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Wednesday 24 April 2019
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Investing in our ideas

The object of protection in Intellectual property is tangible expressions of and intangible nature i.e. expressions of our intellect and creativity. However, in order for us to have these ideas to protect, there should be ideas to begin with. This means we need to take an active approach in investing in the intellectual and creative process that results in protecting ideas. This means creating a conducive environment to allow ideas to thrive and grow enough for us to protect them. A conducive environment for ideas to thrive means not only legislative but also quite literally providing areas for energetic creators to gather and share ideas, be given the opportunity to craft their ideas into tangible expressions with all the necessary resources they need. The resources are varied from financial, to human capital and access to networks, equipment of various sorts. We need to make capital accessible to the entrepreneur at low cost and easy collateral and we need to invest the establishment of short term skill centers.
Additionally, we need to assist creators and idea generators alike the opportunity to engage with each other and other supportive expertise at low cost. For instance, the IP professional, the financial advisor should be accessible to the creator for assistance as they develop their ideas. Lastly, we need to provide the equipment that creators need to bring their ideas to life. This will  be in form of the actual equipment i.e. sound engineering software and hardware but also the actual space in terms of recording spaces. In Namibia, a focus on investment in capacitating schools like the College of the Arts to ensure it is up to date with latest equipment to encourage idea generation or creating more spaces like FabLab for prototype generation.
On a continent like our boasting the various cultures we have, we tend to lean into very conservative career paths and a time is coming when the careers we looked up, will be equally important to the ones we thought lowly of. Most times, the creative industry is not encouraged and enabled in our societies and this will have to change if we want to see adequate economic growth. A vivid example is Nigeria, a country that toped the African economies because of the explosion of their movie and music industries in the last couple of years.
This is an indication of the potential that exists if we invest in allowing the creators to thrive. In such a case, we should focus education on different elements of musical and motion picture art. For instance investing the education around music production and engineering with small sized vocational schools with practical learning facilities like studios equipped with all the specialized technology necessary to learn about music. Similarly with motion picture production, it requires skills and expertise that should be invested into.
The world is currently moving onto the fourth revolution while Africa lags behind. A worthy investment would be our digital technology field and further to the various skills and expertise that require the development of a digital technology infrastructure. Such infrastructure could result in the output that would be eligible for protection especially in terms of patents. The low laying fruit in digital technology are found in software coding for application and website development, investment into infrastructure and education to equip young and creative minds to create in this area is imperative if we want to see growth in our continent. Countries like Kenya and South Africa have made strides in equipping youth to venture into digital technology as a career path.
In a beautiful before and after story of Intellectual Property, Ethiopia rallied up it’s professionals to assist coffee farmers to obtain branding rights in form of trademarks over the various types of coffee.
Prior to the trademark rights and other forms of Intellectual Property, we see the coffee farmers selling 1 kilogram of coffee for USD1 but after securing protection, they managed to increase the price to USD6 per kilogram. The difference means a better livelihood for them and definitely a better means of business operations. This is the potential of IP in this continent but we need to invest in the ideas themselves.




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