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Five Facts to Note about PBR Status Quo in Africa

Reported by David Cochrane and Craig Kahn, Spoor & Fisher, South Africa, and prepared by CIOPORA Office.

Out of 54 states on the African continent roughly a half currently provide protection for Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR). While Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Zanzibar, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe have national PBR laws and offices, in other countries the protection is available through the regional African Intellectual Property Organisation (OAPI) system.

In 2020, there were developments with both the SADC Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, and the Arusha Protocol for the protection of New Varieties of Plants. Additionally, Ghana has passed a new PBR Bill that is awaiting official publication.

Here is what breeders seeking protection for their plant varieties on the African continent need to know about the existing and developing systems of PBR protection across Africa:

  1. African Intellectual Property Organisation (OAPI) - OAPI registrations extend automatically to all OAPI Member states that do not have their own national laws. A decision issued by a national court of any member state on the provisions of the OAPI law is binding on all other member states.

  2. Ghana - On 9 November 2020, a Plant Variety Protection Bill 2020 to establish a legal framework to protect the rights of breeders of new varieties of plants or plant groupings and to promote the breeding of new varieties of plants in Ghana, was passed into law. As the law is still awaiting Presidential Assent and publication, it may still be some time before it is possible to file for PBR protection in Ghana.

  3. Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, Southern African Development Community (SADC) - SADC is an intergovernmental organization headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana. Its goal is to further regional socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among 16 countries in Southern Africa. The SADC member states are ...


About the author:

Mr David Cochrane, Partner at Spoor and Fisher, South Africa

Mr Cochrane is an admitted Attorney of the High Court of South Africa. In his practice, he specializes in domestic and international patent matters, including the preparation and prosecution of patent applications. As an expert patent attorney, Mr Cochrane has extensive experience in filing patent applications in various technical fields, as well as Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR). He is the author of the PBR chapter of Dean & Dyer: Intellectual Property Law in South Africa. Being a fellow and a member of the South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law (SAIIPL), he acts as SAIIPL’s PBR Law & Practice lecturer and examiner.

Mr Craig Hahn, Partner at Spoor and Fisher, South Africa Craig has extensive experience in the filing and prosecution of patent, utility model and design applications as well as Plant Breeders’ Rights throughout Africa, including ARIPO and OAPI. He has experience in the drafting of patent specifications for biotechnology, genetic engineering and pharmaceutical products and has experience in patent and design enforcement in Africa.

Craig is a fellow of the South African Institute SA Institute of Intellectual Property Law (SAIIPL) and a member of International Federation of Intellectual Property (AIPPI).


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