AfricDeezayn application has been officially launched in West Africa to provide a virtual online space for designers in the subregion to showcase their creativity and talent and interact as a community.

The project, which is a creation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), is supported by Japan and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

Speaking at the launch in Abuja on Tuesday, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, Mrs. Massandje Toure-Litse said AfricDeezayn (a digital tool) will enable talented designers in West Africa to contribute to the region’s industrial development by stimulating innovation.

Toure-Litse, who was represented by Dr. Anthony Elumelu, said “a design is the intentional creation of solutions with a focus on aesthetics, functionality and user experience. It goes beyond visual appearance to include usability, ergonomics, accessibility and other aspects that influence the way we, as users, interact with a product or service.”

She explained that it can be applied to a range of fields, including graphic design, industrial design, user experience design, user interface design and service design, all with a view to seducing consumers and maintaining their trust.

She noted that AfricDeezayn application developed in collaboration with WIPO and funded by Japan is closely aligned with the vision of ECOWAS to promote technological innovation, job creation and creation of an appropriate environment which will lead to wealth and economic and social progress.

She said the project was in line with ECOWAS Commission’s aims of promoting sustainable and inclusive agricultural, industrial and intellectual productivity, adding that: “This is an opportunity for us to call on the private sector players in our region, particularly those in the Design Community, to take ownership of this tool and use it as a potential vector for innovation and improved productivity.”

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For his part, the Senior Director, Department for Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (DTIDGI), Brands and Designs Sector (BDS), World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Mr. Marcus Hopperger, said “AfricDeezayn is a bridge between us and the people that are at the core of our institutional efforts. We represent organisations committed to promoting IP as a tool for development and growth.

“AfricDeezayn opens to us the virtual world of communication, helping our outreach to key stakeholders of the Design ecosystem – designers, small and large businesses, IP practitioners and agents, the academe, women and youth groups – to more effectively address their information needs so that IP rights over designs are protected and the resulting benefits are fully enjoyed by their creators.”

He added that: “They will find in AfricDeezayn an educational hub for learning about design laws, with guides in navigating the process of applying for and registering designs to obtain their protection.

“AfricDeezayn does more than inform. It also shares the stories of many designers, whether young and mature entrepreneurs – their struggles and rewards, their aspirations and journey – these are well-springs of inspiration and motivation for fellow West African artists and design enthusiasts.”

He noted: “AfricDeezayn is the first platform in West Africa (and most likely the African continent) that is not only dedicated to Designs-related information, it also offers the Design communities in the ECOWAS countries a forum to connect with each other.

“AfricDeezayn honours the creative spirit of West Africa and its rich cultural heritage – and the men and women forming part of these communities. They deserve a platform through which they can easily get in touch with each other on any design-related issues while being supported in their communication needs.

“Better still, AfricDeezayn allocates space for designers to showcase their creations for optimal online visibility, empowering them to thrive in the competitive world of business and potentially generating commercial possibilities.”