The emergence of Nigeria and Algeria as host nations for the Africa Regional Offices of WIPO follows the decision taken at the Fifty-Fifth Series of Meetings of the Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO (October 2015), that priority should be given to Africa with respect to the issue of new WIPO External Offices, during the 2016/17 Biennium. Nigeria and Algeria emerged successful in the selection process which also had countries like Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia indicating interest to host the External Office of WIPO in Africa.
WIPO is the United Nation’s Specialized Agency with the mandate for promoting innovation, creativity and protection of Intellectual Property rights globally. With a membership of 188 countries, WIPO maintains a headquarters at Geneva, Switzerland, with five regional Offices located in Moscow-Russia (Europe); Tokyo –Japan, Beijing-China, Singapore-Phillipines (Asia); and Rio de Janeirio –Barazil (South America).
The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), on behalf of Nigeria, made the first written African request to WIPO. Thereafter, Nigeria’s Permanent Mission in Geneva, has continued to follow up on the process and facilitated the submission of the formal bid in line with the Guiding Principles for the Establishment of WIPO External Offices adopted at the 2015 WIPO General Assemblies; and also coordinated the Geneva-based negotiations culminating in the August 4 2016 success.
The success of Nigeria’s bid is not unconnected with its rising profile and fast growing culture-based and creative industries. Nigeria’s creative industries now constitute one of the fastest growing sectors of the global economy, boasting of the largest film industry in Africa and the second largest in the world in terms of output (Nollywood). Nigerian music, film, literature and art resonates across Africa and around the world, facilitating a cumulative annual output of approximately $2billion across film, music, Performing Arts, Fashion, Visual Arts, Advertising, TV and Broadcast, Arts and Antique, and Publishing – the total of which contributes not less than 1.42% to the country’s GDP.
Nigeria is a WIPO Member State and is party to many of WIPO’s administered treaties and agreements in both the area of copyright and industrial property including; the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations. The NCC is currently engaged in the requisite processes for ratification and domestication of other relevant and recent WIPO Treaties for which Nigeria has signed..
Aside its robust creative industry, Nigeria’s commendable coordination of the African Group of WIPO’s member states in Geneva with respect to WIPO matters, since January 2015 enhanced its engagement with other member states in concluding the External Office related negotiations.
WIPO’s network of External Offices forms an integral part of the Organization and is designed to bring WIPO’s services and cooperation closer to Member States, and intellectual property stakeholders. In doing so, the External Offices add clear value, efficiency and effectiveness to program delivery and respond to the specific needs and priorities of the countries and regions they serve.
A WIPO Office in Nigeria will, among others, position Africa to make better use of specific fit-for-purpose WIPO services to strengthen Nigeria/Africa’s creative and innovative sectors, add value to efforts towards evolution of the International Normative Framework for IP, enhance participation in the Global IP Services, facilitate international cooperation on Building Respect for IP, strengthen the interface between IP in relation to Global Policy Issues in the country, as well as facilitate the implementation of relevant development agenda recommendations of the United Nations System.
The formal process to conclude establishment of the WIPO External Office in Nigeria within the 2016/17 biennium will be completed in October 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland.