The legal construction of geographical indications in Africa

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This paper discusses how African organisations and countries construct their geographical indication (GI) systems. It makes three primary arguments. First, that the nascent GI agenda in Africa is driven by the European Union (EU) to principally promote European interests. Nonetheless, African countries can benefit from GI regimes by crafting laws that promote African interests. Second, that simply embracing the introduction of GI laws will not result in the EU's promised socioeconomic development in Africa. This is because multifarious factors including infrastructure, investment, branding, marketing and security are required to realise successful GI regimes. Third, that African countries must leverage contextually customised GI regimes to maximise the potentials they present. Contextually customised GI regimes can engender socioeconomic development. Beyond the EU's agenda-setting technologies, international affiliations and treaty boundaries shape GI laws in Africa, which inform the marked variation in its GI systems. This variation reflects the dissonance in international treaties for GIs. While African countries align with demandeurs that espouse stronger GIs laws at the international level, the only regional instrument on GIs in Africa is its Continental Strategy for GIs. In examining examples from the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle, the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, this timely paper maintains that although GIs present promises of socioeconomic development, policymakers, lawmakers and relevant African stakeholders must caution against their often-overlooked pitfalls. As ultimately, it is the responsibility of Africans, not foreigners, to guarantee the generation of thriving GI ecosystems for African products.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of World Intellectual Property
Issue numbern/a
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Dec 2022


  • Africa
  • geographical indications
  • Kenya
  • Nigeria
  • OAPI
  • South Africa


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