By Wallace Mawire
The African continent which has been lagging behind other continents
in the use of intellectual property for its economic development is
intensifying training to capacitate professionals with IP knowledge
and skills across the continent.
Zimbabwe recently witnessed the 10th anniversary of the Masters in
Intellectual Property programme hosted by Africa University and
jointly funded by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO),
the African Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) and the
According to Fernando Dos Santos, Director General of ARIPO
headquartered in Harare, Zimbabwe the masters programme in IP at
Africa University in Mutare began when WIPO and ARIPO jointly
organized a colloquium on IP education, training and research in July
The Africa university is a Pan African university identified as the
ideal institution to offer the programme.
According to Dos Santos, each year WIPO provides 20 scholarships
including the use of the Japan Funds in Trust (FIT) whilst ARIPO
provides 10 scholarships. It is reported that cumulatively, WIPO has
provided over 190 scholarships and ARIPO 64 during the decade.
Professor Robson Mafoti, Interim Vice Chancellor and CEO of the Pan
African Minerals University of Science and Technology in Zimbabwe who
was guest of honour at the anniversary of the programme said that to
date the MIP programme as it has become to be known has created for
the African continent over 300 highly qualified and industry ready IP
“Intellectual Property, the concepts and beliefs that ground it and
the philosophical and practical implications that is holds for Africa
are still not fully understood within our communities and respective
organisations. IP is such am important part of economic development
that it would be perilous to ignore it,” Dr Mafoti said.
He added that in the African continent’s continuous pursuit for
economic equality and sustainability there is an error of hinging on
natural resources only. He said that while Africa focuses on figuring
out how to get its minerals out of the ground , the world is moving on
building knowledge based economies that are service-intensive,
manufacturing intensive and also labour intensive.
“As a continent, we have proudly and very rightly so invested in
education on an extensive and exhaustive level but in spite of all
this, we find ourselves not catching up with the rest of the world,”
Professor Mafoti said.
He added that Africa has favourable business environments and has
infrastructure, technology and the manpower but has minimal growth in
its economies. He said that Africa has not done like other countries
which have realized that it is pointless to invest in educating people
if they do not know how to harness that investment into tangible
knowledge that benefits economies.
“We need to encourage our socities’ intellectual mavericks and
rebels against convention and the ordinary to come out of hiding and
share their knowledge. We have to come to terms with the fact that our
new ideology is patent or perish,” Professor Mafoti said.