3D Printing and the Policy Implications
Some thoughts for the Policy Landscape on IP
By Prof Berhanu Abegaz, Executive Director, The African Academy of Sciences(AAS), Nairobi, Kenya and Hailemichael Teshome Demissie, PhD, Senior Research Fellow, African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), Nairobi, Kenya.
Additive manufacturing, popularly known by the colloquial ‘3D printing’, is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file by laying down successive layers of material until the entire object is created.
Ranging from bionic ears to hand guns, from car parts to prosthetics, from printed houses to printed drones, there is now an inexhaustible list of artefacts that are now 3D printed. 3D Printing is becoming increasingly popular around the globe and is expanding at an incredibly fast rate. Although it is still to take off fully in Africa, the continent needs to be prepared for the policy and legal implications that it might create. Some of the uses of the technology will re-introduce previous regulatory conundrums that dominated the debate on the international IP regimes. Africa was subjected to the harsh consequences of the international IP regime and emerged out of it as a victim rather than a beneficiary.