By Ms. Maureen Fondo, Head of Copyright and Related Rights and Mr. Amadu Bah, Copyright and Related Rights Officer, ARIPO


The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) 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, and assist its members in the acquisition and advancement of technology and the advancement of common views on Intellectual Property (IP) matters. This mandate was further expanded to include Copyright and Related Rights.

ARIPO received the mandate on Copyright and Related Rights during the Eighth Session of the Council of Ministers held from 29 to 30 August 2002 in Mangochi, Malawi. Since then the Organization is implementing strategies to facilitate copyright exploitation and protection in the region and make the Copyright systems compatible with international standards for the benefit of the Member States. The strategies included the revision of the founding charter of ARIPO – the Lusaka Agreement.

The revised Lusaka Agreement introduced new provisions dealing with broader policy matters in respect of Copyright and Related Rights, such as emerging trends at the international level in the field of Copyright and Related Rights management and identification of policy options to address them.

Implementation of the Copyright Mandate

 With the copyright mandate put in place, there was need for the restructuring of the Organization, which included the establishment of a Copyright and Related Rights Department, formerly Copyright and Related Rights Directorate. In January 2011, a Copyright and Related Rights Officer was recruited. This was followed by a decision of the 37th Session of the Administrative Council held in Kampala, Uganda in November 2013, to establish the Technical Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (TCCR). The Committee’s overall objective is to address technical issues on copyright and related rights; to provide guidance and recommendations to the Administrative Council; to consider or approve activities or initiatives of the secretariat that will ensure that creativity contributes to the socio-economic and cultural development and growth of the Member States.

Policy and Legislation Development

The copyright mandate is geared towards assisting Member States amongst others: in the formulation and development of policy, coordination and harmonization of the copyright and collective management systems and protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) to improve the copyright ecosystem and shaping the copyright landscape in the region. The Organization among other things has so far assisted the Member States in developing policies and instituting of legislative reforms.

The comparative study[1] of 18 out of 19 [2]ARIPO Member States’ Copyright and Related Rights Laws was undertaken in 2016 and 2017. The study was then consolidated in 2018. It was aimed at informing the ARIPO office, its Member States and the general public on the status of national laws and their adherence to international copyright and related rights instruments. Such information will contribute towards advising Member States on policy issues, harmonising the laws and also improving the national legislations for the benefit of all stakeholders nationally and internationally so as to ensure growth and development in the Copyright and Related Rights arena.

In 2018, the Legal Framework on Voluntary Registrations and Notifications of Copyrights and Related Rights systems was considered and approved by the Administrative Council of ARIPO. The development of the legal framework was based on, among other things the policy framework derived from the feasibility study report on voluntary registration and notification system that was undertaken in 6 ARIPO Member States: Ghana, the Gambia, Malawi, Namibia, Kenya and Zambia.

Considering that a good number of ARIPO Member States do have provisions for the voluntary registration of copyright and related rights, it was deemed necessary to develop a regional framework which will serve not only as a means of registration of copyrighted works, but also as a source of information on the works generated within the continent as a whole. In 2019, the Council of Ministers approved the reformulation of the legal framework on the establishment of a regional voluntary copyright registration and notification system into a Draft Protocol for possible adoption at a Diplomatic Conference to be held in Kampala, Uganda in July 2020 but due to the disruptions by the Covid-19 pandemic made it impossible to undertake the Conference in July 2020 and in November 2020 the Council scheduled the Diplomatic Conference to be undertaken in July 2021.

In preparation for the future operationalization of the Protocol, the secretariat was directed by the Finance and Audit Committees to develop a Business Case to show the monetary and non-monetary benefits that Member States can derive from the establishment of a regional voluntary copyright registration and notification system. The Business Case was developed. It includes the investments required, projected revenue and a 5-year plan for the implementation of the Protocol on Voluntary Copyright Registration and Notification System.  It should be noted that the voluntary registration system is primarily a public policy issue as it addresses the public interest of millions of rights holders, and contributes to national GDP and employment creation in the ARIPO Member States.

Furthermore, the secretariat has developed a Model Law on Copyright and Related Rights (2019)[3], which was approved by the Administrative Council in 2017 and was published in October 2019. It seeks to harmonise Member States laws to ensure the effective and adequate administration of the Copyright systems across the ARIPO region. However, the ARIPO Model Law is a minimum standard guidance on what Member States may take on board in their legislation’s. This means they can go beyond what the Model has provided. ARIPO will continue to review the law as and when necessary.

Also, in 2016, ARIPO developed Guidelines for the Ratification or Accession to the Marrakesh Treaty[4]. The guide is to persuade governments to expedite the process of either ratifying or acceding to the Marrakesh Treaty and domesticating the Treaty in their national laws for the benefit of persons who are blind, visually impaired or print disabled. This has proven to be successful, as 11 ARIPO Member States namely: Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe, Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe have joined the Marrakesh Treaty[5].

In addition to that, the secretariat developed the ARIPO Guidelines for Ratification or Accession and Domestication of International Instruments on Copyrights and Related Rights[6] which was adopted in November 2018. The guide addresses the needs and benefits of to ARIPO Member States and can help to persuade their Governments to expedite the process of either ratifying or acceding to international copyright and related rights instruments and domesticate the treaties in their national laws for the benefit of the right holders and creative industries in their respective countries.

Additionally, ARIPO adopted the Comprehensive Agenda for Copyright and Related Rights (Harare Strategic Plan), during the symposium on Copyright and Related Rights held in Harare in 2017. The Strategic plan is aimed at reaching a level playing field in the global copyright ecosystem while balancing the interest of all stakeholders. It has seven key pillars, which are as follows: policy and legislation, institutional framework (administrative infrastructure), capacity building and awareness creation, building evidence-based information pipelines for copyright or creative industries, building partnerships and synergies, enforcement, monitoring and evaluation.

Another strategic plan adopted by the Organization is the ARIPO-CISAC Africa Strategic Plan for CMOs in June 2017. The specific objective of this strategic plan was for the CMOs to secure for right holders fair remuneration proportionate to the use of their works. The general objectives are as follows: promotion of creativity, promotion of investment and job creation in the cultural and creative industries, promotion of cultural diversity, contribution to economic diversification and tax revenue growth and promotion of regional economic integration.

During the 1st Regional Meeting for Heads of Copyright and Related Rights from across 45 African countries, including 16 ARIPO Member States and 5 Observer States, the Nairobi Strategic Plan was developed and adopted in June 2019. The Nairobi Strategic Plan has been included into the Harare Strategic Plan to guide every African Country to achieve the development of an effective and efficient copyright system in Africa. This meeting was as a result of a Tripartite Agreement that was signed between WIPO, OAPI and ARIPO (WAO) in 2018. The Nairobi Strategic Plan has the following pillars:  policy, legal framework-norm setting and implementation, securing the value chain-economic environment, enhancing capacity and awareness creation.   ARIPO and its strategic partners come up with initiatives that facilitate the implementation of the Strategic Plans.

Development of common African position at the ongoing SCCR discussions- ARIPO Perspective.

ARIPO has over the years participated actively in the norm setting processes of WIPO and provided expert advice to champion the positions of Africa in the various WIPO Standing Committees. It is within this context that ARIPO was requested by the African Group during a meeting organised by the African Union in Geneva, Switzerland in 2018 to develop a situational analysis document. In February to March 2019, the Secretariat developed and submitted the document to the African Group, which provides critical situational analysis within the ARIPO Member States and Observer State[7] regarding the following issues: protection of broadcasting organizations, limitations and exceptions for libraries, archives, educational and research institutions and for persons with other disabilities, proposal for analysis of copyright  and related rights to the digital environment and  proposal from Senegal and Congo to include the resale right (droit de suite) in the agenda of future work by the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights of the WIPO.

In 2020, ARIPO provided a written statement to the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) to support the proposal made by the Government of Sierra Leone, Malawi and Panama to have a study focused on “Public Lending Rights” (PLR) and encouraged the ARIPO Member States to support and contribute constructively to the proposal.

Capacity building and awareness creation

Over the years, ARIPO has embarked on developing both human and institutional capacity to increase awareness on Copyright and Related Rights issues in order to enhance the effective implementation of the mandate on copyright and related rights.  On that note, ARIPO has so far trained more than 2,500 participants across Member and Observer States. This has been achieved by conducting approximately over 50 seminars since the inception of the mandate in 2002 to date.  These included: training seminars, workshops for copyright offices, collective management organizations and enforcement agencies. ARIPO has continued to build capacity and increase awareness in various copyright areas. Key amongst them are the Annual Copyright Symposium (ACS), which brings together heads of copyright and related rights and collective management organizations to engage and discuss on issues related to the development of copyright and related rights and the regional trainings on collective management of copyright and related rights, which has been undertaken in partnership with the Norwegian Copyright Development Association (NORCODE) and other Strategic Partners.

Awareness Raising

The Secretariat has developed copyright publications that are geared towards increasing awareness on a number of aspects related to copyright and related rights. Please follow the link to access ARIPO copyright publications: Currently,  forteen (14) Copyright and Related Rights publications have been published from 2016 to 2020, which includes amongst others the Awareness Raising guide[8], which was published in 2016.

The main objective of the Awareness Raising Guide was to assist countries to be systematic when developing and implementing awareness initiatives, thus enabling ARIPO to play a key role in information gathering, facilitating exchange and evaluating the effectiveness of awareness raising programs across Member States. The Guide contains various approaches that could be used to develop awareness raising programs that are relevant to target groups in the Member States. The most recent publications are the ARIPO Online Collective Management Organization (CMO) Report and the Guidelines for the Development of a Business Plan for ARIPO Member States CMOs published in 2021. The two documents aim at providing Member States with relevant information to inform policy decisions and the development of Collective Management of Copyright and Related Rights. the other publications are Cultural Festivals and Events in ARIPO Member States, and the Guidelines to Audio visual Contracts which were published online in 2020 and distributed electronically to Member States.

ARIPO in cooperation with WIPO and Japan Patent Office collaborated with Hatcliffe 2 Council Primary School in Harare, Zimbabwe, Zuvva Fashion, Dereck Mpofu IP Ambassador for Zimbabwe, Monolio Studio and Chosen Media Africa to produce and published online in 2020 a song on trademark counterfeit and piracy and a short video to promote respect for IP targeting young people. The content was shared with Member States to be used for awareness creation in their country’s.

Institutional Framework

In November 2018, the output of the copyright department was increased from one to two personnel,  with the recruitment of a Copyright and Related Rights Officer to assist the Head of Copyright and Related Rights in the implementation of the IP Ecosystem for Growth and Work Program and to also assist in the provision of technical and policy advice, information and analysis to key stakeholders.

Over the years there has been an improvement in the oversight role played by the Copyright Offices (COs) and significant developments in the management and administration of copyright and collective management. This can be attributed to the significant technical and financial support provided by ARIPO and its partners.

In 2016, a CMO survey[9] was conducted in partnership with the Norwegian Copyright Development Organization to evaluate and analyse the level of CMOs across ARIPO Member States. In 2020 the Online CMO report[10] highlights key findings from information received from fourteen (14) CMOs in ten (10) ARIPO Member and one Observer States.

There is the ongoing development of the Regional Copyright Database, through support from the Directorate General of Intellectual Property, Ministry of Law and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia, (DGIP) and an MoU was signed in December 2020 to implement this initiative.

Over the years, the secretariat has been actively involved in the establishment of CMOs in Member States, such as The Gambia, Liberia and Lesotho and the secretariat is looking forward to establish CMOs in the remaining Member States, which includes: Eswatini, Sierra Leone, São Tomé and Príncipe and Sudan. Most recently, upon request, the Secretariat developed a proposal for the establishment of a CMO in the Kingdom of Eswatini as a result of needs assessment carried out with support from WIPO and a roadmap was developed for the establishment of a CMO in Eswatini and the Secretariat, WIPO and Eswatini are implementing the roadmap which includes the drafting of the Eswatini Regulations on CMOs and the Copyright Act among other things. Furthermore, the secretariat assisted in the development of regulations for the Copyright Society of Liberia (COSOL) and also assisted in drafting the Constitution of the Lesotho Copyright Society of Authors and Artists (LESCOSAA), which was duly registered at the Registrar Generals Office in Lesotho.


Since the inception of the mandate on copyright and related rights, the Secretariat has signed MOUs with the following: International Federation of Reproduction Rights (IFRRO) 2006, the Norwegian Copyright Development Association (NORCODE) 2014, International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) 2017, International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) 2017, FUNDACION AISGE (2018) and Arterial Network (2018), Directorate General of Intellectual Property (DGIP) Republic of Indonesia (2020). Other organizations that the Copyright and Related Rights Department is working closely with are the World Intellectual Property Organization, United States Department of Justice, United States Patents and Trade Marks Office and the Copyright Department of OAPI.

These partner organizations have significantly contributed and supported ARIPO both technically and financially for the implementation of the mandate on copyright and related rights. However, similar support has also been provided directly to ARIPO Member and Observer States.


The copyright and related rights mandate has so far proven to be very useful as significant achievements have been made since inception in 2002. This includes the adoption of the African Copyright and Related Rights Agenda in 2017, which was complemented by the Nairobi Strategic Plan in 2019, to name but a few. There is also a steady growth in capacity and awareness and the development of copyright and collective management organizations across the ARIPO region. ARIPO is looking forward to continuing playing its key role in the development of copyright and related in its Member States and Africa at large.

[1]The Comparative Studies on ARIPO Member States Copyright Laws 2016,2017 and Consolidated in 2018  are assessable online at

[2] At the time of the study, there were 19 Member States but ARIPO currently has 20 Member States since September 25 2020 with the joining of Mauritius.

[3] The ARIPO Model Law on Copyright and Related Rights is accessible online at

[4]The ARIPO Guideline for Ratification or Accession and Domestication of the Marrakesh Treaty is accessible online at:


[6] The ARIPO Guidelines for Ratification or Accession and Domestication of International Instruments on Copyrights and Related Rights is accessible online at

[7] Ethiopia

[8] The Awareness Raising Guide is accessible online at

[9]The ARIPO CMO Survey, (2016) is accessible online at

[10] The Online CMO Report, (2020)