International Women’s Day: Celebrating African Women Leaders in Intellectual Property

Angélique Kidjo won her 2nd Grammy Award in 2015. The world renowned Beninoise singer-songwriter is Vice President of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC). CISAC is the umbrella body for copyright societies worldwide.

Angélique Kidjo won her 2nd Grammy Award in 2015. The world renowned Beninoise singer-songwriter is Vice President of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC). CISAC is the umbrella body for copyright societies worldwide.

Celebrated globally on 8th March, this year’s International Women’s Day highlights the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that sets the agenda for realizing women’s rights. The official United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2015 is “Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Picture It!”

“When we unleash the power of women, we can secure the future for all” – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message for International Women’s Day 2015.

To mark this year’s International Women’s Day (#IWD2015), this blogger has compiled a list of some of the (influential) women (leaders) in intellectual property (IP) from Kenya and throughout English-speaking Africa. The women listed below (in no particular order) are primarily drawn from IP offices, academia, non-governmental organisations and the IP legal fraternity.

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Kenya Welcomes Conclusion of WIPO Beijing Treaty for Audiovisual Performers


Yesterday, in a historic Diplomatic Conference held in the Chinese capital Beijing, member states of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) adopted a new Treaty in the area of copyright and related rights.

As WIPO explains, this Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances (BTAP) will strengthen the economic rights of film actors and other performers and could provide extra income from their work. It will potentially enable performers to share proceeds with producers for revenues generated internationally by audiovisual productions. It will also grant performers moral rights to prevent lack of attribution or distortion of their performances. Importantly, the new treaty will strengthen the precarious position of performers in the audiovisual industry by providing a clearer international legal framework for their protection. For the first time it will provide performers with protection in the digital environment. The treaty will also contribute to safeguarding the rights of performers against the unauthorized use of their performances in audiovisual media, such as television, film and video.



You will notice in the youtube clip above that Dr. Marisella Ouma, CEO of Kenya Copyright Board, who represented the Kenya delegation in Beijing, shares her thoughts on the conclusion of BTAP and states that:

“This diplomatic conference has been a major breakthrough for the copyright industries especially in relation to audio visual works. It is also a milestone in relation to WIPO in regard to its norm-setting activities considering that the last treaty was done 16 years ago. And it actually gives us hope in relation to the norm-setting activities more so in relation to issues such as broadcasting as well as the issues of exceptions and limitations and any other international issues that might arise in this multi-cultural and borderless society.”


The adopted text of Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances in all official WIPO languages is available here.


Meanwhile, back in Nairobi, IPKenya caught up with Mrs. Angela Ndambuki, the General Manager of the Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK) and sought her thoughts on the recently adopted Beijing Treaty.

This is what she had to say:

“The Beijing Treaty is welcomed with much anticipation and the Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK) in particular is pleased to have the International protection for audiovisual performers. The treaty provides for both moral rights; rights to be identified as the performer and prevent distortion of the performance and economic rights such as broadcasting and communication to the public which PRISK is mandated to administer.

It is now more than ever that Kenya needs to step up in terms of having presence in the audiovisual international scene to be able to benefit from the protection. At the moment we find that Nigerian movies are mostly shown hence now Policies touching on Audiovisual works and local/ Kenyan content should be lobbied and enforced to include a reasonable minimum percentage to enable our local performers to benefit.

Meanwhile the amendment proposals to the Kenya Copyright Act are in line with the Beijing Treaty. The provision of equitable remuneration not only touches on use of sound recordings but also for audiovisual works. This is good news to actors and other performers taking part in audiovisual works as it means that now they can enjoy additional remuneration for the use of their fixed performances for a period of 50 years after publication of the works.

It is my understanding that Kenya intends to ratify the Beijing Treaty. We now wait for the assent of the amendments to the Copyright Act and put proper structures in place to administer these rights. PRISK is determined to ensure that there is proper administration of these rights. We shall work with the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) to raise awareness on these rights and also with other stakeholders such as the Kenya Film Commission to ensure policies are in line with the minimum standards provided in the Treaty.”

Women Leaders of Copyright in Kenya

As a newcomer on the intellectual property scene in Kenya, I’ve noticed one distinctive feature about the administration of copyright and related rights: it’s entirely dominated by women!

These women are not only legal professionals but they are also multi-talented and fully committed to what they do. Allow me to (re)introduce them to you and share my observations about them:

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