The 19th of August 2019 marked the launch of the 12th Cohort of the Masters in Intellectual Property Programme at Africa University jointly hosted and generously funded by the World Intellectual Property Organization, the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization and the Government of Japan. The historic programme trains professionals from the legal fraternity, government, civic society, finance, real estate and other sectors in this increasingly critical field that ensures the protection and safeguarding of creators, inventors and businesses as they drive the future.
AU’s unique DNA shone through with students from Nigeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Sudan, Namibia, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Sao Tome Principe and the Gambia represented. A number of the MIP 12th cohort have been sponsored by the partners with the class president of the 12th Cohort Ms Nyasha Kuture from Zimbabwe saying,
“For many of us you have given us the opportunity to study and make our dreams come true. Our financial woes are lifted.”
The continued support of the partners is representative of the strong belief in AU and its conviction that education is a gateway to the emancipation of the African continent.
In his opening remarks, VC Prof Furusa said,
“Knowledge is about creating new processes, products, models and strategies that will see Africa develop. In line with this commitment, AU has been actively realigning its curriculum development, teaching and educational direction towards high impact research and practical skills development. The transformation of the higher education landscape is critical to driving the economies of the continent. AU plans to play a leading role in the positive disruption revolution of technology currently gripping the world. We must be positioned to take advantage of the opportunities presented by this revolution. I challenge you to take advantage of your rich disciplinary and national diversity to find models that will develop projects that reflect the breadth of our continental talent. We need to appreciate the role of IP in innovation. There is need for a broader approach into how IP stimulates business and new technology. African companies to remain competitive, must innovate and conduct research that provides value and solutions.”
Delivering remarks on behalf of the Government of Zimbabwe, Honourable Minister of State for Manicaland Dr. Ellen Gwaradzimba said of the human capital flight on the continent,
“The brain drain phenomenon has seen many of the continents brilliant minds going elsewhere. We need to claim back our intellectual property. Africa has lost its doctors, its nurses, its engineers. We need to sit down to begin crafting policies that bring our human capital back home to build our continent. The Government of Zimbabwe plays an important role in this programme through accreditation and the granting of the mandate for Africa University and its partners to provide this unique programme. I give thanks to the women enrolled in the programme for daring to enter a male dominated field. I say congratulations to you on your acceptance into the programme. You have Africa in your class through your diversity, make the most of the opportunity. Explore our beautiful province and country visiting our national treasures! Welcome to Zimbabwe!”
ARIPO Director General Mr. Fernando dos Santos spoke to the partnership with the university and the fruits it has yielded to date.
“ARIPO remains committed to supporting the programme. We applaud the efforts of the partners towards ensuring that Africa’s critical skills needs are met. ARIPO is this year providing 7 scholarships and we aim to increase that number. Our graduates play a leading role in developing national and institutional IP frameworks, are resource persons in IP fields and are disseminating awareness through the teaching and instruction of IP. Further to this, our graduates author 66 percent of research and articles to the Intellectual Property Journal. We are keen to see them do more.”
WIPO, represented by Counsellor Mrs. Martha Chikowore gave remarks on behalf of the organization emphasizing the importance of the advent of Artificial Intelligence and the calibre of focused research that is expected at this stage.
“Our launch today focuses heavily on artificial intelligence as this is an area that is transforming the world.” Mrs Chikowore went on to unveil cutting edge AI that WIPO currently uses to inspire those in attendance and reconfirm AI’s increasing interconnectedness within organizations. “WIPO has proudly launched a service named WIPO Translate that translates highly complex and technical IP patents from English into a second language namely Japanese or Korean enabling better cross cultural and sectoral collaborations that before proved difficult. During your residential phase we highly encourage you to develop projects that will ultimately lay the foundation for further work and adoption into tangible frameworks and technologies.”
The MIP programme has been proudly hosted by Africa University from 2008 and since this time, the university has helped to craft the IP framework policy in Zimbabwe that is currently being utilised by the country’s government and has gone on to train and assist other local institutions of higher learning break into the field to increase IP’s implementation and secure its rightful place a key component in the sustainable development matrix of the continent.