The legal construction of geographical indications in Africa

Titilayo Adebola* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper discusses how African organisations and countries construct their geographical indication (GI) systems. It makes three primary arguments. First, that the nascent GI agenda in Africa is driven by the European Union (EU) to principally promote European interests. Nonetheless, African countries can benefit from GI regimes by crafting laws that promote African interests. Second, that simply embracing the introduction of GI laws will not result in the EU's promised socioeconomic development in Africa. This is because multifarious factors including infrastructure, investment, branding, marketing and security are required to realise successful GI regimes. Third, that African countries must leverage contextually customised GI regimes to maximise the potentials they present. Contextually customised GI regimes can engender socioeconomic development. Beyond the EU's agenda-setting technologies, international affiliations and treaty boundaries shape GI laws in Africa, which inform the marked variation in its GI systems. This variation reflects the dissonance in international treaties for GIs. While African countries align with demandeurs that espouse stronger GIs laws at the international level, the only regional instrument on GIs in Africa is its Continental Strategy for GIs. In examining examples from the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle, the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, this timely paper maintains that although GIs present promises of socioeconomic development, policymakers, lawmakers and relevant African stakeholders must caution against their often-overlooked pitfalls. As ultimately, it is the responsibility of Africans, not foreigners, to guarantee the generation of thriving GI ecosystems for African products.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-29
Number of pages27
JournalThe Journal of World Intellectual Property
Issue number1
Early online date12 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

I am indebted to Professor Abbe Brown, Professor James Gathii and Dr Bolanle Adebola, for their invaluablecomments on draft versions of this paper. I also appreciate the blind reviewer's brilliant comments, which helped toenrich the paper. I presented different draft versions of the paper at the African International Economic Law Network Conference (2019), the International Association for the Advancement of Teaching and Research inIntellectual Property Conference (2019) and Loyola University of Chicago School of Law (2019). I am grateful toparticipants for their generous comments. All errors remain my own.

Data Availability Statement

Data sharing not applicable to this article as no data sets were generated or analysed during the current study.


  • Africa
  • geographical indications
  • Kenya
  • Nigeria
  • OAPI
  • South Africa


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