By Kebba Jeffang
World Intellectual Property organization (WIPO) in partnership with the Ministry of Justice on 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, WIPO is composed of 188 member states, which is a global forum that provides IP services to the world. This workshop among other 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 among others 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 the 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.
Other speakers included Sheikh Omar Jallow of NCAC also dwelled on the importance of putting copyright and intellectual property system in place.