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The Plights of African Resources Patenting through the Lenses of the World Trade Organisation: An Assessment of South Africa’s Rooibos Tea’s Labyrith Journey

L Amusan


Background: Just as developing states are blessed with natural resources capable of transforming their economies into a positive direction, the
imposed World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) mores continue to relegate them to status of underdevelopment. The consequences of this on
investment, trade and finance in Third World States (TWSs), especially Africa, are disarticulation of the economy, exploitation, disinvestment,
unemployment, political instability and unavailability of relevant technology to move TWSs forward, among others. This gives rise to the politics
behind Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) patenting (a medicinal plant found only in South Africa) by various multinational corporations (MNCs).
Materials and methods: This study adopted political economy approach with emphasis on both primary and secondary sources of data collection
using content analysis.
Result: There is need to adhere strictly to the issues of intellectual property rights (IPRs), geographical indications (GIs), prior informed  consent (PIC), and access and sharing benefits (ASB). These have not been observed by the western states because of their economic of  neo-imperialism to the disadvantage of developing states.
Conclusion: This paper recommends that there is need for a regional regime such as African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO), on indigenous knowledge (IK) to patent the continental  biodiversity resources.

Key words: WTO, IP, PIC, GI; Biopiracy, Rooibos.

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eISSN: 0189-6016