On the 22nd day of May 2021, AfronomicsLaw Academic Forum held a Guest Lecture titled 'Trade Facilitation: The Key to a Borderless Africa'. The esteemed speakers were Dr Tsotang Tsietsi and Mr Craig Merito, who addressed the role of trade facilitation as a mechanism to enhance intra-African trade. Dr Tsietsi, the first speaker, is a Senior Lecturer at the National University of Lesotho. She holds an LLM from the University of Cambridge and a PhD from the University of Cape Town. Mr. Craig Merito is an international trade expert and consultant with over 25 years of experience. This piece will reflect on the issues raised by Dr Tsietsi before proceeding to those encompassed by Mr. Merito.
Information and Communication Technologies
Nigeria’s role in shaping international intellectual property law deserves more scholarly attention. That is not to say that Nigeria’s role in this regard has not been acknowledged in the existing literature. For instance, Nigeria’s role as part of the state actors from developing countries that opposed the inclusion of intellectual property into the Uruguay Round that led to the creation of the WTO is well documented. Nevertheless, Nigeria’s role in other fora and venues where issues relating to international intellectual property law are being negotiated and discussed deserves more attention. In this regard, this blog post will focus on Nigeria’s role in the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Due to constraints of space, it is not possible to provide an exhaustive examination of Nigeria’s contributions to WIPO’s work. The focus here will solely be on Nigeria’s role within the context of the work of WIPO’s Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP). The CDIP was established in 2008 after the adoption of WIPO’s Development Agenda in 2007 (more about this below). Specifically, this post will highlight the role played by Nigeria in securing the inclusion of an agenda item on ‘Intellectual Property and Development’ at CDIP.
This contribution proposes that African governments consider adopting border reform concessions that cover a range of solutions besides infrastructure. Should a concession be limited to infrastructure provision alone, the net effect of infrastructure on trade efficiency needs to be determined in an endeavour to arrive at fair user charges.
Many governments, including those in Africa, have adopted travel restrictions and physical-distancing policies to reduce the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19). These are most important for urban areas where population is dense. As a result, consumers, companies, organisations and individuals are increasingly exploring digital solutions to continue at least some economic and social activity remotely, but which, due to a gap in digital readiness, cannot be used by all, in particular not by those in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). This state of affairs raises the questions of how to bridge the divide and facilitate physically-distant work and what significant and constructive role could digital trade law play in Africa?
A response to informality includes the suggestion that policy makers should formalize informal entities and activities. This suggestion holds that, responding to informality in such a way will ultimately help create better jobs, improve productivity and reduce poverty. But then, the question again arises at this point: is formalization the optimal solution? Shouldn’t the focus in the short-term rather be to improve conditions for informal sector actors and the spaces in which they operate than formalize? These are some of the broad challenges facing Africa, the AU and the governments of respective member states and other stakeholders as Africa proceeds with the AfCFTA.