WIPO/Ministry of Justice organise Stakeholder Consultation on IP

By Kebba Jeffang
World Intellectual Property organization (WIPO) in partnership with
the Ministry of Justice yesterday Thursday, 13 August, 2015, organised
a stakeholder consultation to scrutinise the report of the consultant
on the National Intellectual property policy strategy.Established in 1967, composed of 188 member states, which is a global
forum that provides IP services to the world. This workshop among
others issues was to address the needs of Intellectual property
administration, promotion, development, protection of the Gambia.
Mr. Chrono Marena, the Solicitor General and Legal Secretary,
representing the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, said the
forum formed part of the Government of the Gambia’s efforts, in
collaboration with its development partners notably the World
Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), through the relevant
Ministries and departments, to encourage the creation of development
and protection of Intellectual Property as a tool for national
development. Over the past years, he added, a lot of efforts have been
made to bring IP matters to the fore through organization of seminars
and workshops for creators, innovators, end users and Government
officials.
However, he said these ad-hoc measures are not enough without an
assessment of where we are, where we want to be and how we will get
there. This is what informed the Needs Assessment Mission fielded by
WIPO sometime in 2012 at the request of the Gambia Government. The
results of the needs assessment mission formed the bedrock of the
current mission to forge ahead with an I.P Policy and Strategy, said
the Solicitor General.
“Unfortunately I.P offices in Africa have largely played the role of
Post Offices in the sense that most of the work they do consists of
receiving and registering titles in favour of foreign I.P owners. Some
of the major challenges hampering the I.P system in this country are
lack of awareness among potential users of the I.P system, inadequate
investment in research and development and absence of
commercialization of innovative and creative works. Thus it is hoped
that with the development of an I.P Policy and Strategy, some of these
challenges can be tackled successfully. He anticipated that I.P Policy
and Strategy will recognize the necessary balance between I.P
protection and the needs of a developing country like the Gambia,’’ he
noted.
He further added that addressing a National IP Policy and Strategy
requires a multi-pronged approach. He indicated that such an approach
would entail the  stimulation of creation and the
generation of IP rights, strengthening protection of IP rights and the
creation of new IP regimes to address the specific needs of the
country. It would help establish an efficient, cost effective and
service oriented IP administrative infrastructure, institutional
capacity building and developing human capital, facilitating
commercialization of intellectual Property as well as integrating IP
components into national sectoral policies and addressing global IP
issues in international fora. This multi-faceted approach evidently
requires the contributions of all stakeholders including the private
sector.
He assured the general public that the ministry of Justice would not
relent in its endeavour to collaborate with all partners to provide
the necessary support in pursuance of the objective of developing a
national Intellectual Property Policy and Strategy for The Gambia.
Mrs. Loretta Asiedu, the focal point for the Gambia in WIPO, spoke of
the importance of IP and the much needed attention that WIPO has
attached to it. She indicated some of the challenges such as lack of
awareness on the subject.  She said that we lack the necessary
policies that forester creativity. ‘’We are in the process of
development, hence must put in place strategies and policies in order
to reach far. Creative, innovative and benefit from intellectual
property is ongoing. She said work is also underway in the economic
domain all in line with technical cooperation with Gambia.
Sheikh Omar Jallow of NCAC also dwelled on the
importance of putting  copy right and intellectual property system  in
place.