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EPA Summary Report Africa 2013

3 Executive summary Africa has a huge untapped potential for generating clean energy, including enough hydroelectric power from its seven major river systems to serve the whole of the continent’s needs, as well as enormous potential for solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy etc. Although major hurdles exist also in the distribution of energy there is potential for Africa to leapfrog existing fossil fuel energy sources and exploit clean energy from the outset to meet its developing needs. At the original UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, or the “Earth Summit”) in Rio de Janeiro, June 1992, intellectual property and patenting in particular was highlighted by some participants as a significant factor limiting the transfer of new clean technologies to developing countries, and identified as a barrier to these countries meeting new emission limits for CO2 and other Greenhouse Gases. The issue was also raised in the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012. The present study aims at providing facts and evidence to evaluate the actual situation concerning patenting of Clean Energy Technology (CET) in Africa. It builds on an earlier study in this field carried out jointly by the EPO, UNEP and the ICTSD using methodologies and tools developed1 . The actual patenting landscape of CET is analysed 1980 - 2009 in Africa and its sub-regions. The landscape is divided by technology area, and includes solar heat and PV, hydro-electric, wind and biofuels and other sources. Both Climate Change Mitigation Technology and Climate Change Adaptation Technology (CCMT/CCAT) are analysed. The origins of the patent applications are analysed, as well as the levels of co-patenting with and between African states. The “Patent Information” system, available worldwide via the internet and using dedicated tools such as the EPO’s free Espacenet database, has with the EPO’s specially developed Y02 classification scheme tagged and indexed some 1,5 million documents relevant to most climate change related technologies by end 2012. The Y02 scheme is fully incorporated within the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC). Together with the EPO’s “PATSTAT” patent data statistical tool, patent 1 “Patents and Clean Energy: Bridging the gap between evidence and policy”, EPO/UNEP/ICTSD 2010. information data relating to CETs and tagged with the Y02 scheme may be analysed and used to inform policy makers. The results show that less than 1% of all patent applications relating to CET have been filed in Africa. The results also show however that there is a relatively high level of inventive activity in Africa in the field of mitigation technologies. This activity is mostly focused on energy storage/hydrogen/fuel cell technologies (37 %) and renewable energy (25 %), in particular solar PV and solar thermal, followed by nuclear energy (20 %) and biomass/waste/combustion/CCS technologies (17 %), especially biofuels. While the global growth rate on overall inventive activity is 5%, in Africa the growth rate overall is 9% and is a staggering 59% for mitigation technologies. However, the overall African share of inventive activity in CCMT is still low at 0,24%, and 84% of this is in South Africa. In the field of adaptation technologies, the African share in worldwide inventive activity is very low (0,26%), but the level of patent protection sought in African countries is increasing rapidly at an average of 17% p.a. over this period. CCMT in particular is developed through international research collaboration; 23% for African CCMT, compared to 12% worldwide. While there is little intra-African co-invention, Africa’s most frequent partners are US, UK, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, France and Canada. Overall, inventive activity and patenting is dominated by South Africa, which appears to play a leading role in in co-invention, and in technology transfer of CCMT to Africa. Although many relevant clean energy technologies already exist, they are not yet widely available in Africa for a range of reasons, including high costs. The development of the Technology Mechanism by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has focused attention on technology transfer as the key to approaching CETs in the climate change debate. Various countries have also developed science and technology (S&T) or science, technology and innovation (STI) policies, as well as national programmes or white papers, which all place considerable emphasis on the transfer and diffusion of technology and explicitly include the energy sector.