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OECD Finds Strong Invention and Patent Bias Towards Mitigation Technologies in Africa

OECD16 November 2012: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has release a new working paper, titled "Climate Mitigation and Adaptation in Africa: Evidence from Patent Data," which analyzes data on innovative activity in and patenting of selected climate change mitigation and adaptation technologies in Africa.

The paper, authored by Ivan Haščič, Jérôme Silva and Nick Johnstone, finds that inventive activity is disproportionally directed towards mitigation technologies. The paper highlights that inventive mitigation activities are particularly high for biofuel, marine and tidal energy, waste-to-energy and solar thermal energy technologies. For adaptation technologies, most efforts are directed towards water desalination and energy supply in remote locations. In both mitigation and adaptation technologies, South Africa is the most important inventor country.

The report further finds that for both mitigation and adaptation technologies only 1% of worldwide patents are registered with African offices, which the report argues provides evidence that intellectual property is not a barrier to technology transfer and diffusion. The report also highlights a high propensity to protect mitigation technologies relative to other technologies in Africa. For mitigation, the report finds that biofuel, nuclear energy, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and marine and tidal energy technologies are most frequently patented, while water desalination is the adaptation technology that is most frequently protected in Africa. The report also finds that solar photovoltaics and solar cooking, efficient lighting for remote locations, and solar or wind-powered water pumping are less frequently patented in Africa than expected.

Finally, the report notes that the rate of co-invention for most mitigation and adaptation technologies is much higher in Africa than in the rest of the world. Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Kenya and Mali are the countries most likely to co-invent, while most partner countries are non-African. [OECD Press Release] [Publication: Climate Mitigation and Adaptation in Africa: Evidence from Patent Data]