Botswana will have deposited the instrument of the Marrakesh Treaty accession by the time it celebrates its 50th Anniversary, Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Advocate Sadique Kebonang has promised.
Speaking during the official opening of the regional workshop on opportunities and challenges in the implementation of the Beijing and Marrakesh treaties, Kebonang said the treaty comes at a time when Botswana has taken a number of deliberate policy decisions to intergrate and provide for people living with disabilities. There has been an establishment of Coordinating Office for People with Disability (CPWD) in the Office of the President.
“The intention of placing this Unit at this level, is to develop and coordinate implementation of policies, strategies and programmes through mainstreaming them into the development agenda to empower people with disabilities,” said Kebonang. He said Marrakesh Treaty is a vehicle to facilitate more achievement in terms of addressing issues affecting people with disabilities.
The Beijing and Marrakesh treaties are the most recently adopted treaties in the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in 2012 and 2013. “The Beijing Treaty is on audio-visual performances whereas the Marrakesh Treaty is to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired and otherwise print disabled,” he said.
He expressed gratitude for the contribution and support that WIPO and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) continue to extend to Botswana in the development and growth of Botswana’s intellectual property system. He said the Marrakesh Treaty was an important tool that could assist governments in ensuring that fellow citizens living with blindness, visual impairment and print disabilities have equal and timeous access to information. “Access to information and knowledge is a fundamental right to all and as such the visually impaired should also enjoy this right,” he said, adding that this would help them deal with some of the social challenges they face.
Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) Copyright Administrator, Keitseng Monyatsi said the treaty would be of benefit to people with visual impairment or blindness as they are faced with challenges of delayed access to information due to the need to acquire authorisation to convert works into an accessible format. “Modern technologies allow for works to be converted speedily and at affordable costs, but the need for authorisation prohibits or delays entities serving beneficiary persons from converting and availing personal copies to them,” she said.