Friday, 13 January 2012

Africa and the INTA: no excuses allowed

2012: time to put Africa
on the map at INTA
This year's International Trademark Association (INTA) takes place in Washington DC from 5 to 9 May. After last year's furore over the disappearance of Africa from the programme, Afro Leo is delighted to announce that it has been restored for 2012: an African Regional Session will be held on Wednesday 9 May, from 10.15am to 11.30am.

Now for a growl from Afro Leo.

It's no good saying that there ought to be an Africa Session, complaining when it's dropped -- and then not bothering to turn up for it.  There are plenty of other opportunities to do your shopping (and don't pretend that you're not disappearing off to the shops ...) -- and if you aren't clubbing and overdoing it on Tuesday night you shouldn't have any problem getting up in time for a 10.15am meeting.

Don't say either that there's no point in going because you only meet other Africans there and you know them already. Apart from the fact that it's simply not true -- I spotted a couple of big corporate non-Africans at the session two years ago, one of whom even asked a question -- you can make sure that the event is better attended by people from outside the Continent by dragging them along. If each African attending INTA were to bring in one non-African, imagine how impressive the session would be.

This is a big year for Africa.  The May session is the first since the Arab Spring and the first since the founding of South Sudan. It coincides with a time when the once-prosperous markets of North America and Europe are looking shabbily recessional, and where entrepreneurs are seeking new opportunities. An article in The Economist recently pointed to the increasing growth potential which has sprung from the emergence in much of Africa of a large, educated and relatively affluent middle class with matching aspirations. But there's not much hope of persuading people of this if all they see at INTA is a largely empty room with a sign saying "Africa" hanging on the door.

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