The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) refers to IP as creations of inventions, literally artistic works, designs and symbols, names and images used in business. Hence new knowledge embedded in innovation to solve real world problems should be protected.
Therefore, there is need to sensitize communities on the benefits of IP for socio-economic development. Further, access to modern technology by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) should be increased and supported by all key stakeholders and national governments in the Least Developing Countries (LDCs).
Agenda 2030 is a call to all governments to end poverty in all its forms everywhere.
The United Nations Sustainable Development (SDG) Goal 3 is linked to promote well-being for all ages. In addition Goal 9 highlights the significance of industry, innovation and infrastructure development as key to all governments.
In Zambia for example, it is quite evident that some successes have been shown on the level of infrastructure development and COVID-19 case management by local health experts with support from other sectors.
WHY SHOULD ZAMBIA HARNESS IP PROTECTION?
IP is an asset that requires a multi-sectoral approach to be demystified for society to see its benefits. Researchers should take advantage of the current National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy that was recently launched by Higher Education Minister Dr. Brian Mushimba.
The policy now incorporates key facets of innovation that were excluded in the 1996 National Science and Technology Policy. Prior to COVID-19 pandemic Zambia remained among the least innovative nations in the world. For example in 2019, the country was ranked 124 out of 129.
At the end of 2020 the country was ranked 122 out of 131 (GII 2020).
Research further shows that there is little knowledge about IP in LDCs including Zambia. For example, at national level, Patent Certificate and Registration Agency (PACRA) continue to encourage the business community to register all businesses and IP Rights and to remain compliant in filing annual returns.
With the advent impact of COVID-19 pandemic, climate change impact, there are more opportunities for Research and Development (R&D).
Therefore, governments in LDCs should play a key role to facilitate research activities. Innovation should be focused on the needs of a country to tackle problems in specific areas.
Therefore, enhanced knowledge on IP issues and enforcement of laws motivate inventors to make positive contributions to the growth of the economy in wealth creation. Enhanced public awareness is key for IP and Innovation to be developed strategically at national level and be market oriented.
Accordingly, there is need for government to play a major role to facilitate research activities that match with increased resource allocation. Linkages with key stakeholders should be strong and sustained for Zambia’s prosperity.
Zambia is a member of WIPO, WTO, African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) and the country subscribes to other conventions in the region.