The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande, has welcomed the signing into law of the Protection, Promotion, Development and Management of Indigenous Knowledge Bill.
President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law the IKS Bill on Tuesday, 13 August, paving the way for the protection of the vast treasure of South Africa’s indigenous knowledge and it recognises indigenous knowledge as intellectual property which must be protected.
“The Act protects the knowledge of indigenous communities from unauthorised use, misappropriation and misuse. It promotes public awareness and understanding of indigenous knowledge for wider application and development, enhance the potential of indigenous communities to protect their indigenous knowledge, and regulate the equitable distribution of benefits,” said Minister Nzimande.
Since Cabinet adopted the historic policy in 2004, an increasing number of government departments have now dedicated IKS-focused directorates and programmes in health, agriculture, rural development, environmental affairs, trade and industry, arts and culture, and traditional affairs.
“Through this policy, government sought to ensure that the benefits of cumulative innovation associated with Indigenous Knowledge accrue to its holders while enhancing socio-economic development of the country, said the Minister.
Minister Nzimande further said that in the South Africa context, particularly the fields of traditional medicines, technologies and cultural expressions, much evidence of misappropriation and exploitation has been taking place due to enormous economic benefits that comes with the previously unprotected Indegenous Knowledge innovations.
The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) will continue to work with various indigenous knowledge stakeholders in facilitating the development of a framework to recognise indigenous knowledge disciplines and to provide a competency-based accreditation and certification system to recognize these disciplines within the National Qualifications Framework prescripts.
The DSI is also in the process of finalising regulations that will be issued in terms of the Act.
Issued by the Department of Science and Innovation.