NEWS

FG Moves To Create Africa’s First Intellectual Property Right Commercialization Project

By Gift Eguavoen

The Federal Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding  (MoU) with the UK based Developing Africa Group to create Africa’s first Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Commercialization project in Nigeria.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Richard Adeniyi Adebayo, disclosed this  during the signing ceremony held recently in Abuja.

He explained that the MoU will allow the Group to use IPR as a means of resolving some of the issues and challenges facing Nigeria as well as create jobs and trade services.

The Minister who was represented at the occasion by the Registrar, Trademark,  Shafiu Adamu Yauri,  said  the  pilot project, structured for three years, is designed to place International Property  Right (IPR), directly into some of the key issues and challenges in Nigeria as it will take advantage of technology to address some of the issues surrounding unemployment and allow rural communities in Nigeria to start attracting commercial interests.

“Since trademarks are crucial to the promotion of trade and economic development, and Nigeria happens to be one of the strong regional hubs of trade in Africa, it is no surprise that it has attracted the world’s IP governing body in Abuja. Nigeria hosts  one of the only two World Intellectual Property Office’s (WIPO) External Offices in Africa, the other is hosted in Algeria, this project will  assist the Registry of Trademarks in the effective administration and enforcement of Trademarks rights in Nigeria” the Minister said.

According to the minister Africa in general, and Nigeria, in particular, faces an enormous challenge of industrialisation and unemployment generation given the significant population growth.

“The African Development Bank (AfDB) estimates that youth unemployment is twice as high as that of adults and that young people account for approximately 60percent of the continent’s jobless population stressing that, the problem is only set to become more acute given estimates that some 12 million young people on the Continent enter the job market each year,” he said.

“If you juxtapose the recent population growth on the continent and the attempts to create a common African market through the  AfCFTA Agreement, then you can clearly see the need for the new WIPO External Office in Nigeria to hit the ground running,” the minister added, while urging  the Group to work closely with the WIPO Office in Nigeria in order to achieve the goals.

In her response the Chairperson of Developing Africa Group, Hajiya Jamila Ahmadu-Suka, assured of the use of  IPR as a means of creating a series of technology based projects in Nigeria including a project to make Nigeria become a zero tolerant nation for Trademark abuse with a Gig-economy mobile social media App that will create up to 15,000 jobs across Nigeria for the detection  of fake labels and abuse  of trademark rights and other IPR violations in Nigeria  which will be the first of its kind in Africa.

She stressed that for Nigeria to attract Trade and Investment, the issue of Products counterfeiting, abuse or fraud has to be addressed, noting that it is one of the areas of focus for the IPR commercialization project which aims to use IPR to provide confidence by improving due diligence capabilities in Nigeria.

“Nigerian fraudsters have given Nigeria an undeserved reputation and the IPR commercialization project which will enable the Federal Government to establish a stance that will detect fraudulent actions in the field of commerce with effective and detailed due diligence and by so doing impede the fraudsters ability to continue giving Nigeria a bad name.” Jamila Suka added.

Remarking, the Founder of the Developing Africa Group  Omoakin Oguntala explained that there are three key IPR projects that will be introduced into Nigeria namely;1,000 by 1,000 project, IPR Exchange within AfCFTA as well as African Technocratic Service.

Oguntala explained that within the 1,000 by 1,000 project, 1,000 projects from all regions of Nigeria will be enrolled on the condition that they can generate 1,000 jobs in Nigeria and generate substantial revenue per year with such projects being put forward for private equity funding.

The second project he said was the IPR Exchange project which will allow the youths in Nigeria to create ideas that can be protected by IPR and traded across Africa, a demand and supply matrix for Africa using IPR for growth and development.

“Within the IPR Exchange and under the AfCFTA, a young person from Nigeria can create an idea that is needed in countries like Lesotho, Mali, Sudan and Somalia. The IPR exchange will match the demand for solutions with the supply of such solutions without creating a migration issue within Africa,” Oguntala added.

The 3rd project Oguntala pointed out is called African Technocratic service and the  aim to allow Nigerian technocrats who have the intelligence to resolve some of the issues and challenges in Nigeria  to showcase those ideas and be funded to bring the ideas to life. “As Nigeria is losing most of her intellectuals  to foreign countries, this service will allow the sons and daughters of nobody to become somebody in Nigeria without knowing anybody,” he said.

According to a statement by the ministry’s Head, Press and Public Relations Unit, Mr Ibrahim Haruna, other areas covered by the MoU, include IPR within AfCFTA, IPR in customs and tariffs and trade facilitation; trade in services; IPR investment; protection of intellectual property rights including enforcement; trade and sustainable development; digital economy including e-commerce; trade and investment related issues pertaining to small and medium-sized enterprises.

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