The Microsoft 4Afrika Intellectual Property Hub is a portal being piloted in Kenya
over the next two years, which will give developers and independent software
retailers the means and expertise necessary to grow, protect and monetise
their products and services.
Small African businesses are susceptible to exploitation as they do not yet
employ established copyright, trademark, trade name or patent programs. By
purely relying on secrecy, these businesses miss out on opportunities for
success across the continent.
Between 2009 and 2012 the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)
confirmed that resident patent applications in Kenya amounted to only 383
submissions. These numbers align with other countries in Africa such as in Egypt
which had 683, South Africa which had 608 and the Ivory Coast which had 53.
Compared to the 268,000 resident patents applications filed in the US during
the same period, the African numbers are significantly low.
Louis Otieno, Director for Legal and Corporate Affairs at Microsoft 4Afrika said,
“Most African innovators function on the premise that the idea is theirs until
someone else takes it to market, or duplicates it. As Africa’s innovation
continues to flourish, the future remains uncertain if these promising ideas are
not supported and protected properly.’
Filing IP protection can be intimidating to many Africans, who are uninformed
about what the process requires or entails. The Microsoft 4Afrika Intellectual
Property Hub aims to address these problems by providing user friendly,
streamlined and digitised procedures, while educating young innovators about
the importance of protecting their works.
“The Microsoft 4Afrika innovation goal is to bring to market and help African
start-ups monetise their innovations and ideas, and allow them to make the
right connection with investors. Protecting intellectual property ultimately leads
to wealth creation and economic growth, and encourages development of
knowledge-based industries. We designed the IP Hub to play a critical role in
empowering African innovators and spurring this growth,’ Otieno concluded.
Visit the Microsoft 4Afrika
website for more information.