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Africa: Plant breeders’ rights in Tanzania


Tanzania is a United Republic comprising of Mainland Tanganyika and the island of Zanzibar. Although Tanganyika and Zanzibar are considered a United Republic, no unified Industrial Property Law has been enacted. Tanzania and Zanzibar thus had different laws for plant breeders' rights (PBRs), also known as plant variety protection. PBRs are a sui generis system of IP rights designed specifically to protect new varieties of plants.

PBR protection has been available on mainland Tanganyika since 2004, in terms of the Tanzanian (mainland) Plant Breeders' Rights Law (2002) (repealed Tanzania Act). This Law was replaced by the United Republic of Tanzania Plant Breeders' Rights Act (2012) (new Tanzania Act), which came into force on June 1 2013. PBR protection has more recently become available in Zanzibar on January 2 2015, by the enactment of the Zanzibar Plant Breeders' Rights Act (2014) (The Zanzibar Act). Prior to this date PBR protection was not available in Zanzibar.

It is interesting to note that the two acts mimic one another with the vast majority of the Zanzibar Act reading the same as that of the new Tanzania Act. Certain amendments made to the new Tanzania Act and the careful drafting of the Zanzibar Act allow the PBRs granted in either Tanzania or Zanzibar to be enforced in both territories. This paved the way for The United Republic of Tanzania accession to the 1991 Act of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991) on October 22 2015, which was entered into force on November 22 2015.

The United Republic of Tanzania is among the 22 African countries that are members of UPOV, with Kenya recently acceding to UPOV 1991. Even more recently, Egypt has received approval from its cabinet to join UPOV.


Waheed Mahomed

Spoor & Fisher Pretoria

Building No. 13 

Highgrove Office Park 

Oak Avenue 


Pretoria, 0157 

Republic of South Africa 

Tel: +27 12 676 1111

Fax: +27 12 676 1100

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