The plights of African resource patenting through the lenses of the World Trade Organization: an assessment of South Africa's rooibos tea's labyrinth journey

03 August 2016

Background Just as developing states are blessed with natural resources capable of transforming their economies into a positive direction, the imposed World Trade Organisation's (WTO) mores continue to relegate them to the status of underdevelopment. The consequences of this on investment, trade and finance in Third World States (TWSs), especially Africa, are disarticulation of the economy, exploitation, disinvestment, unemployment, political instability and unavailability of relevant technology to move TWSs forward, among others. This gives rise to the politics behind Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) patenting (a medicinal plant found only in South Africa) by various multinational corporations (MNCs). Materials and methods This study adopted political economy approach with emphasis on both primary and secondary sources of data collection using content analysis. Result There is need to adhere strictly to the issues of intellectual property rights (IPRs), geographical indications (GIs), prior informed consent (PIC), and access and sharing benefits (ASB). These have not been observed by the western states because of their economic of neo-imperialism to the disadvantage of developing states. Conclusion This paper recommends that there is need for a regional regime such as African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO), on indigenous knowledge (IK) to patent the continental biodiversity resources.