Between the 17th to the 22nd of July, Nairobi hosted the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Alongside the members of the organisation, the current United Nations secretary general Mr. Ban-Ki-Moon, business leaders, investors and CEOs also attended the conference. UNCTAD works at national, regional, and global levels alongside other United Nations departments and agencies to track the progress being made towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (as set out in Agenda 2030).
The organisation has certain goals that they strive to achieve within underdeveloped countries. These goals include: diversifying economies to make them less dependent on commodities; limiting their exposure to financial debt; attracting investment and investors by making the country development friendly; increasing access (for citizens) to digital technologies; promoting entrepreneurship and innovation; helping local firms move up value chains; speeding up the flow of goods across borders; adaptation to climate change and use of natural resources for an effective, clean, efficient outcome.
The global economy is generally supposed to be value in open borders and (free) exchange of information and ideas there is; instead it has become one of growing inequality and weak productivity. Developing countries aside, leaks in developed countries (such as that with the Panama papers) creates a distrust in the political and economic systems as the weaknesses (such as illicit flows and hidden transactions) in international trade and investments are brought to light.
But what does the global economy, the conference as well as the 2030 agenda mean for Intellectual Property Rights? Issues relating to IP law such as trade, commodities, global investment and development are on the UNCTAD 14 agenda. In this regard a developing country such as Kenya would benefit greatly, economically and technologically, if the organisation is to meet their agenda. Although Kenya has grown in the ICT sector there is room for even greater improvement in increasing access (as the agenda sets out to do) for Kenyan citizens to these technological advancements. IP rights and law in Kenya – in turn – will strengthen, grow and be more familiar in Kenya as a result of these advancements.
It is evident that the 14th UNCTAD conference is vital because it will determine the way in which the 2030 agenda will move – either forward, backward or remain stagnant. As to whether or not they will succeed is yet to be seen.