A press release from WIPO yesterday heralds the long-awaited Japanese aid package for African IP. According to the text,
"A gathering of senior policy makers and intellectual property (IP) administrators from 36 African countries meeting in Pretoria, South Africa on May 26 and 27, 2009, to examine the importance of IP as a catalyst for economic and commercial development, marked the launch of a Japanese-financed program to promote the use of IP in Africa and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).Afro Leo wonders, not for the first time, whether the expenditure involved in flying IP administrators, WIPO officials and national diplomats around the world and putting them up in comfy hotels is justifiable. Why not let these blameless souls communicate via teleconferencing -- a technology which has been working in a most satisfactory manner since the previous century -- so that the money saved might be better spent in investment in the IP infrastructure of those countries that need it most?
The event, organized by WIPO in cooperation with the governments of South Africa and Japan, is part of the WIPO-administered Japanese Funds-in-Trust (FIT) Program for Africa and LDCs. The two-day meeting provided an opportunity for participants to reflect on the range of policy options available to create an enabling environment for the effective use and management of IP assets.
IP experts from Japan, Malaysia, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa and African Regional Intellectual Property Office (ARIPO), WIPO and the World Bank addressed a range of themes, including patent information as a tool for innovation; technology transfer; use of IP for business competitiveness; commercializing IP assets; value added services of IP offices; funding of scientific research and innovation; and IP development from a regional perspective.
Participants also discussed concrete proposals for future activities to be implemented within the framework of the FIT program and expressed appreciation for Japan’s generosity in establishing it.
Japan has supported a number of WIPO-administered projects through extra-budgetary funding since 1987. Through these channels, Japan shares its experience in the use of intellectual property for wealth creation, enhanced competitiveness and economic development".