By Mrs Susan Mwiti, Documentations & Communications Officer, ARIPO
On Thursday, 15 April 2021, the ARIPO Secretariat conducted a training for The Gambia Intellectual Property Office Staff members on how to set up and fully utilize the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) environment.
The training held via the Zoom platform was officially opened by the ARIPO Director General, Bemanya Twebaze, and the Registrar General of The Gambia, Mr Abdoulie Colley.
“ICT is indispensable in the administration of Intellectual Property. This training is timely. I want to thank the ARIPO Director General for responding in a timely manner to The Gambia’s request for this training. Continuous capacity building is fundamental if we really want to make progress in the field of IP Administration,” noted Mr Abdoulie Colley, Registrar General of The Gambia IP Office.
According to the ARIPO DG, ARIPO has embarked on a number of ICT projects taking advantage of the available tools to provide efficiency in IP business processing and improve its communication with stakeholders.
The FTP platform, which is provided by WIPO, was first setup in 2016 with the main aim of improving communication and the exchange of documents and notifications between ARIPO and its Member States. The ARIPO Secretariat worked with the nominated focal point of The Gambia in setting up the FTP platform. The FTP platform was then upgraded to a much more secure SFTP platform in 2020 to enhance security.
ARIPO is also implementing the Member States (MS) module which allows for online data exchange between POLite+ of ARIPO and IPAS of its Member States. The module allows for a paperless exchange of information and through it, ARIPO and its Member States can exchange all types of notifications, forms and documents online. The module has now been implemented in 12 ARIPO Member States.
The Member States module works much more efficiently than the SFTP platform and once it has been implemented in all Member States the exchange of information through the SFTP platform will be phased out. “It is my hope that the MS module will be implemented in The Gambia very soon, so that you may also start benefitting from this tool,” noted ARIPO DG.
The Director General of the Swedish Intellectual Property Office (PRV), Mr Peter Stromback,
The Representative of the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Mr Daren Tang,
Representative of the Diplomatic Corps (from Beneficiary Country – TBD)
Deputy Director, Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI), Mr. Matthew Fielding,
The Director of International Capacity Development and Senior Adviser for International Affairs for PRV, Mr Patrick Andersson
Senior Program Officer, CapDev, SIDA, Ms. Michelle Bouchard,
Participants of this ITP313c International Training Programme,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen
It is indeed a great honor and privilege for me on behalf of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and indeed on my own behalf to address this important virtual gathering marking the official launch of the Swedish flagship ITP313c International Training Programme, titled “Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources – in Support of Innovation.” ARIPO remains encouraged and inspired to supporting the ITP program and would like to join PRV, SIDA, WIPO and the other equally important partners in welcoming you, the participants of this program.
ARIPO has noted how this program continued to be routinely rolled out over the years to empower many participants who would go back to their countries to drive necessary change in socio-economic development. We are thus pleased with all the efforts being made by PRV and SIDA in partnership with WIPO and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences towards ensuring that Africa’s critical needs in human resource development in the fields of innovation and intellectual property are addressed, as far as genetic resources are concerned. Infusing innovation into farming through national policies and strategies will have tremendous benefits even to the small holder farmers.
I, therefore, express ARIPO’s sincere gratitude to the Director General of PRV, Mr Peter Stromback for the commendable support PRV is providing for this program. I further note with delight that African countries such as Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia are part of this important training. Incidentally, these and other African countries that participated in this program before, are Member States of ARIPO. I would not be so remiss as not to mention that ARIPO has also actually benefited from this training.
Your commitment in this noble enterprise is clearly evidenced by your tireless efforts to ensure that the program continues to be delivered even as the world is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. These are indeed difficult and unprecedented times. Notwithstanding that, your resolve to ensure that the program continues is something we do not take for granted.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The content of the training itself is so contemporary as it is engaging and exacting. It clearly moves from the familiar to the esoteric, while laying solid foundations for later learning. It is timely, it meets the needs of the participants at their respective offices, the needs of our countries and inevitably the needs of the global south. Essentially, it is more profound that this training is directed to policymakers with a mandate to implement changes relevant for intellectual property and innovation in genetic resources, back in their respective countries. The program structure and the full panoply of the modules, topics, case studies and site visits present us a model to learn from as we also deliver programs of a similar nature through ARIPO Academy.
Most of the countries represented here, and indeed the ARIPO region are looking for solutions towards improving economic growth, food security, poverty eradication and finding effective responses to stem climate change. These interventions are not only enshrined in Agenda 2030 of the United Nations, but they also form part of the tenets of Agenda 2063 as espoused by the African Union at a continental level. We therefore need all hands on-deck.
To a remarkable degree, the documented successes of this program speak volumes about the selection of its instructors. These are some of the finest minds in the industry. They bring a wealth of knowledge and experience which they are willing to share. I am particularly encouraged by the fact that these experts represent different stakeholders [which you will have direct dialogue with] in intellectual property and genetic resources as well as traditional knowledge. They will deliver lectures and participate in discussions and case studies as well as assist the participants with the research phase of the training – the country project. It is however noteworthy that in trainings such as this, sharing of experiences is what enriches the program. You are therefore requested to actively participate by sharing your experiences as they are equally valuable.
Allow me to conclude my remarks with a word of encouragement. We are in the age where networks are everything, let alone networks at an international level. It is our desire that once you have completed this training, you continue to network and interact with each other so that you remain relevant to the IP development processes in your respective countries. You should play an active role in IP related activities. This includes providing sound advice to your countries on IP issues, to your farming communities, assisting with national IP audits, and as well as bringing about general awareness on the benefits of protecting and respecting IP Rights.
I say this with the conviction because I know that from this training, you will never be the same again. You will be able to learn that intellectual property is a cross-cutting discipline which spans the needs and perspectives of different stakeholders. It further broadens to delve into issues relating to public health, agriculture, biodiversity, trade and innovation, to mention but a few. As you can already imagine, all these issues come with international obligations by way of accessions and ratifications. As policymakers from your countries, you will be able to see that the insights derived from this training will be of tremendous application back in your respective places.
From the standpoint of ARIPO, I want to inform you that this program has encouraged many of its participants to contact us with the aim to enroll in our 3 Masters programs in Zimbabwe, Ghana and Tanzania to deepen their IP knowledge and specialize in different IP areas. You are therefore encouraged to do the same and take advantage of the scholarships that WIPO and ARIPO avail in the bid to develop IP for the continent of Africa. As I recognize our brothers and sisters from the Asian continent here present, may they know that our programs attract applications from their region as well. Africa and Asia have many things in common. Please we welcome you any time.
Finally, I wish to reiterate my sincere gratitude to the institutions and organizations that continue to make this initiative a success. SIDA is very well known in almost all African countries. This is due to its bilateral development assistance and capacity development activities in areas of strategic importance to social, environmental and economic development. We cannot thank them enough. Through the PRV we hope to engage them further and point them in the direction of our IP training.
With these few remarks Director General Peter Stromback, I affirm ARIPO’s support to this training and wish for more fruitful engagements with PRV.