Capacity building in Uganda on the Development of Biosafety Regulations for the implementation of the Genetic Engineering Regulatory Act

A two-day consultative and training Workshop was held from 23rd-24th June, 2019, in Kampala, Uganda to enhance the safe development, transfer, application, importation and utilization of genetically engineered materials.
The Government of Uganda established a Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) on recognizing Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) is key to the country’s socio-economic growth and transformation. Premised on the resolve that Technology and Innovation development is an important determinant of progress and transition, the Ministry is mandated to provide over all Policy Guidance and Coordination for scientific research, development and the whole National Innovation System in Uganda. Its establishment came in at a time when the Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill was ready for presentation before parliament for discussions and subsequent passage into law. A process which the ministry managed throughout up to the passage and now it lays before the President for the final assent.

Group picture of participants

With the conclusion of that process, it is almost certain that it is the ministry to be the competent Authority in regard to GMO development, and regulation. With a team of nearly new staff as a reason of its infancy, the ministry faces the challenge of lack of capacity in matters of Biotechnology, and other emerging technologies especially in the field of Biosciences and their Regulation. This challenge would also present difficulties in the development of implementing regulations to the law once the President assents to it. This lack of adequate capacity prompted the ministry to ask of AUDA-NEPAD/ABNE to support the enhancement of the capacity of its staff in the aspects of Biotechnology and other emerging technologies especially in the field of Biosciences such as Synthetic Biology, and Genome Editing. Which ABNE very much obliged and designed a training in the field Biotechnology and Genome Editing and how to develop regulations for their regulation, and how the regulations are implemented. Experiences from Africa and elsewhere were also shared in the two day residential training workshop.
In fulfilling this mandate, ABNE contributes to AU Agenda 2063 Aspiration “A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development” and also aligns with Aspiration 1 area 11 of focus that have identified key elements for spurring Africa’s growth to be- job creation, increasing agricultural production; investments in science, technology, research and innovation and provision of basic services including nutrition, education, shelter, water and sanitation. Also Aspiration 1 area of Activity 13 that states- “Africa’s agriculture will be modern and productive, using science, technology, innovation and indigenous knowledge (Africa Union, 2014).
Support rendered to Uganda will create an enabling environment and the country would certainly overcome its food insecurity challenges, increase agricultural productivity and better its food nutrition. This would support to enhance programmatic performance that will enable AUDA-NEPAD Agency to fulfil its mandate, and fast track delivery of Africa’s transformation as encapsulated in Agenda 2063.
It is expected that the just concluded meeting will help staff of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and other stakeholder to create an enabling environment that would bring the successful research outcomes the country registered in Agricultural Biotechnology over the years out of the laboratories and confined fields to the producers on the ground and thus contribute to increase agricultural productivity and better food nutrition of the nation.