Information Sharing and Sensitization Seminar on Biotechnology and Biosafety for Members of Parliament in Senegal

The National Biosafety Authority of Senegal, “Autorité Nationale de Biosécurité (ANB)”, in partnership with AUDA-NEPAD African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) organized an information sharing and sensitization seminar on biotechnology and biosafety for the Senegalese Members of Parliament (MPs), from 6 – 7 July, 2019, at Saly Portudal, M’bour region. . The seminar aimed to equip the MPs with science-based information on modern biotechnology and biosafety and to provide an opportunity for them to hold preliminary discussions on the provisions on draft revised biosafety law that will be soon presented before the Parliament for adoption. We recall that the Government of Senegal, with the support of AUDA-NEPAD ABNE, started in 2015 the process of revising its 2009 biosafety law that was found to be limiting the functionality of the country biosafety system. Up to forty (40) MPs effectively attended the seminar. In his opening remarks, Hon. Cheikh Seck, Chairman of the Select Committee stressed that “the precautionary principle which should have encouraged measured actions in the area of biotechnology has finally proven to be a principle of inaction. However, in order to face uncertainties, it is compelling to develop research programs in order to provide answers and lessen doubts. It is obvious that scientific evidence only remains the sources for relevant answers to unknowns. Therefore we should not hinder science for the sake of the comfort of maintaining status quo situations. It is then appears necessary, if not urgent, to revisit the Senegalese biosafety law in order to make it operational, implementable and efficient.” Sound scientists and biosafety experts from national institutions and from AUDA – NEPAD ABNE introduced...

African Biosafety Regulators Improve their Knowledge on Genome Editing Regulations and Establish the African Union Biosafety Regulators Forum

As part of COP-MOP intersessional activities, AUDA-NEPAD ABNE and the AU Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology organised a consultation and training on Genome Editing and a Post-UN Biodiversity Conference 2018 Review Meeting, from 25 – 28 June, 2019 in Addis Ababa. Following the recommendation made by the AU member states in September 2018, that the AU biosafety regulators forum be established, the said platform was constituted on 28 June, 2019. The gathering brought together 60 participants (regulators and scientists) from 31 AU member States. In his opening remarks, Nicholas Omondi Ouma, on behalf of Dr Mahama Ouedraogo, Director of the African Union Commission Department of Human Resource, science and Technology welcomed the participants and said that “the technical and policy issues pertaining to the application of genome edition is a critical conversation to have. It is therefore in this regard that the AU Commission is supporting this important initiative by our implementing partners at AUDA through the ABNE Program in the preparation of this training”. This meeting had two main components; the first one concerned the capacity building aspect and the second one, on the last day, was dedicated to the COP-MOP follow-up and the establishment of the African Biosafety Regulatory Forum. The last COP-MOP discussions in Egypt focused on emerging technologies like gene drive, genome editing and synthetic biology and the African Group of Negotiators expressed the need for capacity strengthening in these areas. AUDA-NEPAD and AUC initiated this meeting to respond to this request and strengthen the capacity of African regulators on genome editing first, while planning for training on other emerging technologies before the...

Stakeholder Seminar on the biosafety draft law and to develop priority regulatory tools in Niger

Based on their request, AUDA NEPAD assisted the Niger Ministry of Environment, Urban Health and Sustainable Development and the Centre for Strategic Studies and Security (CNESS) to organise a Stakeholder Seminar on biotechnology, biosafety and biosecurity, on 22 June 2019, in Niamey. This one-day meeting aimed to inform and sensitize stakeholders from various institutions about the requirements for a functional biosafety system and what needs to be achieved in the country to enable functionality of the national regulatory system. It also sought to provide technical backstopping to the biosafety regulators from the Ministry of Environment to develop top priority regulatory tools including implementing instruments and application forms for import/export of food and feed derived from modern biotechnology. The morning session which constituted the sharing information and sensitization component of the seminar gathered around 50 regulators and scientists from government institutions and their partner organisations. Dr Moussa Savadogo, AUDA-NEPAD Principal Programme Officer and Dr Zaki Gado, Focal Point of the Cartagena Protocol on biosafety at the Ministry of Environment shared up-to-date information with the participants, with regard to the functionality of a biosafety system, the satus of the national biosafety draft bill and on the West Africa regional harmonised biosafety framework. The afternoon session gathered a focused group of national experts assigned to draft priority regulatory tools for the country. With the assistance of the AUDA-NEPAD biosafety expert, the group was able to develop three draft legal instruments one for the implementation of the scientific biosafety advisory committee, the second to guide the biosafety risk assessment process, and the third one to lay down the requirements for import / export...

Experts of Technical Working Groups Meet in Dakar to Review Draft Guidelines of the West Africa Integrated Vector Management Platform

Experts of Technical Working Groups Meet in Dakar to Review Draft Guidelines of the West Africa Integrated Vector Management Platform African Union Development Agency NEPAD, in partnership with the West Africa Health Organization facilitated a consultative meeting of Technical Working Groups (TWGs) to review draft guidelines of the West Africa Integrated Vector Management Platform (WA-IVM). The meeting brought together 50 experts who are members of the TWGs of the WA-IVM platform. The experts are nominated by their respective countries and are drawn from national biosafety committees or agencies of ECOWAS countries, national ethics committees and drug regulatory agencies. The WA-IVM platform was established and inaugurated in August 2018 in Accra, under the joint facilitation of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and the West African Health Organization (WAHO) of ECOWAS. The platform is organized around a steering committee, and four technical working groups inaugurated last April in Abidjan. The main role of the technical working groups is to prepare technical documents in different fields relevant for the safe testing and subsequent deployment of new and novel vector control tools. . In his opening speech, Mr. Abdou Karim Sall, Senegal Minister in charge of Environment and Sustainable Development welcomed the participants and said that “The topic that brings us together concerns mosquitoes in the context of the fight for the elimination of malaria, which disease has caused the African continent and its populations too much suffering. I would like to remind you, here, how much the weight of this disease and its heavy consequences negatively impact the sustainable development efforts that are made daily by our governments and our populations...

Technical workshop to develop biosafety regulatory tools and advance the process of setting up a functional biosafety system in Senegal

NEPAD Agency ABNE, in partnership with the national biosafety agency “Autorite Nationale de Biosecurite (ANB)” of Senegal, successfully carried out a technical workshop aimed to assist the country develop a number of basic biosafety regulatory tools that are required for building a functional biosafety system that will enable the country to safety harness the benefits from modern biotechnology. The meeting took place from 6 – 9 June, 2019 at Saly Portudal, Senegal, and brought together regulators from ANB under the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (Minsitere de l’Environnement et du Development Durabel), and resource persons from other institutions. . The three day intensive program lead to the development of application forms for confined field trials of biotech crops, application form for importation / exportation of food and feed derived from biotechnology products; draft decrees laying down procedures for risk assessment, and draft regulation for the establishment of the scientific advisory committee responsible for dossier review and recommendations for decision making. At the end of the meeting, Mr. Ousseynou Kasse, Executive Director of ANB, expressed his high appreciation of the outcomes of the meeting as this was a critical need for Senegal, and thanked NEPAD Agency ABNE for its support for this opportunity and also during the past years. . “We now have part of the key tools we needed to be operational. These are important technical and regulatory tools that will allow us to fulfill our responsibilities”, he said. He added that his institution and the whole country rely on a continued support from NEPAD to develop the remaining tools that are needed for the country to have...

Capacity building for Members of the National Biosafety Committee and select News Media groups in Mozambique

African Union Development Agency NEPAD ABNE in partnership with the Ministry of Science and Technology, Higher and Technical Vocational Education of Mozambique organized an Induction Seminar for Members of the National Biosafety Committee (GIIBS) in Mozambique, from 8 – 10 May, 2019 in Maputo. The objective of the seminar was to build the capacity of the GIIBS members in biosafety and especially their role in the national biosafety system. Under the current legal framework, the GIIBS membership are selected on their competency to represent different sectors in the country. It was important to build their capacity in the different aspects of Biosafety due to differences of background and highlight their responsibilities. In his opening remarks, Prof. Doutor Engo. Jorge Nhambiu, Minister of Science and Technology, Higher and Technical Vocational Education of Mozambique reminded that ”Mozambique has started field testing of drought tolerant maize since 2017 in order to safely use the potential of biotechnology tools to effectively cope with climate change and environmental issues”. He added that their supports in the sensitization of the Mozambican people on the decisions taken by the National Biosafety Authority is contextualized, science based and understood building on the pillar of awareness creation”. During the meeting, presentations were made by AUDA-NEPAD ABNE experts, GIIBs coordinator, and local scientists and government officials on biotechnology and biosafety key topics including Genetic Engineering Science, Global Biotechnology Adoption Trends, International and regional legal policies and instruments relevant to the regulation of modern biotechnology, Biotech Product and Field Inspection Procedures, Country engagement in International Negotiation, Roles and responsibility of GIIBs by Decree 71/2014, and Proposed GIIBS Activities Plan for...

Inauguration and first meeting of WA-IVM Technical Working Groups

African Union Development Agency – NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD) in collaboration with the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO), the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Environment in Cote d’Ivoire, organized the inaugural meeting of WA-IVM Technical Working Groups (TWGs) from 24 – 26 April, 2019, in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Dr. ABLE, Inspector General of the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene, representing the Minister, co-chaired the opening ceremony with Mr LAVRY, Technical Advisor of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. In his keynote address, Dr ABLE welcomed participants and thanked organizers for choosing Cote d’Ivoire for such an event. He also stated that “nobody has the right to stay insensitive to the malaria tragedy imposed on us by mosquitoes. While acknowledging the significant progress made during the last decade and our common move against malaria, we must today admit that unless alternative strategies are developed and implemented, the global objective to control malaria from 2016 – 2030 and reduce cases and mortality due to malaria by 40% by 2020 will not be achieved.” The programme covered the official swearing-in of the members of the Technical Working Groups, selection of Chairpersons and Rapporteurs of the TWGs and the review of detailed terms of reference of the TWGs. As part of the programme, each TWGs work plan and capacity strengthening needs were also reviewed. The nominees from the Member States are expert TWGs and some of them were not familiar with gene drive for the control of malaria so the general objective was to improve knowledge and enhance capacities of participants in the management and regulation of gene drive technology for...

Biosafety sensitization workshop for the Newly Constituted Portfolio Committee parliamentarians and a group of Journalists in Eswatini

African Union Development Agency – NEPAD ABNE, in partnership with the Eswatini Environmental Authority, successfully carried out a biosafety sensitization workshop for the Newly Constituted Portfolio Committee parliamentarians and for a group of Journalists, from 15 – 18 April, 2019, in Ezulwini, Eswatini. Eight Portfolio Committee parliamentarians on environmental affair and 8 media practitioners across major news media houses attended the two meeting respectively along with government officials and resource persons from the research sector. The Objectives of these two awareness workshops were first to enhance the capacity of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee members on biosafety to enable them to make informed decisions regarding the Amendment Biosafety Bill which would soon be tabled to the parliament, and for them to take ownership of the request Bill from the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affair. The meeting also was to offer the opportunity of a seeing-is-believing tour, for both the Members of Parliament and the Journalists group, to a conventional cotton field, the local ginnery, and a commercial Bt Cotton field within Eswatini. The awareness sessions for journalists aimed to enhance their understanding and skills on fact-based reporting on biotechnology and biosafety issues in the country. The series of sessions was officially opened by Hon. Moses Vilakati, Minister of Tourism and environmental Affairs. In his opening remarks, Hon. Vilakati said this sensitization workshop was timely and was an opportunity to reflect on biosafety issues and “to sharpen the country’s swap to better understand the subject matter and better implement the national strategies and plans. During the two meetings, presentations were made on themes pertaining to biotechnology and biosafety, including Biotechnology...

Successful AUDA-NEPAD ABNE retreat on strategic plan and programme documents

African Union Development Agency-NEPAD ABNE (AUDA-NEPAD ABNE) held a retreat from February 18 – 22 in Johannesburg to finalise ABNE new strategic plan and programme documents. As the current phase II of ABNE is about to end on December 2019, ABNE Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) recommended that a strategic plan be developed to define the vision, mission and strategic objectives for the next five years. In his opening remarks, Prof. Aggrey Ambali, Head of AUDA-NEPAD Industrialisation, Science, Technology and Innovation, congratulated all participants for the results achieved in the past year. He mentioned the TAC meeting held in Seattle in December where TAC member commended the team for the good work. He encouraged all to keep this positive momentum. He also highlighted the fact that NEPAD has become AUDA-NEPAD with more competence and authority to coordinate and execute AU programmes. Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo, ABNE Director, welcomed staff to the retreat and wishes them the best for the New Year 2019. He pointed out there is a lot to deliver this year and that the team needs to work closely together. He added that the team also needs to be actively part of the new story of the Agency, especially with the establishment of AUDA-NEPAD. Now that NEPAD has become the African Union Development Agency with a new mandate, it is essential that a strategic plan be developed to show how ABNE could better fit in the AUDA-NEPAD outcomes. The 5-day meeting helped to thoroughly amend the draft version of the strategic plan and include all the new dimensions of ABNE work. The broader scope of the requests from member...

Meetings of the representative of AUDA/NEPAD with delegates at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Egypt

The 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the Convention on Biological diversity (CBD) was officially closed on 29 November, 2018 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Besides the plenaries and the meetings in the various working groups to try to reach consensus on biodiversity key issues, the conference was an opportunity for the representative of the African Union Development Agency, AUDA/NEPAD to meet several delegates to provide them with the necessary information and technical advices. Throughout the meetings, the African delegates had a strong common position on the need for emerging technologies for the development of the continent. This position was in line with the reports of the African Union (AU) High Level Panel on Emerging Technologies adopted by the African Heads of States, and officially launched in June, 2018, in Kigali, Rwanda. The AU NEPAD team, led by Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo, Director of the NEPAD Regional Office for West Africa and Director of the African Biosafety Network of Expertise, was requested by many authorities for informal meetings. Dr Ouedraogo particularly met African authorities who were present in Sharm El Sheikh for the high level segment of the biodiversity conference. Among the African leaders was Mr. Batio Nestor Bassiere, Minister of Environment, Green Economy and Climate Change of Burkina Faso. Dr Ouedraogo provided him will all the information pertaining to the recommendations of the AU High Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET) and offered him print versions of the relevant documents, including the Integrated Vector Management programme document. Dr Ouedraogo also met with Ms Silvia Ribeiro, Latin America Director for ETC group. Ms Ribeiro wished to...