Foreign IP filings into Africa

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According to estimates, Africa’s population will reach 2.4 billion by the year 2050. This will, in turn, create considerable opportunities in terms of economic growth which also creates opportunities in terms of innovation and a knowledge economy. Countries in Africa that have achieved rapid and sustained economic growth rates, which are projected to continue, include: Uganda, Benin, Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Libya.

As the African continent presents a large market with huge potential for economic growth and development, multi-national corporations are actively filing patents across the African continent. With a rapidly growing and evolving market in Africa, foreign intellectual property (IP) owners are extending their IP protection to Africa and commencing business operations here.

Growth, innovation and intellectual property is important to African countries in order for them to become producers of high-value knowledge-based goods and services. This will assist African countries in reversing existing trends, such as Africa importing most of what it consumes, and allow them the opportunity to add value to the products they export. Investing in innovation and protecting patents in Africa will support the production of new technologies, improve on old technologies and create employment and further opportunities for growth.

Reviewing the patent filings received by African patent offices, both nationally and regionally, provides insight into the technology and industry trends in Africa. It is important to keep in mind that not all technologies and industries lend themselves to patent protection. Nonetheless, patent filings at least reveal which industries are innovating and relying on patents for securing return on investment (ROI) in Africa.