On this page I will offer my own understanding of how developments relating to the Pan African Intellectual Property Organisation (PAIPO – commonly pronounced as ‘pie poe’) have unfolded and archive relevant official documents. I don’t have all the facts or documents, so if you have any information or documents please share these here by using the comment function at the foot of the page.
The developments are arranged chronologically with the most recent appearing first.
2018 (January) signature by Comoros. See list of signatures
2017 (July) Signature by Ghana
(July) signature by Sierra Leone
(January) the AU Summit (26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union) was held in Addis Ababa on 30 – 31 January 2016. Member states, the AU Commission and Regional Economic Communities were urged to continue working towards the implementation of the Agenda 2063 First Ten-Year Implementation Plan 2014-2023 (see Statement by South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on the occasion of the media briefing on the outcomes of the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union).
The AU formally adopted the final PAIPO statute on 31 January.
2015 (November) Details of PAIPO developments, if any, at the Specialized Technical Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs were not published on the AU website. The committee met on 2 November 2015 for its 2nd session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (see press release). According to the AU, the purpose of this meeting was to ‘ examine draft legal instruments’ and its outcome was intended to be ‘submitted to the forthcoming session of AU Policy Organs to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2016’.
2015 (September) The first ten year implementation plan for Agenda 2063, covering the years 2014 – 2023 provided the following details on the implementation of PAIPO (at p66):
- the PAIPO Draft statute would be reviewed by the Specialized Technical Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs and thereafter be approved by the Summit in 2016;
- consultations with Tunisia (Host Country) would be undertaken in 2017;
- the adoption of the Implementation Action Plan by the Assembly in ought to be achieved in 2017;
- PAIPO would then commence its activities in 2018; and
- should be fully functional by 2023.
AU member states and regional economic communities to which they belong are expected to implement the Malabo Decision on PAIPO.
2015 (June) The documentation published after the 2015 AU Summit does not minute any PAIPO related discussions.
2014 (June) the AU Assembly adopted STISA-2024 and directed that the Draft PAIPO Statute be sent to the Specialized Technical Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs. It endorsed Tunisia as the host of PAIPO’s headquarters and directed that an implementation road map should be prepared by the AU Commission, in consultation with Tunisia. The Assembly directed that progress on the implementation plan should be reported to the 2015 AU Summit.
Document: AU Assembly Decisions 2014
2014 (April) On 10 April ARIPO and OAPI issued a joint statement expressing their views on PAIPO and calling for further consultation that involved them, on the future of the PAIPO proposal. See my blog post entitled ‘PAIPO: ARIPO and OAPI speak’ on Afro-IP.
On 15-18 April AMCOST met in Brazzaville, Congo and approved the draft PAIPO statute (see an IST-Africa report here). AMCOST also approved the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA-2024) which expressly refers to PAIPO and confirms its mandate as being to lead IP policy direction, patent information dissemination and the provision of technical and financial support to innovation and research endeavours (at p.36).
2013 (August) The AU Commission held talks with Tunisia regarding the establishment of PAIPO. (see AU report)
2013 (May) The PAIPO stakeholder meeting was not part of the 21st Ordinary Session of the AU which was held from 19 – 27 May, in Addis Abbaba. It is not clear when the meeting will be held. The AU adopted its 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration that became the foundation for Agenda 2063, the implementation of which incorporates the operationalisation of PAIPO. For background on the Agenda, see the AU’s press release.
2013 (January): The 20th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Summit was held in Addis Ababa. The press release issued at the end of the Summit stated that the AU ‘The Heads of State … decided to create the Pan-African Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO). They requested the Commission to convene a meeting of all stakeholders dealing with intellectual property in the implementation of the Decision by May 2013 Summit.
Tunisia Live reported that Tunisia had offered to host PAIPO.
Comment: The Summit to be held in May will be a critical event because it should become apparent at that stage if the input on the Draft Statute has been taken on board by the AU. It also has the potential to become the first continental public consultative forum on PAIPO. The manner in which the Summit will be organised and conducted is very important. I will post any information I come across about it here.
2012 (November): The 5th African Union Ministerial Conference on Science & Technology (AMCOST V), Congo (Brazzaville). Paragraph 2.2.15 of the Ministerial Decisions document states that:
‘AMCOST takes note of the draft statutes of the Pan-African Intellectual Property Organisation (PAIPO) and commends the [African] Commission for the progress made so far in the implementation of the AU Assembly Heads of State and Governments’ decision Assembly/Decision AU/Dec.138 (VII). AMCOST requests the Commission to liaise with AMCOST Bureau and take the necessary actions to implement the assembly decision by 2013 in consultation with sectors dealing with intellectual property in Member States’.
Documents: AMCOST V agenda and presentations are available here.
The AU Press Release issued after AMCOST V – AU_ Statement by the African Union, on African Conference of Ministers of Science and Technology discussions (15_11_2012)
AMCOST V Ministerial Decisions – AUMINST Dec (V)
STRC AMCOST V – AMCOST V-STRC Progress report : This is a report by the AU division that has direct oversight of the PAIPO Statute Drafting Process.
Comment: News of the prioritization of PAIPO on the Agenda of AMCOST V generated a lot of online debates (for example here) and commentary (for example here), a journal paper ( see abstract) and a petition was hosted on change.org calling for a revision of the AU’s approach and the wording of the draft statute particularly with respect to the developmental aspects of IP.
2008 – 2011: The drafting of the PAIPO statute as well as any consultations took place during this period, with some technical assistance from WIPO (according to a WIPO report on the period 2008 -2009).
- 2011 Stakeholder workshop- WIPO Dakar Sept 2011 Stakeholders Workshop
- WIPO Report (2008-2009)- WIPO Report – Support to NEPAD
Comment: This is the ‘black hole’ where really important decisions and steps were taken. It is unfortunate that very little documentation is publicly available.
2007 (November): Progress Report presented to the African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology (AMCOST III).
According to this report since ‘January, 2007, the Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology… embarked on several activities to facilitate the operational existence of this continental structure. As a first step, the Department … appointed AU-STRC as the focal point for all PAIPO matters,and communication with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and other key stakeholders would proceed via this focal point. A consultant … [was] engaged to prepare a draft document defining the Constitutive Articles of the organization which [would] be subjected to discussions during the Stakeholders Meeting [scheduled] to be held early in 2008’.
Comment: The AU’s Scientific Technical Research Commission (AU-STRC) located in Nigeria is where it has all been happening. Presumably it appointed, instructed and had oversight over the consultant(s) who drafted the PAIPO statute. Its website provides limited information about PAIPO here.
2006 (November) : PAIPO concept paper published. According to the concept paper the logic behind creating PAIPO was ‘the realization that Africa needs a mechanism to facilitate far-reaching changes in the arena of intellectual property. However, such revolutionary reforms cannot be effected through exiting regional arrangements that are currently underpinned by geographical limitations and lack of continental inclusiveness. It would thus be necessary to establish a new decision-making machinery that would engage the participation of all Member States’.
Comment: the existing regional organisations referred to here are the African Regional IP Organisation (ARIPO) and l’organisation Africaine de la Propriété intellectuelle (OAPI). The members of each organisation are listed on their websites (here and here). Notably South Africa and Nigeria do not belong to either organisation, although they have observer status at ARIPO. There are many other countries that are not members of either organisation but I have singled these two states out because they are Africa’s strongest economies and have a lot of continental clout. It is possible that PAIPO will become a forum from which these two countries will lead the continent with respect to IP issues (For more on this perspective see Linda Daniel’s IP Watch’s report entitled ‘South Africa Leaning Toward Support Of Pan-African IP Office, Minister Says‘).
Pre-2006: see Joelle Dountio’s post on KEI entitled ‘Some key events in the early development of the proposal for a Pan African Intellectual Property Organization‘