The ECOWAS council of ministers in line with NEPAD’s cultural plan of action endorsed the establishment of the Regional Copyright Observatory at their 63rd session held in Abuja in 2009, with a view to promoting the development of cultural industries and safeguarding the works of creators from piracy and fraud.
The RCO was officially inaugurated by the ECOWAS Commission in 2010 in Burkina Faso, and is mandated to monitor and evaluate the implementation of recommendations and decisions of ECOWAS authorities in the area of copyright protection.
The observatory is aimed at protecting the region’s cultural wealth, with the overall objective of enhancing economic development, social emancipation and regional integration.
The RCO comprising seven countries receives an annual grant from the ECOWAS Commission, and meets yearly to evaluate the progress made with regards to its mandate. Since its inauguration, the body held two meetings, in Niamey in 2011 and Accra in 2012.
The Banjul forum is meant to evaluate the implementation of the five-year plan of action and work program adopted by the observatory in 2010, and to consider the involvement of artists in the fight against piracy.
The meeting will also evaluate the progress made in the assessment and supervision of countries without proper copyright laws, contribute towards the harmonization of national legislations and consider the execution of its 2013 program of activities.
Regional experts will also consider reports on the coordination of the fight against fraud and piracy, as well as challenges militating against the development of cultural industries in the region.
At the end of the conference experts are expected to produce a comprehensive report on the application of the recommendation of the conference of ministers of culture, including achievements, constraints and solutions.
The forum will be graced by representatives from various RCO member states, artists, civil society organizations and independent observers.