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EPA Summary Report Africa 2013

4 Patents have an important role to play in technology transfer. As the previous report on patenting and climate change mitigation technology from EPO, UNEP and ICTSD showed, the main factors impeding technology transfer are access to the real know-how from the source companies (including access to trade secrets), access to suitably skilled staff, scientific infrastructure, and favourable market conditions. The patent system can therefore support technology transfer as without patents to protect their products and processes, the source companies may be reluctant to engage in technology transfer and associated investments. All African states except Somalia now have a patent system, and all states except for Somalia and Eritrea comply or will eventually be obliged to comply to the requirements of the TRIPS agreement as members of the WTO. This report helps to understand how the global and African patent systems can best be used and further developed to support and facilitate the technology transfer of CETs in Africa. To foster innovation and growth, one of the big challenges for all patent offices across the world, including African states, is to establish or maintain a high quality patent system to discourage low quality patents, ensuring that exclusive rights for CET are only granted for valid technical inventions. As an example, only approximately 50% of patent applications lead to a grant at the EPO, and the scope of protection of those granted is mostly reduced during the examination process. High quality patents offering maximum legal security, and protecting the interests of both inventors and the public, are the cornerstone of a properly functioning patent system. They provide the optimum balance between private and public interests, disseminating technical information widely, while limiting granted exclusive rights to valid inventions. The patent system makes a wealth of technical information readily available worldwide, free of charge via the internet. With less than 1% of patent applications relating to clean energy technology filed in Africa, patent rights are unlikely to be a major consideration in any decision to exploit CETs in the region. Longer term, all countries should investigate the possibilities around the development of a high quality patent system and facilitate effective cross-patenting to encourage both co-invention activities as well as technology transfer of more recent CET developments. The relationship between the patent system and successful technology transfer to regions such as Africa also needs to be further researched to inform and guide future policies towards development of clean energy technology for future African needs and purposes. 4