Africa

SouthViews No. 263, 1 May 2024

The Protection of Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions, Expressions of Folklore and Genetic Resources Within the African Continental Free Trade Area – Alignment with International and Regional Developments  

By Caroline B. Ncube

The adoption of the Protocol on Intellectual Property Rights under the Agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area presents an opportune moment to consider a continental framework for the protection of Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions, Expressions of Folklore and Genetic Resources. This SouthViews considers lessons which can be drawn from national laws, using South Africa as an example, for the relevant Annex to be negotiated under the protocol.

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Research Paper 190, 24 January 2024

Implementing the Doha Declaration in OAPI Legislation: Do Transition Periods Matter?

By Patrick Juvet Lowé Gnintedem

The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) provided for a number of transition periods allowing countries to engage in a phased implementation of their TRIPS obligations. More specifically, transition periods targeted the patenting of pharmaceutical products. The original deadlines for transition periods have expired for developed and developing country WTO members. However, based on the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health and subsequent TRIPS Council decisions, least developed countries (LDCs) continue to benefit from extended transition periods. In the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), after an amendment in 1999, the legal framework has evolved with the amendment of the Bangui Agreement, i.e., the Act of Bamako of 14 December 2015. As for the previous text, the newly amended Bangui Agreement consecrates the unification on industrial property amongst its seventeen Member States. The main objective of such an amendment remains to adapt its legal framework to the international environment and to the economic and social development needs of Member States. Yet only five OAPI Member States are developing countries; the twelve others are LDCs. Then the question arises: do transition periods consecrated pursuant to the Doha Declaration still matter for LDCs who have agreed to be subjected to the OAPI legislation? This paper points out that transition periods remain relevant in OAPI countries by application of the more favorable rule between the Bangui Agreement and the WTO TRIPS Council decisions. It is however noted that the OAPI current legal framework is still problematic, while its LDCs members are underutilizing this flexibility.

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SouthViews No. 250, 10 August 2023

COVID-19, Future Pandemics and the Africa Care Economy Index

By Salimah Valiani

In Africa, the care economy has long been unrecognised. At least since the last major pandemic in Africa, HIV-AIDS, caring work has been severely undervalued in the continent, and the redistribution of caring work, from females in the home and communities, is next to nonexistent. Undoing this structural inequality is crucial to improve health and wellbeing of girls and women in Africa, to be prepared for future pandemics, and to realise Africa’s demographic dividend for the benefit of the majority. To achieve this, the Africa Care Economy Index is offered as a policy, advocacy, and accountability tool.

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Climate Finance Readiness E-book, July 2023

Climate Finance Readiness E-book

July 2023

The global landscape of climate finance is highly fragmented and complex, involving multiple pathways, actors, institutions, and instruments. Funds provided by developed countries to developing countries for climate adaptation and mitigation actions are channelled through various multilateral funds – both within and outside the scope of the operating entities of the UNFCCC’s financial mechanism.

Developing countries indisputably need climate finance to flow at a sufficient scale and in a timely manner. While the options and possibilities for countries to access climate finance are expected to increase, with a multitude of funding channels, this can also make the process even more complicated and confusing. Which funds to turn to? For which activities? At what costs? These are a few of the many questions that climate change decision-makers must contend with. Each fund is administered with complicated rules and procedures, which makes it very challenging for developing countries to navigate when seeking to fund their domestic climate actions. There is currently no ‘one-stop-shop’ to provide useful and quick answers.

The Climate Finance Readiness E-book is a series of short briefs prepared by the South Centre to provide developing countries with a «help desk» to access and more effectively and efficiently utilise the complex web of climate finance information available to them. This brief will be updated periodically and will shine a spotlight on different geographical areas. The South Centre welcomes questions, comments, and suggestions for this series of briefs to continuously improve its help desk function on Climate finance.

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SouthViews No. 249, 30 June 2023

Implementing wealth tax and wealth redistribution in Sub-Saharan Africa

By Khanyisa Mbalati

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most unequal places in the world, with significant levels of social, gender, and income inequality. Several countries in the region have a tax structure that is heavily weighted towards consumption taxes, which can be regressive and inflict a significant burden on those with low and middle incomes. Implementing progressive tax systems, whereby those with higher earnings pay a larger share in taxes, is one way through which governments might optimize the impact of tax revenue on reducing inequality. The adoption of a wealth tax may facilitate wealth redistribution in Sub-Saharan African nations and could help bridge the inequality gap in the region. High statutory wealth tax rates of between 5-8% are needed in order to have an effective tax rate of 3-5%.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 33, 26 June 2023

 Taxation of Digital Services: what hope for the African States?

By ADJEYI Kodzo Senyo, KOUEVI Tsotso and AMAGLO Kokou Essegbe 

Globalization makes it necessary to adapt multinational taxation by taking into account the place of use or consumption of goods and services. “Pillar 1” of the OECD aims to allow States in which multinationals market products or services, or collect data and content from users, to benefit from a portion of their residual consolidated worldwide profit. Since residual profit is a function of the turnover and profit achieved in the jurisdiction, this solution can only be an advantage if, beyond the rules of fair taxation, efforts are made to promote the use of digital services. Internet access is one of the levers that can increase the consumption of digital services. The current situation in Africa according to statistics published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) shows low rates of internet access compared to other continents.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 32, 30 May 2023

Global Minimum Taxation of Multinationals: Opportunities and risks for some African States

By AMAGLO Kokou Essegbe, KOUEVI Tsotso and ADJEYI Kodzo Senyo

To face the challenges posed by the digitization of the economy, the OECD’s Inclusive Framework has developed two Pillars to address tax base erosion and profit shifting. The objective of Pillar Two is to define the minimum amount of tax to be paid by multinational enterprises in the jurisdictions where they operate. The OECD’s Inclusive Framework has adopted an average effective rate of 15% for this purpose. The objective of this study is to show whether the implementation of Pillar Two in African jurisdictions constitutes an opportunity or a risk for them.

The results show that it is an opportunity for countries with a low effective tax rate and a risk for countries with a high effective tax rate. Therefore, setting a 15% income tax rate for non-resident multinationals is an opportunity for some African countries. For it would constitute for these countries a source of additional tax revenue mobilization. For this reform to be an opportunity for Africa, however, the minimum effective tax rate must be raised to at least 20%, as was demanded by the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF).

The risk that lies in the application of an effective rate of 15% for Africa as a whole is that some African countries might have to reduce their effective tax rate. This would be a loss of revenue for those African countries. Since most countries in the African jurisdiction have effective tax rates and statutory corporate income tax rates that are more than 20 percent, above the set average effective rate, multinationals would seek to shift their profits to the countries with the most advantageous taxation. This could lead to a transfer of profits to other jurisdictions.

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Research Paper 178, 22 May 2023

A Response to COVID-19 and Beyond: Expanding African Capacity in Vaccine Production

By Carlos M. Correa

The unequal global distribution of vaccines against the deadly COVID-19 virus has cast a spotlight on the lack of access to vaccines on the African continent, and the vulnerability that such a lack places on both the economies of African nations and the health of their people. Various initiatives have been launched to overcome the dependence of African nations on vaccines produced elsewhere. If implemented in timely and effective ways, those initiatives will contribute to the diversification of African economies and strengthen the capacity of nations on the continent to address their public health needs during pandemics and at other times. While establishing a viable vaccine industry on the continent presents serious challenges, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) can provide the framework for leveraging economies of scale to stimulate the production of needed vaccines across the region.

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SouthViews No. 246, 5 April 2023

Preserving Regulatory Space for Sustainable Development in Africa

By Roslyn Ng’eno

Investment has an important role for achieving sustainable development in developing countries. Although international investment agreements (IIAs) can serve as instruments to promote such objective, protection oriented IIAs have undermined the ability of States to regulate in the benefit of the community. Likewise large financial reparations imposed by arbitral tribunals have increased the threat of regulatory chill in the face of major global challenges. Strengthening the right to regulate of States and addressing regulatory chill are key matters to consider in the reform of IIAs and the international investment regime. 

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 29, 3 March 2023

Digital taxation under the OECD Amount A and UN Article 12B mechanisms for market jurisdictions in Africa: a comparative analysis

 By Erica Rakotonirina

This Policy Brief examines the need for the evolution and harmonization of international taxation in the face of the digitalization of economic transactions.

Between the OECD proposal for shared taxation of residual profits through the Amount A mechanism and the UN proposal of Article 12B for taxing income from Automated Digital Services on a gross basis through shared but capped taxation, with an optional variant of the taxation of net profits, African States need to make vital political and technical choices.

The strategic negotiations must include regulatory sustainability, the right balance and fiscal fairness between the divergent interests of residence states vs source states (which include almost all African countries), and MNEs in their quest for profit and expansion.

The Policy Brief carries out quantified evaluation of possible revenue estimates using a case study approach. However, such an exercise remains difficult for questions of accessibility and reliability of data relating to the activities of multinational companies.

To be realistic, the scope of the study was restricted to a reference company in the digital sector but targeted economies of different scales. The results of the revenue estimates represent an optimistic case of the impacts on tax revenues of the application of the OECD and UN measures on different types of economies.

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SC Joint Publication – The Right to Seeds in Africa, February 2023

The Right to Seeds in Africa

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas and the Right to Seeds in Africa

Geneva Academy Briefing No. 22

By Karine Peschard, Christophe Golay and Lulbahri Araya

Pursuant to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), the African Union and African states should ensure that their regional & national laws & policies, as well as international bodies to which they are party, lead to effective protection of peasant rights, including their right to seeds.

The Geneva Academy acknowledges the support of the South Centre for the production of this publication.

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SC Report on Copyright Week in South Africa, 23-27 January 2023

South Centre Supports Debates on Developments in Copyright Law and Access to Knowledge in Africa

By Vitor Ido

A conference “A Right to Research in Africa? A Week of Debates on Copyright and Access to Knowledge” took place on 23-27 January 2023 at the University of Pretoria and the University of Cape Town, South Africa. The gathering of scholars, artists, librarians, researchers and government officials had the objective to discuss the evolution of copyright law and the role of limitations and exceptions (L&Es) to advance research in Africa. The week of debates was co-organized by the South Centre, ReCreate South Africa, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) – American University Washington College of Law, Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL), the University of Pretoria – Future Africa, the University of Cape Town – IP Unit, the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) – Strathmore University, Wikimedia Foundation and Masakhane.

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