The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) and the Zimbabwe Open University have signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to Jointly offer a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in Intellectual Property.
The agreement according to Paul Henry Gundani, Vice-Chancellor of Zimbabwe Open University, will allow the university to leverage on ARIPO’S expertise to deliver various IP training programs to candidates with diverse academic and professional backgrounds, which would in turn help to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and industrialization in Zimbabwe and other Sub-Saharan African countries.
“It is my hope that through this collaboration we can help our people to properly and fully exploit the value of their IP capital and at the same time protect them from unnecessary and avoidable costly litigation that may arise as a result of infringing on other people’s intellectual property rights,” Prof. Gundani said.
Vice-Chancellor Gundani added that the partnership with ARIPO seeks to increase IP awareness among academic staff and researchers who have been exploited of their ground-breaking research work by IP miners.
“Thus, through this collaboration, ZOU will undertake an IP audit and develop a robust IP policy to guide future intellectual property generation, exploitation, commercialization and management. Therefore, our new focus will be on “protect, publish and prosper”.
The ZOU Vice-Chancellor added that under this MOU, the two institutions will jointly offer a Master of Commerce in intellectual property or MBA in intellectual property as well as short courses on IP as the earliest opportunity.
“All our graduates need to know the role of IP in economic development and ZOU will mainstream IP education in all degree programmes by offering a mandatory online course. The short-term executive and non-executive IP courses will be designed for government, local authorities, parastatals, corporates and small and medium enterprises. Because of the lack of IP awareness, a lot of our SMEs are not fully benefiting from their intellectual property,” Prof. Gundani said.
In remarks, the Director-General of ARIPO, Fernando Dos Santos, appreciated the Vice-Chancellor of ZOU for the effort undertaken towards developing the capacity of this University to offer IP education to business students, business professionals and SME innovators and entrepreneurs.
According to Dos Santos, ARIPO in 2008 partnered with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and Africa University in Mutare to offer a Masters in IP Program which has so far graduated 324 students from 26 countries across Africa.
“70 of these graduates are from Zimbabwe, thus it is my ardent hope that the IP capacity building programs in ZOU will have a pool of experts to draw from over and above ARIPO’s commitment to ZOU by way of experts to assist in the programs.
“The MOU we are officially signing today here at ZOU will usher in the opportunity for ARIPO to play a critical role in enhancing expertise in the field of intellectual property as well as working with ZOU to develop the envisaged executive certificate and an executive diploma in IP Management targeting industry executives who would want to learn more about IP,” Dos Santos said.
Dos Santos further said ZOU will be joining the likes of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi-Ghana, which launched a two-year Master of Philosophy in Intellectual Property in 2018; and University of Dar es Salaam, which launched an 18-month Masters in IP in August 2019. Their first cohorts are scheduled for graduation in June and November respectively this year.
“ARIPO is undertaking all these initiatives to ensure that our continent is well resourced with IP experts who can help in shaping the IP landscape in Africa,” he said.