Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Burkino Faso an example to the Maasai .. and the rest of Africa

AllAfrica's aggregation service brings news of an ambitious project, funded by the EU, to assist the Maasai "patent" their traditional items to empower the community. Stateside, CNN helps take African innovation a step further in their interview with acclaimed Harvard academic Calestous Juma. The two news items together highlight the vast potential for African innovation to empower, and the role of IP in facilitating that.

"The idea [Massai Project between The Maasai Pastoralists Foundation and Tanzania Intellectual Property Network] is to empower the Maasai, to protect their cultural creativity by exclusive rights patent to all items related to the tribe against any inappropriate use or exploitation. The European union has already provided Tsh 601.212 million ($375,758) for that initiative. This means that for those who use Maasai traditional knowledge, culture or items for scientific and commercial purposes, should prepare to start paying for the Maasai trademarks."

Although the AllAfrica article (or the interviewees) seem to get mixed up about the types IP, it seems clear from reports here and here that the project has started with a drive toward educating the Maasai about intellectual property and how it can be used to empower their community.

Afro Leo is upbeat about the development. Provided it does not oversell IP (without more) as a solution (business building with IP is critical) and provided the community is strong enough to organise itself to achieve the goal, then it could really work.

On that thought, the CNN interview is one that every reader should take time out to view. Calestous Juma speaks about "how African innovation can take on the world", using biotechnology and progressive leadership in Burkino Faso, as an example. He is well spoken, inspiring, informative and his views, exciting. Strap yourself in and listen to Africa's potential.

If you are reading this post in email format, you will need to click here, to view it (search for "Calestous Juma" if it is not on the home page).

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