Under the auspices of NEPAD Agency ABNE, an African Biosafety Communication Network was launched on 18 July, 2017 in Entebbe during the Africa Ag-biotech and Biosafety Communication (ABBC) symposium.
The launching ceremony was chaired by Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo, Director of NEPAD Agency’s West Africa Regional Office in Dakar. It was co-chaired by Dr. Charles Mugoya, Chair of the Uganda National Biosafety Committee, Dr Theresa Ssengoba from the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology, Dr Douglas Buhler, Director/Assistant Vice-president and Administrative leader of Michigan State University AgBioResearch, and Margaret Karembu, Director of ISAAA Africenter. Around 60 people, including government officials, communications specialists, NBC representatives and staff from various biosafety service providers in Africa took part in this event.
The key objectives of the African biosafety communication network are: to identify and support key biosafety media specialists in African countries and help them develop/update/implement country communication strategy; to help harmonize and optimize partners and service providers’ initiatives to build a strong and effective biosafety communication network in Africa; to effectively monitor outputs and outcomes of the support provided to the network and identify gaps and needs; to implement functional information sharing platforms for network members (Web pages, mailing list, social media and online resources etc.); and to provide timely communication assistance to countries especially in coordination with the Association of National Biosafety Agencies in Africa (ANBAA) for issue management, dissemination of sound research findings and benefits etc.
Members and potential members of the network will include Communication Specialists of biosafety service providers in Africa, communication persons from the National Biosafety Authorities, members of national/regional science/biosafety communication networks and any other relevant candidate.
In the upcoming months, the network plans to implement a mailing group by August, 2017 and to organize a workshop to agree on draft network statutes and memoranda, and the annual workplan for the next year.