therefore that OAPI and ARIPO be able to shed light on the development of this protocol, which will have an impact on their activities. The two Organizations count on the support of their governing bodies for their admission to the negotiations on the draft protocol. He added that OAPI and ARIPO adopted the terms of reference in Harare in July 2019 in a view to harmonize their procedures.

We had speakers from Japan Patent Office, UPOV, Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, AFSTA and others.

The Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Honourable Bright MSAKA, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of the Republic of Malawi, also highlighted the WAO Conference that held in Harare, saying Africa has talents in innovation and entrepreneurship, and we need to reach out to the innovators, Universities, SMEs, research centres and others.

The Guest of honour, Honourable Milton Finley, Minister of foreign affairs of Liberia said Liberia will continue to provide full support to their IP Office so they can ratify more instruments. He said African Governments must develop policies that are favourable to IP to bring creators and other actors under one umbrella, thereby making a visible source for revenue flow. He wished the meeting successful deliberations.

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