Is it Time for African Countries to Harmonise their Intellectual Property Management and Development –Reference to TRIPS Agreement?

"Africa’s continued dependency on foreign medicines and intellectual property (IP) is increasingly becoming a serious concern. This is compounded by an upsurge in drug resisting diseases like N1H1 and Tuberculosis that have been witnessed in the past years. A threat posed by the safety-concerned is that some of these diseases are potential agents of weapons of mass destruction. Of notable significance is that even though the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement has provided opportunities for African countries to review and adjust their intellectual property systems so as to migrate towards producing their own medicines. African countries have failed to capitalise on these opportunities. Most African countries are still dependent on donor funds for their health systems, thus reviewing IP policies might upset funding arrangements. Second, being that some African countries lack capabilities to develop their own technologies, due to financial constraints and limited research activities. In the face of these challenges it is here argued that African states need to consider a possibility of harmonising their approach towards strengthening intellectual property development as well as their stance in international agreements such as TRIPS, so that the position of one country complements that of the region or the continent. This paper, with reference to TRIPS, further discusses how African countries fail to openly express their positions in IP development and management at international stage."