Last year, this little Leo found a bare cupboard in Angola ; neither the copyright office nor the industrial property office had a website. Twelve months later, the cupboard is still empty.
The only website found on both trips was that owned by the Ministry of Industry www.mingmi.gov.ao, but it carries no information on intellectual property (IP) in Angola. Browsing this site, - as if he understood a word of Portuguese- this Leo came across this news of an ongoing construction of advanced technology centres with the support of the Republic of South Korea.
Angolans keen to protect the knowledge in its traditional medicine
From the first report: "....The protection of knowledge and practice of traditional medicine in the cultural aspect, the protection of knowledge and practice of traditional medicine in the aspect of intellectual property protection and legal mechanisms and the importance of the drafting of the law on the protection of traditional medicine and property rights of traditional knowledge on the agenda."
From the second report: "More than 400 medicinal plants, root samples and other products are displayed to the public in Luena city, eastern Moxico province ahead of the opening of the Regional Forum on national policy on traditional medicine and complementary practices"
From the third report: ".....Therefore, to ensure the recovery of the traditions of the Angolan people, as part of their cultural heritage, the Executive intends to establish necessary legal tools for promotion of good practice and guarantee equitable access."
In attendance at these events were senior government officials.
Afro Leo is disappointed that a year on, nothing has changed for Angola - despite sound economic growth and considerable oil revenues.Where a country has a functioning and reasonable website for its IP office, it is foreseeable - although not guaranteed- that it would also be working hard behind the scenes to promote IP or to make the IP system work in the interest of its people.
Both news on the technology centres and traditional medicine raise critical issues in IP or of similar nature, including technology transfer, IP spin-out and intangible cultural heritage protection. It is crucial that the Angolan government or the relevant Ministry show some desire by ensuring that its IP office is seen to be playing an active role in innovation, entrepreneurialship and creativity by going online. Also, by putting the current IP regime into effective use, lessons would be learned and these could be applied to the current projects at hand.