World IP Day is commemorated on 26 April each year. It was established in 2000 by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in order to highlight the role that intellectual property plays in fostering creativity and innovation. The theme this year is IP and Youth: Innovating For a Better Future. The object of the theme is to highlight the manner in which youth can utilize their ingenuity and inventiveness to drive positive change by tackling global challenges and fostering development in their communities and nations.

Section 20 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.20) Act, 2013, defines youths as people between the ages of 15-35. According to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission OHCHR study on youth and human rights, the youth constitute the largest cross section of the population in Zimbabwe at 67.7%. Resultantly, in shaping the IP landscape in Zimbabwe, it is imperative that youths are placed at the forefront of innovation in order to create a better future in Zimbabwe.

An understanding of intellectual property is an important skill set in today’s knowledge based economy. In the past, agriculture and manufacturing were the engines of growth. Now, individuals and companies develop and trade in knowledge, information and ideas. Knowledge is the future source of prosperity. More and more young persons and professionals in Zimbabwe are involved in knowledge and information based professions and it is important that they are sensitized about the importance of intellectual property and its protection.

In June 2018, the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs launched the Zimbabwe Intellectual Property Policy and Implementation Strategy [2018-2022] (“the Policy”) The Policy acknowledged the salient role that intellectual property plays in economic, social and cultural development. The vision of the policy is “to transform Zimbabwe from a resource based economy to a knowledge based economy that can leverage the intellectual property regime for development”. If given access to resources, guidance and opportunities, youths are well positioned to be drivers of the agenda tabled by the Ministry.

There are various types of intellectual property rights that can be used by the youth to drive innovation and the steady migration transitioning Zimbabwe to a knowledge based economy that is competitive on the global market. These rights include trademarks, patents, trade secrets, industrial designs, copyright and plant breeder’s rights.

Zimbabwe has made great strides towards modernization of our communities, industry and Government. Intellectual Property is central in safeguarding these innovations and forms of intangible property. It is up to the youth, bolstered by support from various stakeholders, to play a pivotal role in seeking ways to further develop the nation and improve the livelihoods of the populace. The task that young people have to transform the nation cannot be overemphasized. It is against this background that World IP Day 2022 recognizes these efforts and celebrates young innovators.