ESP Wiki is looking for moderators and active contributors!

Harare Protocol

The Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs is an international treaty signed by all members of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (with the exception of Somalia) and Seychelles. It provides that the ARIPO is empowered to grant patents on behalf of the contracting states via a designation-based system.[1] Contracting states have the power to refuse patents granted by the ARIPO in their individual territory.[2]

All contracting states are allowed to have their own legislations on patents that coexist with the Harare Protocol.

Software patents

The Protocol has a section on patentable subject-matter that mentions computer programs. According to Section 3(10)(h) and (i):

(10) (a) ARIPO patents shall be granted for any inventions, in all fields of technology, provided that they are new, involve an inventive step and are susceptible of industrial application.

(h) The following in particular shall not be regarded as inventions within the meaning of paragraph 10(a):
(i) discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;
(ii) aesthetic creations;
(iii) schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers;
(iv) presentations of information.
(i) Paragraph (h) above shall exclude the patentability of the subject-matter or activities referred to therein only to the extent to which an ARIPO patent application or ARIPO patent relates to such subject-matter or activities as such.

The use of as such allows the ARIPO to grant software patents, interpreting it as nullifying the exclusion.

Contracting states

State Date of accession ARIPO member
Botswana 1985-05-06 Yes
Eswatini 1988-03-17 Yes
Gambia 1986-01-16 Yes
Ghana 1984-04-25 Yes
Kenya 1984-10-24 Yes
Lesotho 1987-10-23 Yes
Liberia 2010-03-24 Yes
Malawi 1984-04-25 Yes
Mozambique 2000-05-08 Yes
Namibia 2004-04-23 Yes
Rwanda 2011-09-24 Yes
São Tomé & Príncipe 2014-08-19 Yes
Seychelles 2022-01-01 No
Sierra Leone 1999-02-25 Yes
Sudan 1984-04-25 Yes
Tanzania 1999-09-01 Yes
Uganda 1984-04-25 Yes
Zambia 1986-02-26 Yes
Zimbabwe 1984-04-25 Yes


  1. Harare Protocol, Section 1(1), Section 1bis(1).
  2. Harare Protocol, Section 3(6)(b).

External links