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This report is based on desk research conducted from June 2021 to May 2022 by way of a survey of publicly available information on Reproduction Rights Organisations (RROs) in all 55 African Union (AU) member states. It is the first of a two-part study. The second part of the study will be conducted as empirical research where data will be obtained from relevant stakeholders in the collective management systems of African countries to address key issues flagged in this report as requiring further evidence.

This report examines the current status of RROs in Africa to help inform policy and legislative efforts in support of education, research and access to knowledge. The evidence is gathered on the basis of key criteria drawn from the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Good Practice Toolkit for Collective Management Organisations (CMO) 2021 (WIPO Toolkit). The WIPO Toolkit contains eighty-five (85) good practices to help ensure accountability, transparency, good governance, and effective financial management of RROs. The 85 good practices are clustered into thirteen (13) broad categories of key issues relating to collective management of copyright. The examples of good practice are distilled from laws, regulations, and codes of conducts relating to CMOs from WIPO member states, and regional and international organisations. Although the examples of good practice are formulated in the form of model codes of conducts, they can also be used as criteria for assessing the effectiveness of RROs. In particular, this report focuses on the practice of RROs relating to membership, openness in operation, reciprocal representation agreements (RRA), governance, finances, data management, dispute resolution mechanisms, and supervision of RROs.

Of the fifty-five (55) countries surveyed, nineteen (19) (making up 34.5%) have not established collective management of copyright. Thirty-six (36) countries, making up 65.5%, have established collective management of copyright. Of the 36 countries, twenty-eight (28) have organisations that perform the functions of RROs either as general purpose CMOs or as specific RROs. The countries are Algeria, Benin Republic, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Malawi, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. The organisations in the other eight (8) countries do not perform the function of RROs. In order to keep the research manageable and focused, the findings discussed in the report focus on the 28 countries. However, as discussed further in the report, the RROs in many of the 28 countries, such Zimbabwe, and Nigeria, have been inactive in some or most of the practices, such as collection and distribution of royalties, covered in this report. In a way, collective management of copyright in such countries is as inactive as is the case in the 19 countries without CMOs.

Save for a few countries, notably, Botswana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Senegal, and South Africa, RROs the study reveals that RROs across Africa remain weak in all areas of the WIPO’s Toolkit best practices. As an indicator of a functional and relatively better run RROs, in the above countries, annual meetings (AGMs) are held frequently to give members opportunities to understand the health of the organisations. There is some form of cooperation, through reciprocal representation agreements (RRAs), among RROs in Africa, and between them and RROs outside the continent, in the area of royalty collection and distribution. However, without an effective international copyright limitation and exception system, such cooperation has the potential to hinder cross-border non-commercial uses of copyright works. The study also shows the existence of government supervisory mechanisms for RROs in the countries surveyed. Nonetheless, the overall findings point to a relative lack of openness and data management systems. There is also largely infrequent royalty collection and distribution by the RROs. Indeed, the majority of the RROs are not doing well in the area of royalty collection and distribution locally. RROs in countries, such as Liberia, Gambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Madagascar, among others, did not show evidence of royalty distribution and collection. Finally, there is absence of a regional normative framework or guideline or code of conduct regime to support the practice of RROs in Africa.