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Intellectual Property Rights of Indigenous People: Indigenous IP Protection Efforts In Africa


The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) (thereafter referred to as “the Organization’), is an intergovernmental Organization, which was established in Lusaka, Zambia, in 1976 by an Agreement concluded under the auspices of the United National Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The Organization was created, inter alia, to promote the development of Intellectual Property laws appropriate to the needs of its members, establish common services and training schemes, assist its members in the acquisition and development of technology and the evolving of common views on Intellectual Property matters.


This is the link to OAPI, an organization of former Civil Law Countries that are trying to protect their IP rights.

The African Model

African nations have implemented their intellectual property protections through existing intellectual property treaties and organizations such as WIPO, WTO, TRIPPS, and GATT. Africa too has experienced the process of colonization, and as such, has also attempted to decolonize.[1] The long road to protection is a reflection of this colonial past and the many countries treaties are broken up into Anglophone and Francophone groups.[2] This past has meant that much of Africa’s recent history, intellectual property rights did not extend to “folklore” or “traditional knowledge,” as copyright, trademarks, and patents used by the common law or civil law systems did not acknowledge group ownership of such rights.

[1] Adebambo Adewopo, The Global Intellectual Property System and Sub-Saharan Africa: A Prognostic Reflection, 33 U. Tol. L. Rev. 749 (2002).

[2] Ibid.



This blog keeps up to date information on the status of IP law in Africa.

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