AfCFTA should consider strong intellectual property systems for Africa – Dr. Anim-Mensah

The African Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in its full potential and sustenance cannot ignore in the least the pressing need to harmonize the existing Intellectual Property (IP) systems across africa, in addition to having strong IP and enforcements systems.

Given that much of Africa is still underdeveloped, it is expected to experience significant economic growth over the next few decades due to its growing population and abundant supply of raw materials. “This means there are many opportunities on this continent, however, there are also considerable digital insecurities and counterfeiting. According to some sources, genuine goods are sold far less frequently in Sub-Saharan Africa than counterfeit goods. These include Intellectual Properties (IP)” said Dr. Anim-Mensah to

Trade drives innovation and development including others, and in turn innovation sustains trade and development. IP among others are economic tools that protects original innovations and generally rewards IP owners with an exclusive temporary monopoly right to reap on investments and/or offer protection for some defined years while promoting original goods and services at the marketplace.

According to Dr. Anim-Mensah, a published IP Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP) patents provide avenues where details of patents are disclosed to the public to take the opportunities to build on and/or learn from. The protocol also provides data confidentiality, optionally providing data origin authentication, data integrity checking, and replay protection. “This sustains the pipeline of original goods and services at the marketplace while rewarding owners including innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs, accordingly,” said Dr. Anim-Mensah to

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“With the right IP systems in place, AfCFTA will create a single, interconnected continental market where people, products, and services can all trade freely, thereby boosting intra-African commerce, boosting competition, and assisting in the economic transformation of Africa. Moreover, IPs provide some elements to support investors to invest in ideas and/or innovations — a WIN-WIN Situation for all,” he added.

Superimposing the map of the African Regional Economic Communities (REC) (Fig. 1) onto that of the Africa IP Trademark Systems (Fig. 2) reveals the clashes of the existing IP systems at the various RECs. Consider trading at the ECOWAS region alone where about three IP Systems clashes; one protecting original goods and services will need to file IPs to cover the three clashed IP systems which could be cost prohibitive and laborious for the ordinary African.

Fig. 1. Map of the African Regional Economic Communities (REC)
Fig. 2. The Africa IP Trademark Systems

Moreover, the situation is compounded by the non-existence of strong IP enforcement systems across Africa. These barriers including others may not support original innovations, which in the least a harmonized IP system across Africa as well as proper standardizations are necessary for Africa’s development.

About Dr. Anim-Mensah

Dr. Alexander Anim-Mensah is a chemical engineer, inventor, author, and innovation specialist involved with over thirty (30) patents relating to machines, devices and efficient use of energy, water, and chemicals. Moreover, he is known for his contributions towards the field of membrane science and technology.

Among his specializations are technology, operations & value chain management (MIT), intellectual property law & policy (U Penn), business strategy (Univ, of Virginia), global energy business (Univ of Colorado), and marketing mix Implementation (IE Business School, Spain). He is the President of i2iMegaHub, an NGO assisting Africans especially the youth to take their ideas to make global impacts.

He is a Distinguished Patent & Innovation Fellow. Read more about Dr. Anim-Mensah on his Wikipedia.


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