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Botswana leader asks Africa to follow the path of creativity

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Mokgweetsi Masisi
Mokgweetsi Masisi

Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi urged the 19th Session of the Council of Ministers of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) to introspect on barriers hindering the growth of the continent’s creativity to global standards in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, on Friday.

“Africa’s creativity should impact communities and the world. The assessment of our shortcomings and corrective measures should begin with national Intellectual Property Offices. After this, we would then step up to the ARIPO level to strategize and unblock bottlenecks,” said Masisi.

He said Africans have been trading and practicing intellectual property for a very long time, without the knowledge of its theories, principles and terminology. “Our forefathers composed songs, and they continuously improved their livelihoods and came up with solutions and implements to improve their agricultural, food, health, environmental and industrial practices,” said Masisi.

This year’s ARIPO Council of Ministers meeting was held under the theme of “Intellectual property for economic growth,” which Masisi said resonates with Botswana’s vision to become a high-income country anchored on a knowledge-based economy by 2036.

“We have been working on transforming the economy of Botswana from a resource-based economy to a knowledge-based one and have since realized that intellectual property cannot be left to the side lines if this is to become a reality,” Masisi said.

The president said that with support from the World Intellectual Property Organization, the ARIPO member states of Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Botswana, carried out studies to measure the economic contribution of copyright industries.

“In all instances, it was found that the creative sector competes well with traditional sectors in its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) and employment. The contribution to the GDP ranges from 3.46 percent to 5.46 percent, while with regard to employment, it stood between 2.66 percent and 5.63 percent,” said Masisi.

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