Why Kenyans are not patenting their works

Arnold Maina, Nathan Opurong and Emmanuel Sagini show a Setro Automated Trolley which enables a shopper to shop and make payment on the trolley avoiding queues at the cashier during The 9th JKUAT Tech Expo. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]
Innovations by savvy Kenyans, including university students, whittle out in short periods largely because of lack of government support.

Although Kenyans are highly innovative, thousands of these novelties are barely capable of withstanding test of time, according to an analyst.

Victor Mose, a policy analyst with the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, says poor commercialisation of these innovations arise from poor patenting of creative works, which in turn stems from a weak policy environment awareness.

“Kenya ranks 37 of 137 countries globally in innovation and sophistication, largely buoyed by huge leaps in ICT creations.

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“The problem is we are not protecting these innovations and therefore cannot go full scale commercial with them,” he says. Novelties such as the mobile money service M-Pesa, which has won accolades the world over, is among those helping lift Kenya’s standing in technological advancements.

Creative services

Others are applications which improve access to credit and health, innovation linkages and exports of creative services, such as research and development, workforce efficiency and printing. Mose says although there are at least six State agencies that should drum up policy awareness and nurture budding innovators, the bodies, including the Kenya Research Institute, National Innovation Agency, Kenya Industrial Property Institute, Brand Kenya and the Kenya Bureau of Standards have been lax in discharging their roles.

He says failure to respond to technological complexities is denying innovators the opportunity to grow and export services.

“The processes involved in patenting are also cumbersome and in some cases expensive. The result is that Kenyans in the diaspora are patenting their works in host countries more than Kenya is patenting home grown innovations,” he said.  

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