Cyber & IP Africa


The Abuja-based ICHIP supports the capacity building needs of partner nations on the continent of Africa by assessing the capacity of law enforcement authorities to enforce IPR; developing and delivering capacity building assistance, primarily case-based mentoring and skills training designed to enhance the capacity of justice sector personnel to enforce IPR; assisting the creation or improvement of institutions dedicated to IPR enforcement; monitoring regional trends in IPR protection; and providing expert assistance in support of U.S. intellectual property (IP) policies and initiatives in the region.  The ICHIP also assists foreign partners with IPR-related legislative drafting and preparing country submissions for the U.S. Trade Representative’s annual Special 301 Report.  The ICHIP acts as a liaison between U.S. law enforcement partners in the region and rights-holders, whose support is critical for IPR investigations and prosecutions. ICHIP programs focus on encouraging interagency and regional cooperation in protecting intellectual property rights (IPR). 

ICHIP Abuja has placed particular emphasis on combating fraudulent medicines that threaten human health and safety, including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In addition to building legal and law enforcement capacity in this area, the ICHIP is raising awareness on the ills of counterfeit pharmaceuticals.  The ICHIP played an integral role in the U.S. Embassy Nigeria-produced movie Fishbone, which focuses on counterfeit medicine.  A French language version of the movie has also been made to facilitate broader distribution on the continent of Africa by the ICHIP and the Department of State.

To improve IPR enforcement efforts, including quality of intellectual property (IP) seizures and prosecutions with regards to infringing goods, especially those involving counterfeit pharmaceuticals, ICHIP Abuja set up two Pharmacrime working groups, an Anglophone group comprised of 30 members from 14 Anglophone countries (Botswana, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia) and the other made up of seven members from seven Francophone countries (Benin, Burundi, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Senegal, and Togo).  These two groups have now been merged into one comprised of 26 members from Botswana, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, Benin, Burundi, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. The ICHIP engages the group through virtual and in-person meetings to highlight enforcement best practices, support information sharing and cooperation among the members, and facilitate better communication between rights-holders and law enforcement in the region.

Since January 2021, the ICHIP has screened Fishbone in more than 20 African countries, provided guidance on new Gambian IP legislation, and continued to connect U.S. rights-holders to African government officials through the Pharmacrime Working Groups.

Cyber-Focused ICHIP

Upon deployment to the U.S. Mission to the African Union (AU) in December 2020, ICHIP Addis Ababa began building a cyber-focused regional program for Africa.  The ICHIP has initiated capacity building partnerships with key U.S. counterparts in the region, including the U.S. Mission to the AU, LEGATs, and other U.S. law enforcement officials on the African continent, all of whom have pledged assistance at future ICHIP programs.  ICHIP Addis Ababa has also coordinated with UNODC, the Council of Europe, and those in industry on future assistance initiatives.

With support from RLAs in the region, the ICHIP has also identified potential partners within law enforcement, the prosecution service, and the judiciary in several countries as well as at the African Union.  The ICHIP’s initial assistance activities in the region have concentrated on breaking down the technicalities in digital evidence and highlighting the unique skills needed to investigate cybercrime for law enforcement and the judiciary.  In June 2021, the AU showcased this new ICHIP program at its Cybercrime/Cybersecurity summit, emphasizing its capacity building opportunities for member countries.

IPR-Focused ICHIP Recent Activities

January 2023: ICHIP  Abuja met with the Office of the Nigerian Inspector General of Police to discuss the enforcement of intellectual property rights.

Cyber-Focused ICHIP Recent Activities

  • January 2023: ICHIP Addis Ababa delivered electronic evidence and international cooperation presentations at RTC-Accra at the request of DOJ anti-corruption trainers, for approximately 30 participants from Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, and Cape Verde.
  • January 2023: ICHIP Addis Ababa met online with the following organizations to plan training or discuss areas of assistance:
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, who are delivering the Digital Evidence Exploitation Specialist (DEES) conducting skills training in five African nations.
  • Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Kenya, to plan a train-the-trainers workshop for Kenyan prosecutors.
Updated March 3, 2023

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