In a first-ever INTA visit to Kigali, Rwanda, INTA Representative for Africa and the Middle East Tat Louembe met with Mr. Richard Kayibanda, Registrar General, and Mr. Blaise Ruhima, Manager, IP Division of the Rwanda Intellectual Property Office. They discussed ways in which INTA can partner with the IPO in increasing protection for trademarks and related rights and how the organizations can mutually cooperate, which in turn will expand INTA’s presence in Rwanda.
According to the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, Rwanda’s implementation of drastic economic and regulatory reforms has made it easier for businesses to get credit, pay taxes, start a business, and attract foreign investments. Rwanda’s long-term development goals are defined in “Vision 2020,” a strategy that seeks to transform the country from a low-income, agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based, service-oriented economy with middle-income country status by 2020. In this ambitious national economic strategy, trademarks and IP are a critical factor for the country to achieve its laudable goal of middle income status.
From the key role of trademarks in achieving economic growth to the tremendous efforts of the government of Rwanda to embrace innovation and change, the officials were eager to discuss with Mr. Louembe INTA’s contribution to capacity-building opportunities, the upcoming INTA Annual Meeting in Seattle, and INTA’s growing activities in Africa and beyond. The meeting was also an opportunity for INTA to get a better a grasp of the IP landscape in Rwanda as well as the IP Office’s activities and key role within the Rwandan Development Board (RDB), the mission of which is to fast-track economic development in Rwanda by enabling private sector growth.
With the assistance of the IP Office, Mr. Louembe also met with several stakeholders, including the Revenues Authority (Enforcement Division), the Rwanda Bar Association, and several individual IP practitioners, as well as with officials at the Kigali Special Economic Zones.