Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Is Uganda's proposed anti-counterfeit legislation bad milk?

Afro Leo has come across an interesting Q&A session with Sisule Musungu president of Geneva-based IQsensato, a non-profit research and communications organisation providing a platform for developing world researchers to influence international policy-making on development. In short Sisule argues that 'Intellectual property rights constitute one of the last comparative trade advantages that industrialised countries enjoy.' and that the adoption of these laws by for example, Uganda, perpetuates the need for industrialised countries to preserve their global trade position [as opposed to genuinely assisting developing countries.] He believes that the President of Uganda has been hoodwinked into believing that anti-counterfeit legislation will solve the problem of children drinking bad milk and that resources set aside to set up anti-counterfeit measures eg customs monitoring by the likes of Interpol simply diverts Interpol from its core function. You can read Q&A session held by Christi van der Westhuizen and Wambi Michael on the IPS website here.

The problem this Afro Leo has with the comments of Musungu is that his apparent cynicism of what motivates global trade (which may be entirely correct) affects his judgement of whether anti-counterfeit legislation is per se good or bad. Yes, he was asked to explain the position against the backdrop of the certain controversial provisions which may affect access to cheap drugs but he does not reconcile his apparent distaste for anti-counterfeit legislation (as a totality) with the need to somehow also protect the fruits of the research of those his organisation represents. To be fair he was not asked to, but he would probably find that anti-counterfeit legislation, as a concept, would assist those researchers.

Paul, any thoughts?

1 comment:

Asiimwe Paul said...

Darren,

This comment comes abit late but I agree with your analysis. The truth of the matter is that some excesses in the Kenyan anti counterfeit legislation have contorted the debate against and for this kind of legislation in east Africa and Africa as a whole. It is obvious that developed countries are always going to be ahead of developing ones in generation and commercialization of technology. It would however excercerbating the problem if we decided that are not going to try and figure out how they benefit from the IP system, in order to appropriate aspects that are useful for our countries.


On a daily basis, we are confronted by challenges of counterfeits. The effect is even more glaring in the health, pharmaceuticals sector. Recently, tones of mosquito nets that are not fit for use(they literary get shredded if you tug at them) were impounded and destroyed by the bureau of standards in Kampala. They purported to be treated whereas they were not. If this doesn’t make a strong case for legislation in this area, nothing does. We just have to realize that multinationals will always have their agenda in pushing for overly stringent regulation; its up to us to strike a balance that entitles our people to safe good quality products.

Paul