Looking to invest in Africa’s most populous nation? Don’t Forget the IP!

NIGERIA ratified in 2019 what is considered to be one of the biggest free trade agreements ever, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).  The agreement has been ratified by more than 50 countries on the continent, the aim of which is to encourage trade relations. The Agreement facilitates reductions in duty and exchange rate tariffs; creating new markets for goods and creating free movement between the ratifying states, thus creating a single transportation market.

The aim of the agreement is also to attract foreign investment, enabling investors to access markets beyond Nigeria and to export to other members of the AfCFTA.

One of the concerns of NIGERIA prior to ratification was the protection of the intellectual property vesting in Nigeria’s famous and massive Nollywood film industry.  It was, accordingly, vital to ensure that the Nigerians would continue to benefit from the means of production.

NIGERIA is also a member of ECOWAS, which is a regional economic community of some 15 West African States.  Some of these states, such as Benin, Mali, Niger, Senegal and others already use the CFA franc as a shared currency.  The intention is to adopt a single currency, the ECO,  which will also have what is expected to be a positive impact on trade by alleviating the loss due to fluctuating exchange rates.

According to the statistics of the Official Journal, dated 30 June 2020,  there is a surge in applications filed by local residents and the number of local applications in this Journal exceeds the number of applications filed by foreigners.

It is encouraging to see that brand owners are increasingly becoming aware of the importance to protect their brands.  NIGERIA is rightfully described as an economic giant on the continent and proprietors of marks which may have used their marks, or intend to use their marks in Nigeria and who may not yet have applied for registered protection, are urged to do so and to take advantage of our competitive rates.

Therése Davis
Senior Associate | Trade Mark Attorney
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