Judging from the chatter amongst the participants at the Africa IP forum (25 – 27 February 2013) the Pan African Intellectual Property Organisation (PAIPO) was on the minds of many. However, it was not officially on the agenda and the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Davies’ welcome address skirted the issue. Prof Esme du Plessis, who chaired the second plenary (Access to medicines and incentivizing local production of generic medicines in Africa) mentioned it in passing in her commentary on the session but there was no subsequent discussion of the issue.
PAIPO is the joint creation of the African Union (AU) and NEPAD (see timeline and document archive here) and I hoped that representatives of these organisations would be at the Africa IP Forum. The formal acknowledgements made at the beginning of the forum did not refer to any AU or NEPAD functionary or official so it is reasonable to conclude that none was in attendance. The participant list was not circulated so I was not able to confirm whether the AU or NEPAD were represented at the Forum.
It would have been beneficial to discuss PAIPO at the Forum particularly as concerns have been raised about whether enough stakeholder consultation had been undertaken in relation to PAIPO. As many stakeholders attended the Forum it could have been used as some form of stakeholder engagement on the issue. The Forum was also a perfect platform on which to provide complete and up to date information on the status of the organisation as well as the role being taken by African states in its creation/development. Linda Daniels of IP Watch spoke to the Deputy Director General in the Department of Trade and Industry and reports that there are some hints of South African support or even leadership of PAIPO (see Linda’s report here). Hopefully all will be revealed at the May AU Summit, scheduled for 19-27 May (see AU website here for details).