In October 2016, the ASK Justice project kicked off its inaugural Fellowship Program aimed at training the next generation of intellectual property (IP) scholars in Africa and sensitising them on the interlinkages between IP law and policy making and human rights issues. Three project Fellows -Ronald Kamya Nsobya, Victor B. Nzomo and Catherine Waithira Karanja – residing in three out of the four study countries (Kenya, Uganda and South Africa) were selected to work closely with network members at the Intellectual Property (IP) Unit within the Law Faculty’s Department of Commercial Law at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa for one month. The Fellows’ biographies are summarised at the end of this article. The Fellows received a warm welcome from the ASK Justice Project team at the UCT IP Unit, including Dr. Tobias Schonwetter, IP Unit Director and Co-Principal Investigator for ASK Justice and Nan Warner, the ASK Justice Project Manager. According to Dr. Schonwetter, the Fellowship Program takes place at a crucial phase of the project where members are finalising their draft research findings on their country case studies concerning the extent to which human rights are considered in IP law and policy making processes in Botswana, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. Theses research results are key for the project’s other main activities, namely the development of teaching resources and the project’s various outreach activities (“Public Voice”). While all Fellows are encouraged to work in areas of the project that they are most passionate about, the IP Unit will put emphasis on skilling up the Fellow’s social media skills in the upcoming weeks. For this reason, the IP Unit has already organised an in-depth training session on internet and social media to take place during the course of the Fellowship. The use of the Internet and social media is an integral part of the “Public Voice” component of the Project which aims to empower members of the ASK justice network to become advocates for positive policy change that improves access to knowledge and medicines on the continent. All ASK Justice Fellows have expressed their deep gratitude for the opportunity to interact with leading researchers and scholars with vast experience on issues of intellectual property and human rights on the African continent. According to one fellow: “The Fellowship Program also provides us an opportunity for training and mentorship, which will no doubt have an enormous impact on our future careers”.
Ronald Kamya Nsobya holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Law (LLB) from Makerere University, Kampala-Uganda, a Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre in Kampala, Uganda and a Masters in Intellectual Property from Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe. He has previously worked as the personal research assistant to the former Attorney General of Uganda Prof. Edward Khiddu Makubuya, a Legal Assistant at Geoffrey Nangumya & Co Advocates in Old Kampala, a Legal Associate and head of the Intellectual Property department at F.X.Ogwado & Co. Advocates in Wandegeya, Kampala, Uganda, and Assistant Secretary (Legal) at Nkumba University in Uganda. He is currently a Magistrate in the Uganda courts of judicature.
Victor B. Nzomo is a trained Kenyan lawyer turned research academic with a passion for intellectual property (IP). He works as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) at Strathmore University Law School (SLS) where he is involved primarily with the Open African Innovation Research (Open AIR) Project and Creative Commons Kenya Public Lead. He is an Affiliate Faculty at HarvardX teaching the CopyrightX course in Nairobi, and he also assists in teaching of IP Law and Competition Law at SLS. Aside from academic work, he coordinates CIPIT’s active online presence on facebook and twitter. Victor is the Founding Editor and Lead Blogger for the CIPIT Law Blog which received the Best Education Blog Award at the 2015 Kenya Blog Awards. In his spare time, he runs the IP Kenya Blog which was recognised among the Managing IP Magazine Top 50 Most Influential People in IP Worldwide in 2014. Victor is a competitive scrabble, table tennis and basketball player and he enjoys photography.
Catherine Waithira Karanja is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and a Certified Public Secretary in Kenya and also an intellectual property rights enthusiast. She obtained her Bachelor of Laws degree at Moi University School of Law and a post graduate diploma from the Kenya School of Law. Catherine has worked as a lawyer at Kale Maina and Bundotich Advocate. Currently, she is an LL.M. student specialising in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Cape Town.