Wednesday 24 July 2013

Darren Olivier

Why the next decade will belong to Africa - Freshfields

Freshields' Africa Group have produced a study on the last decade's investment into the continent and suggest that their findings explain why the "next decade will belong to Africa", according to Africa co-practice head Shawn Van Kinderen. Their neat infographic below sums it up and their "expanded report" can be downloaded here.

The study may not reveal anything particularly new. This blog has tracked the rising interest on the continent,  its readership interest pretty much mimics the findings of the report and the rising number of foreign law firms on the Sandton skyline provide our own daily infographic. However, what is interesting is the relative interest of the different countries (China and US investment is perhaps less (relatively) than expected) and the significant spend on consumer items confirms the anticipated rise of the African middle class, which is good for so many reasons not least because it helps reduce unemployment and the poverty gap.

Not all investment is regarded as good though, especially if it does not empower local industry as this recent article indicates, highlighting the need for Chinese money to "create jobs".  

The relative interest in IP is not tracked by the report but is likely to follow the trends indicated in the report, especially for consumer investment. Oil, gas, metals and mining investors are very much less interested in IP as part of the deal although this may change as competition increases or for example, where local policies force tech transfer or local ownership, in essence creating a licensing model as part of the deal structure. For consumer items, all forms of IP become paramount except that, in the race for the attention of the African consumer, it is often a post deal concern which also often leads to complications. 

With all this anticipated investment onto the continent, especially for consumer items, there is an opportunity for Africans to understand how their own innovation and creativity can be protected by IP which will then be very beneficial when negotiating with potential investors.

And, if it were up to Freshfields, WIPO would probably set up in South Africa but according to the poll here, Zimbabwe is leading the vote. Do you agree?

Darren Olivier

Darren Olivier

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