13th cohort of the Africa University Masters in Intellectual Property Launched

19 March 2021

The 13th cohort of the Masters in Intellectual Property programme (MIP) at Africa University was launched on the 19th of March 2021 in a virtual event that was attended by the 37 member cohort as well as senior representatives from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Africa Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), the Japanese Embassy and Africa University.

The annual launch has become a much anticipated and high impact event where  the MIP founding partners WIPO, ARIPO , the Government of Japan and AU gather to welcome the incoming cohort and to  discuss critical and relevant topics that affect the continent’s economies, societies and overall development. Guest of Honor and Keynote speaker of the event  Dr. McClean Sibanda who is the Managing Director of Bigen Global Limited, Mauritius, did not break with this tradition speaking to the Africa Free Trade Agreement and its implications on IP in Africa and the world.

With 19 nationalities represented  in the 13th cohort namely- Botswana, the Republic of Cape Verde, Eswatini, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Sao Tome Principe, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the MIP programme is one of the most culturally diverse at Africa University allowing students the opportunity to gain insight and interesting perspectives into IP practices across Africa and creating  a truly enriching and immersive student experience.

In his opening remarks, Africa University Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Mageto acknowledged the impeccable support of the partners and the impact that MIP graduates are making in their home countries.

“We are immensely grateful to our partners at WIPO, ARIPO and the Government of Japan for their continued and consistent support. We are glad that the 13th cohort began their programme on time through  online learning platforms. In line with this,  virtual learning infrastructure at Africa University continues to evolve and improve for our students. It is important to take stock of our collective achievements through this programme where to date 326 students have graduated thus far. A number of MIP alumni currently work for the ARIPO. The IP practice and management textbook published by Africa University and her partners in 2018 has gone on to become a key text in the teaching and practice of IP on the continent.” 

Director General of ARIPO Mr .Bemanya Twebaze echoed the Acting VC’s remarks and emphasized ARIPO’s dedication to the programme.

“ARIPO remains fully committed to this endeavor as we add to the skills base of IP professionals in Africa. ARIPO is pleased with the efforts of our partners in ensuring that Africa’s critical needs in human resources in the IP field are met. We appreciate the support from WIPO and Africa University through it’s College of Business Peace Leadership and Governance that hosts the MIP programme wholeheartedly especially under such trying times as these. The Government of Japan’s continued support through providing scholarships and resource persons is also very much appreciated. ARIPO continues to sponsor students to engage the programme with 7 students who are being supported by the organization in this cohort. Teaching, initiating the introduction of IP models at a national level and advising industry in IP related issues are just some of the activities that our alumni are currently embarking upon. We urge our students to contribute to the IP knowledge base and to remember that you are your country’s flag carrier and  you must take your studies seriously. We hope you go on to create a community of IP experts for your nations and Africa.”

The MIP programme is jointly offered by WIPO, ARIPO and Africa University with financial assistance from the Government of Japan. Officially launched in 2008, the MIP programme has gone on to produce powerful alumni who are serving in top positions in government, law, innovation and entrepreneurship, the corporate world and grass roots start-ups that have changed the game of African knowledge generation and creation processes and filled the gap for much needed Intellectual Property expertise and skills in Africa.

WIPO Head of  Academic Institutions Programmes Mr. Joe Bradley in his remarks on behalf of the organization said,

“There is no doubt about the importance of IP. The notion that it was the preserve of developed countries has since become outdated. Understanding how IP works and how it relates to the creative process is critical. Great ideas can be transformed into sustainable businesses though this understanding. As MIP students, your research can help us understand how we can use IP to make a better world. WIPO and the government of Japan are currently sponsoring 22 participants of this cohort. We are grateful for the collaboration and support . WIPO continues to put forward and select facilitators with the best training and skills in IP for you, our students, to tap into to better yourselves. In any research you go on to do , you must always ask how you can apply your research to the broader world.”

The Ambassador of Japan to Zimbabwe His Excellency Satoshi Tanaka gave a rich background on the longstanding ties that exist between Japan and Africa especially as it relates to sustainable development and the protection of Intellectual Property. He went on to say,

“In order to promote foreign investment, it is important to provide a business environment in which IP rights are protected . The MIP programe’s intention is to develop future leaders who will incorporate IP in the socio- economic and technology spheres of their respective countries to drive sustainable development.”

A triumph of collective effort, determination and strategic collaboration, the MIP programme has grown to become one of Africa University’s flagship programmes that attracts the best minds and talents from across Africa.