AFCFTA : OAPI Dg was at Johannesburg

A High-Level Brainstorming Session on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) held on friday 25th of February 2022 in Johannesburg, South Africa. His Excellency, Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area chaired the Session.

The Directors General of OAPI Mr Denis BOHOUSSOU and Mr Bemanya TWEBAZE of ARIPO also attended the Session with other participants from various fields.
Discussions centered on the objectives, negotiating and guiding principles, the scope of the negotiations, stakeholder consultation, among others.

Policy space needs to be preserved while considering continental challenges. Some questions came up like what should be the driving force of IP rules in Free Trade Agreements and to what extent is the harmonization of Intellectual Property (IP) laws needed in a Free Trade Area?

What is the profile of IP in Africa and what type of Protocol is needed? The present IPR rights and policies needs to be examined when drafting the Protocol. The scope of the Agreement also needs to be taken into consideration. Negotiations should be open and there should also be transparency.

It was also discussed that a common voice and a common approach that reflects Africa's position is needed. The Protocol has to be concluded before September 2022 and a draft submitted to the Summit of Heads of States in December 2022. Series of online Sessions will be held to further the discussions.

The Session ended on a satisfactory note as his Excellency Wamkele Mene thanked participants for their brlliant initiatives.

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