US Envoy Tasks Nigeria on Job Creation, New Markets

Bennett Oghifo

U.S. Embassy Chargé d’affaires, Kathleen FitzGibbon, has stated that strong intellectual property rights protection is essential for creating jobs and opening new markets for goods and services.

FitzGibbon, according to a statement by Public Affairs Section (PAS), U.S. Consulate General in Lagos, made this observation yesterday during a two-day Intellectual Property (IP) Symposium on the theme “The Bane of Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals and Piracy.”

The symposium, which was attended by senior officials from Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA), legislators, lawyers, business, and technology leaders, was organised by the U.S. Mission in Nigeria and the American Business Council, in partnership with the Government of Nigeria and members of the private sector, the statement said.

The envoy emphasised the importance of intellectual property rights protection, which she said “enables the innovation and creativity needed to bolster economic growth.”

She said: “This is not just an American issue, this is a global issue and as Nigeria moves ahead with goals of diversifying and shifting to a knowledge-based economy, a strong intellectual property rights regime will help attract investment and protect Nigerian ideas and Nigerian businesses.”

She urged government, consumers and businesses to join forces in ensuring the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.

Others who spoke at the opening of the symposium include a member of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training, Robert Bowman and a leading intellectual property scholar and the IP Chair at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Professor Adebambo Adewopo.

The statement said students of the Caro Favored Schools of Ajegunle presented a dramatic sketch, which was designed to raise awareness among young Nigerian consumers about the importance of trademarks, brands and dangers of counterfeited products.

The symposium also featured panel discussions, exhibitions and the screening of a documentary “Fishbone,” a Nollywood-produced film, on the menace of counterfeited pharmaceuticals and their effect on both Nigeria citizens and the local economy.

“Through economic diplomacy overseas, the United States encourages host-nation governments to establish predictable legal regimes to ensure intellectual property rights can be secured,” the statement said.

It said as a follow-up to the IP symposium, the regional taskforce against counterfeit pharmaceuticals and health-related safety will hold their first roundtable meeting on September 18-20, while the regional cybercrime, cyber security, and internet piracy workshop will take place on September 23-27, 2019.

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