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The Quest For Formulation Of IP Policy



As a result of rapid changes in technology, the capacity to create, innovate and continuously exploit innovations is a necessary condition for social, economic and industrial growth and survival of a nation. Nigeria as a nation has come off with various groundbreaking inventions and innovations which were mismanaged in the past due to our weak Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) culture.

The government now has realized the importance of intellectual property as a vital tool and an economic asset needed to invigorate the Nigerian economy and make it globally competitive leading to better nurturing of creativity, inventiveness and innovation.

Accordingly, the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) and the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) are working in synergy to formulate a functional national policy on intellectual property (IP) to encourage market and demand-driven research in the country.

The arrangement was brought to the table when the director-general of NCC, Mr. John Asien and his management team paid a courtesy visit on the director-general of NOTAP, Dr. DanAzumi Ibrahim recently in his Abuja office.

The NOTAP boss while welcoming his guests said the agency was established primarily to regulate the inflow of foreign technology through the registration of technology transfer agreements and at the same time assist in development and promotion of indigenous technologies.

While carrying out the registration of technology transfer agreements, he said NOTAP noticed that Nigeria expends a lot of resources on the importation of foreign technology, pointing out that for a country aspiring to be one of the biggest economies by 2020, Nigeria could not continue to depend on foreign technology hence the need to develop local technologies.

He referred to Japan, which he noted does not have one quarter of the natural resources that Nigeria has but has developed to become one of the world’s technology superpowers based on her inventive and innovative prowess. He explained that global emphasis had been shifted from resource-based to knowledge-based economy because “knowledge rules the world”.

Ibrahim further revealed that owing to the need to clearly chart a strategic course towards Nigeria’s technological development, NOTAP in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2006 kick-started the demystification of technology through the establishment of intellectual property and technology transfer offices (IPTTOs) in some Nigerian knowledge institutions.

He said five IPTTOs were established as a test case and since then, NOTAP has established 43 other IPPTOs across the country in both public and private establishments, with some positive results coming from a couple of the centers.

In his speech on the occasion, the director-general of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Mr. John Asien said their visit was to reinvigorate the relationship between the two establishments as no agency can fully actualize its mandate without collaborating with another.

He remarked that the establishment of IPTTOs in some Nigerian universities and polytechnics by NOTAP was a strategic step that could change Nigeria’s narrative on technology lack. He however expressed concern that some of the established IPTTOs are already working without a functional intellectual property policy. His agency, he added, is desirous of collaborating with NOTAP to ensure the actualization of IP policies in the knowledge institutions

Asien further said it was disturbing to note that Nigeria does not have a functional national IP policy and strategy that could facilitate the development of intellectual property culture and protection in the country, adding the World Intellectual Property Organization, and other relevant IP related organizations would be glad to support the initiative of formulating a national IP policy for Nigeria.

A statement by the acting head, public relations and protocol unit of NOTAP, Mr Raymond Ogbu said the two chief executive officers agreed on the need to establish a joint committee comprising selected officials of both establishments that would serve as a platform to drive the process of engaging other stakeholders towards the formulation and adoption of a national IP policy. The committee is expected to submit a draft IP policy for consideration by the management of the two agencies, he added.