Namibians are least developed in the brain- WIPO

World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO) Elangi Botoy Ituku who also works at the United Nations (UN) has come out to say that when they define Namibia as one of the least developed countries, they refer to the intellectual capacity of the country’s people as least developed.

The same goes for other countries listed in this category, outside those considered developed, he said in his explanation. 

Ituku, who is a Congolese and had landed in the capital for a discussion on the usefulness of patent information for the promotion of innovation urged the country to educate its people as a tool for transformation.

Speaking yesterday at a Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA) and WIPO workshop, Ituku said, “I work for the United Nations, we own these words. When they say Namibia is least developed, we do not mean the country but we mean that the people are least developed in the brain.”

Ituku further urged Namibians to take center stage in the promotion of innovation to advance their own country and not having to let others do it for them.

“You have the mission to take your field forward. You have to have an efficient brain to think. We have to be bold and take private initiatives. We want others to run risks for us but we don’t want to take risks for others,” said Ituku in his passionate presentation.

As the world enters the Fourth Industrial Revolution driven in the main by technology and innovation, Ituku reminded innovators that any one in Namibia can use information published anywhere in the world to promote innovation from within the country.

Speaking to The Villager at the sidelines of the event, National University of Science and Technology’s (NUST) innovation director, Professor Pio Barone Lumaga, suggested that the theme of Intellectual Property has to under-line Namibia’s industrial vision 2030.

However, he lamented that research in the country was not being state-funded while institutions have not made decisive follow ups to localizing and utilising academic research.

“In Namibia, we do not produce enough Intellectual Property. So the problem is how we can seed the spreading of original Intellectual Property. Until now, most of our work is done by students which sometimes they do PhDs outside the country and their university takes this Intellectual Property even when it’s done by an African student. So we are trying to correct that one and the way to correct that is that we give more PhDs here in Namibia.”

“This is already happening. If you want a bed or a place where Intellectual Property can flourish, it’s to apply your research and that needs a tangible outcome. As soon as the tangible outcome is available for the society then we can protect that,” explained Professor Lumaga.

The professor said one way Namibia can protect these innovations should be to commercialise them with speed as well as creating patents. 

Ituku also took time to praise India’s innovation drive saying that it is now selling more than 70% of generic drugs on the global market.

However, chief executive officer of a rising start-up, Worldview Investments, Kaveto Tjatjara, said patenting is fast becoming challenged by the emergent integrated technologies. 

The start-up is currently working on green solutions to heal the sanitation headache of Namibia and the region through the use of water-less toilets. 

“When you think of the technology, I think you have to always think of a way to make it more acceptable for others. Patents in this day and age, it’s very rare for you to find anything that you can patent. Patents were really something like for the 80s and they really would protect you but with the digital era, where you can burn a CD, which is acceptable to many people, you just need to come up with a different model. Patents are really old school.” 

He added, “ I think patents kill innovation. That’s one of the arguments that have been taken. But also you can understand that you want to protect your idea. I am really caught in-between and I am moving away from just relying on patents,” said the innovator.