The International Intellectual Property Regime and the Enclosure of African Knowledge
C. George Caffentzis
We must be firm in naming names and telling our trading partners that we will act if they harbor pirates, counterfeiters, or permit infringements to go unpunished--Ira S. Shapiro, General Counsel, Office of the U.S. Trade. ( U.S. Senate Committee on Finance 1993)
The question must again be asked: to which workers ought the (unevenly) developed productive forces belong? Which workers' wages should be determined by them? Those of the area where these forces are located? Those of the branch of production or the enterprise that possess them? ( Emmanuel 1972)
The motivations behind the structural adjustment policy the World Bank has imposed on African universities are by now the object of a large debate ( Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa 1991, 1995, 1996; Seidman and Anang 1992). Inevitably, one of the questions that scholars and activists have asked is why the World Bank has been unwilling to reconsider this policy, despite the fact that it undermines one of the main achievements of postcolonial Africa--the creation, in one generation, of a university system virtually exnihilo--and despite the fact that its pernicious consequences have for some time been evident. In addition, why has the World Bank forced many universities to practically grind to a halt (as in the case of Nigeria and the former Zaire) or to survive by relying on foreign "donors" and, in the process, loose any semblance of independence (as in the case of Tanzania and Uganda)? Why has it assisted the most massive brain drain witnessed in Africa, since the slave trade, and why has it ignored the endless violations of students' and teachers' rights that the adjustment policies have cost?
This situation seems even more puzzling given that the World Bank has persistently stressed the importance of knowledge for "developing" countries,