Many strides have been made since the establishment of the University Science, Humanities and Engineering Partnerships in Africa (USHEPiA) Intellectual Property Project in 2006.
The first development of its kind in Africa, the project has given muscle to intellectual property management at all UCT's partner universities: Botswana, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Dar es Salaam, Makerere, Nairobi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
USHEPiA intellectual property co-ordinator, Saudin Mwakaje of the University of Dar es Salaam, has visited the various campuses to present IP awareness seminars. Each of the member universities reported progress.
In 2006 a seminar was held at the University of Botswana, one that also attracted members outside the university. The seminar raised awareness of the implications of the commercialisation of humanities subjects such as art, writing and the production of artefacts, in terms of intellectual property rights.
At the University of Dar es Salaam a review of their Intellectual Property Policy was put before their Council for approval in March this year. An agreement between the university and the World Intellectual Property Organisation was signed for teaching and researching on intellectual property, and a distance-learning programme launched in 2007. The university also established an intellectual property society for its students.
Mwakaje reported high levels of intellectual property awareness at the University of Nairobi. Three seminars were held at Jomo Kenyatta, among the first of the USHEPiA partners (UCT was the first) to adopt an intellectual property policy.
Keen to promote technology transfer, Makerere University has established the Private Sector Forum to enhance joint research and technology development and to address private sector needs.
At the University of Zambia, where Mwakaje reported low levels of intellectual property awareness, a committee was formed to set up an intellectual property policy.
There was concern that the University of Zimbabwe's research output is at risk unless an appropriate intellectual property policy and management framework is established then. Mwakaje is helping them build an intellectual property policy and management infrastructure.
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