It is important to protect property rights of innovators and researchers if Rwanda is to successfully develop and safeguard creative industries, Emmanuel Hategeka, the Ministry of Trade and Industry Permanent Secretary, has said.
He said enforcing the copyright law on intellectual property will strengthen local technological knowledge base and help steer the country’s growth.
Hategeka was speaking during a national seminar on copyright and related rights in Kigali early this week. The seminar was organised by the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
He challenged innovators and artistes to study and understand local and international copyright laws if they are to benefit from their works.
“It’s an economic setback if you can’t benefit from your innovations because of piracy,” he said.
Hategeka urged the East African Community member countries to harmonise copyright laws to help reduce barriers in trade and research.
Keitseng Nkah Monyatsi, a copyrights officer from the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation, cautioned stakeholders against the dangers presented by the advancements in information technology.
“The advancement of information technologies poses great challenges to the protection of copyright, but it also offers businesses opportunities that you can exploit and become more competitive on the international market,” she noted.
She said it is unfortunate that copyright on intellectual property is not prioritised in Africa.
“We talk about patterns, brands and trademarks, but ignore the issue of protecting intellectual property. This has affected the continent’s development,” Monyatsi said.
Epaphrodite Binamungu, the president of Rwanda Society of Authors (RSA), said enforcing the copyright law will encourage talent development. “The youth are investing a lot in the cultural industry, which has become a major source of income, but they need protection,” Binamungu said.
Rwanda adopted a legal framework on intellectual property in 2009 and became a member of ARIPO in 2011.