Rwanda Celebrates ‘World Intellectual Property Day’ 2012

Rwanda celebrated the international Intellectual Property Day on the 24th and 25th of May 2012. The Ministry of trade and commerce (MINICOM) invited the Ministry of Sports and Culture along with Ishyo Arts Centre to collaborate in setting up this 3rd edition under the theme of “The importance, process and challenges of protection of Rwanda’s National Heritage”.

This year, MINICOM decided to organize a 2 days’ workshop with an internationally renowned expert Mr. Getachew Mengistie Alemu of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) who initiated the Ethiopia’s Fine Coffee Trademarking and Licensing and was head of the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office.  This workshop brought together several stakeholders of Intellectual Property rights in Rwanda and took place in Kigali and in Huye. These stakeholders were from MINICOM, the MINISPOC, the INMR (Institute of National Museums of Rwanda), Ishyo Arts Centre, the IRST, and many more.

The first part of the workshop took place at the Kigali Serena Hotel on the 24th and was mostly about Mr Getachew defining the basic principles and presenting the case study of how Ethiopia further benefited from its coffee exports by globally enforcing its Intellectual Property rights. In between presentations, the Comedy Knights took over the stage with humorous illustrations of the respect, or lack thereof, of Intellectual Property rights in our day-to-day realities. In the afternoon several institutions i.e. the INMR, Ishyo Arts Centre, the IRST and MINICOM presented their field of work including the areas where IP could apply, and also the type of challenges they faced because the law n° 31/2009 of 26/10/2009 on the protection of intellectual property was barely enforced. After the presentations, the audience got to ask questions to all panelists before Mr Getachew got to close the workshops by first recognizing the incredible richness of Rwandan products, culture and traditions and their potential added value to our economic and cultural prosperity should IP rights be respected. Ikobe Music Group then officially started the networking cocktail with the beautiful sound it creates and strives to protect.

(picture courtesy of – From Left to Right: Hon. Minister F. KANIMBA, Mr G. MENGISTIE ALEMU, Expert from ARIPO and Dr J. VUNINGOMA of the Rwanda Academy of Language and Culture)

The second part of the workshop took place at the Ethnographic Museum in Huye were participants were welcomed by the highly creative museum troop that left all of them in awe. Next were two very important presentations from Mr Getachew and Mr Umuliisa, DG of the INMR that provided further clarifications on the status of Intellectual Property rights in Rwanda and also provided some lessons to be learned from the Ethiopian experience.

All in all, these two days left all participants hopeful that in a near future, our country, its communities and individuals will be able to reap what their imaginations, thoughts and heritage will have sown.

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