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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Justice minister pledges gov’t’s commitment to strengthen intellectual property laws

She said at a four-day seminar organised by the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Chambers in partnership with the Africa Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (Aripo) that “the government of The Gambia under President Yahya Jammeh recognises the value of intellectual property as an important component of the development of the modern state. It goes without saying that the progress of modern states do not only depend on the natural resources available in its land area. Rather, the progress of any state is increasingly dependent on the standard of knowledge of its people. Therefore, in order to optimise this knowledge, the formulation of appropriate research, science and technology policies, which drive innovation and economic development, is imperative. An essential tool in these policies is an efficient and functioning intellectual property system.

“For Africa in general and The Gambia in particular, the intellectual property landscape leaves much to be desired compared to the more developed parts of the world. Data revealed by WIPO over the years have consistently indicated that Africa’s contribution to all intellectual property fillings and registrations is less than 3%. In the midst of the unattractive figures lies an irrefutable fact that our countries in Africa still have great untapped potential in the different areas of intellectual property.”

“African countries are taking active steps in protecting their intellectual property titles especially those linked to their natural resources. Countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, and Ghana have successfully used the trademark regime to protect their coffees, teas and cocoa industries respectively. The Gambia has not been left behind in these endeavours. In order to give strategic direction to efforts aimed at innovation and technological development the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology was hived off from the Ministry of Education as a separate ministry in 2007. A National Science and Technology Policy (2013-2022) has been drafted and is currently in the process of vigorous stakeholders validation. We have initiated the process of formulating a national property policy and strategy with support from World Intellectual Property Organisation.”

Speaking earlier, the director general of Aripo, Dr Fernando Dos Santos, said the Banjul event is the fifth in the series of roving seminars that the organisation has planned for the next two years in order promote the use of intellectual property in the Aripo member states.

“The Gambia joined Aripo soon after its creation. Indeed, The Gambia joined the Lusaka Agreement in February 1978 and the Harare Protocol in January 1976. Since The Gambia has been an active member of the organisation and has contributed to its growth, in 1991, The Gambia hosted the diplomatic conference that approved the protocol on trademarks known as the The Banjul Protocol. We believe this engagement with Aripo and its initiatives is a clear testimony of the commitment of the government of The Gambia in developing a sound intellectual property system in Africa and its support to this organisation.”

Cherno Marenah, the registrar general who is also overseeing the Intellectual Property Unit at Attorney General’s Chambers also spoke at the event.


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