West Africa Integrated Vector Management Steering Committee Adopted Workplan and Recommendations for the Year 2020

Members of the West Africa Integrated Vector Management (WA-IVM) Steering Committee, held a two-hour online meeting on June 26, 2020 to examine the impact of COVID-19 on their activities and discuss the way forward for the year 2020. The meeting brought together thirty biosafety and health regulators from ECOWAS countries, as well as AUDA-NEPAD staff serving as members of the programme Secretariat. In his opening remarks, Dr Rufus Ebegba, Vice-Chairman of the Steering Committee (SC), who presided over the meeting, welcomed participants and noted that “the COVID-19 pandemic has unexpectedly changed the course of activities over the world as the pandemic has demystified scientific discoveries and research hence it is important to take the project seriously so as to ensure that malaria is safely eradicated in Africa”. Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo, Head of AUDA-NEPAD West Africa Regional Office in Dakar and Head of ABNE programme, in his presentation on the achievements of the IVM program since its inception in 2017, and the output/outcomes for year 2020-2024 stated that “a first set of five IVM guidelines have been so far developed and validated by the different technical working groups. And the next steps are now to consolidate progress in West Africa and scale up the initiative to continental process while enhancing international engagement”. Subsequently, Dr Moussa Savadogo, ABNE Principal Programme Officer, made a presentation focusing on the initial workplan for the year 2020 and then the new workplan which has been revised taking into account the COVID-19 pandemic context. All activities requiring face to face meetings for stakeholders’ consultations and deliberations are postponed until the pandemic situation is improved and lockdowns...

New TAC Members of AUDA-NEPAD ABNE Met for Annual Review and Planning

As AUDA-NEPAD ABNE embarks on the third phase of its programme starting from June 2020, new Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) members have been appointed to replace the former committee whose term came to an end in December 2019. The new TAC members convened for their first meeting from 4 – 5 June 2020. Since face to face was not possible because of restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic management measures, the meeting was conducted using a virtual platform. TAC members comprise eminent experts selected from AU Commission, AUDA-NEPAD, partner institutions in Africa and outside, private sector and international organizations. The objectives of the meeting were to install the new TAC members and adopt the TAC guidelines manual, to review and adopt the technical progress report on implementation of the programme, and to update and adopt the annual workplan in line with the strategic objectives of the programme. The meeting started with opening remarks by the representatives of partner institutions and AUDA-NEPAD. They welcomed participants and commended ABNE for the achievements and progress made in the past decade in supporting AU member states building biosafety regulatory systems to safely harness modern biotechnology for agricultural transformation and socio-economic development. For the phase III of the programme, ABNE team was encouraged to ensure focus in order to make a difference with respect to safe access to technology by smallholder farmers for sustainable livelihood and socio-economic development. During the meeting, TAC members were taken through AUDA-NEPAD ABNE mandate, vision and mission, the organizational structure, and the service delivery approach. ABNE workplan for the first year of this new phase (June 2020 – May...

Successful biotechnology and biosafety study tour to India for African delegates

India, the other Asian dragon ranks today among the emerging markets. Africa has a lot to learn from India which, in many respects, has similarities to the continent: a dynamic population with fairly similar agro-ecological conditions and dominance of smallholder farmers, but also enormous food security and natural resources management challenges. It is in this context that the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), in collaboration with Michigan State University in the USA, organized from 8 to 16 February, 2020, a study tour at three locations in India covering New Delhi, Jalna and Hyderabad. Delegates from different African countries, including Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria and Togo took part in this study tour. The purpose of the study tour was to provide to regulators and scientists with an opportunity to learn from India’s experience in B.t. cotton. In the Indian capital, New Delhi, they were able to exchange views with the first officials of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, which groups together around a hundred research institutes across country in the various agricultural commodities. The participants were also able to immerse themselves in the legislative and institutional framework for biosafety and crop improvement, including the role of the state and national government agencies, the private sector, and civil society in the legal and institutional framework. In Jalna, participants were able to touch on the realities of B.t. cotton with the crucial role played by the private sector in this area. They were amazed by the performances of private companies such as Kalash Seeds specializing in the production of hybrid crops and the Mahyco Company, giant of...

Meeting between AUDA-NEPAD ABNE and Agence Nationale de Biosécurité in Burkina Faso

AUDA-NEPAD ABNE staff in Ouagadougou led by Dr Moussa Savadogo had a meeting with Agence nationale de biosécurité (ANB) team on 24 January, 2020, in ANB premises, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. ANB is the Burkina Faso national biosafety agency that governs all biosafety matters in the country. The key objective of this meeting was to introduce to the new DG of ANB, Prof. Nicolas Barro, the ABNE team in Burkina Faso, the mandate given to the newly transformed African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) in general and particularly the mission of the ABNE programme under the Center of Excellence for Rural Resources and Food Systems. During the meeting, Dr Savadogo highlighted the institutional transformation of AUDA-NEPAD and elaborated on the role ABNE in building functional biosafety regulatory systems in Africa. He also pointed out ABNE achievements in Africa so far and its priority interventions in Burkina Faso. Prof. Barro thanked ABNE team for the visit and the meeting. “The working session we had was rich both in terms of strategic information, support and pragmatic advice as well. The challenge of modern biotechnologies for the development of Africa invites us to solidarity for concerted efforts for the development of the continent. Burkina has embarked on this journey in compliance with biosafety legal instruments.” Prof. Barro also asked for more support from AUDA-NEPAD especially in terms of legal documents, decisions of the Heads of State of the AU and other relevant reports and statements. On behalf of ABNE Director, Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo, Dr Savadogo assured Prof. Barro of ABNE commitment for Burkina Faso and its National Biosafety Agency, so as to consolidate...

Capacity Strengthening on Biosafety Communication and Reporting for Media Practitionners, Scientists and Regulators

AUDA-NEPAD ABNE organized a 3-day biosafety communication and reporting training for media practitioners and communicators/scientists from Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) and Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), from 11 – 13 December, 2019. With the final drafts of the legal instruments for biosafety regulation including the Biosafety Policy, Biosafety Law and Ministerial Order already validated by stakeholders, the current focus was to ensure the enactment process is guided by well-informed considerations. This entailed ensuring adequate understanding of and public awareness on biotechnology and biosafety issues by the policy makers and general public. The Director General (REMA), Eng Colletha Ruhamya, gave the opening remarks at the training. A total of 28 participants drawn from 17 media institutions, and also from REMA and RAB, were empowered to adopt a structured approach to biosafety communication, exercise control on the delivery of key messages and ensure a continuous and systematic process of information sharing thereby addressing public misconception about products of modern biotechnology. The trained journalists admitted that the experience was the first of its kind, being a forum where journalists had opportunity to objectively interact with scientists, and enjoined AUDA-NEPAD not to relent in providing further support to strengthen biosafety communication in the country. Importantly, development of the biosafety communication strategy was initiated, with the participants highlighting the stakeholders, communicator groups and mode/means of communication. The trained communicators committed to ensuring collaboration and objective exchange of information towards effective public awareness on issues of biotechnology and biosafety in Rwanda. Further support on strengthening biosafety communication capacity was a critical and consensus request from all participants, thereby reiterating the remarks by the DG, REMA....

AUDA-NEPAD ABNE Technical Advisory Committee successfully held their 11th annual meeting in Nairobi

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of AUDA-NEPAD African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) successfully held its 11th annual meeting from 5 – 6 December in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting was chaired by Dr Dave Keetch from South Africa, Chair of the TAC. Were present in this meeting prof Magdy Madkour, Emeritus professor at Ain Shams university/Egypt, Dr Yaa Osei retired Lecturer from Kwame Nkrumah University Of Science and Technology, Prof. Charudatta D. Mayee from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Dr Franck Fear from Michigan State University/USA, Mr Lawrence Kent from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation/USA, Dr Yona Baguma from the National Agricultural Research Organisation/Uganda and Doug Buhler from MSU/USA. Were also present, as observers, members of ABNE management team: Mr Talla Kebe, Head of AUDA-NEPAD Directorate of Knowledge Management, Evaluation and Centres of Excellence, Dr Jeremy Tinga Ouedraogo, ABNE Director, and Dr Karim Maredia, from MSU/USA. In his opening remarks, Dr Dave Keetch welcomed participants and commended the ABNE team for the preparation of the meeting and for the activities carried out in 2019. Welcome remarks were also given by Mr. Lawrence Kent, on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, major donor of the programme, and by Dr. Doug Buhler, from Michigan State University, technical partner of the ABNE programme. The opening ceremony was followed by the presentation of ABNE Director’s Report and the Annual Technical Progress Report. A presentation of ABNE 2020 work plan, followed by discussions and comments, closed the first day sessions. The second day of the meeting was dedicated to TAC deliberations and recommendations. Among its observations, TAC noted with enthusiasm the...

New Director General of Burkina Faso’s National Biosafety Agency paid a courtesy call on AUDA-NEPAD office in Ouagadougou

Professor Nicolas Barro, new DG of the National Biosafety Agency (ANB) in Burkina Faso, paid a courtesy call on the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD node in Ouagadougou, on 18 September, 2019. He was welcomed by Dr Moussa Savadogo, AUDA-NEPAD Principal Programme Officer and Coordinator of the Ouagadougou node. In a short meeting, Dr Savadogo and his host discussed priority biosafety issues in Burkina Faso, in Africa and globally . Dr Savadogo gave an overview summary of the new structure of AUDA-NEPAD and emphasized on the need to work together to achieve the priority aspirations using science and technology as a key driver, and policy advisory services. Together, they also explored how to maintain and strengthen the partnership between their two offices for increased effectiveness of activities of common interest on the ground. To that effect, Prof Barro was given AUDA-NEPAD’s recent publications including the important reports and recommendations of the African Union’s High Level Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET). Pr Nicolas Barro was appointed Director General of ANB by the Government in Burkina Faso last month. He took office on 5 November, 2019 and replaced Pr Chantal Yvette ZOUNGRANA / KABORE, who has just retired after about 11 years services as head of the Agency. Prior to joining ANB, Prof. Barro was Vice-president in charge of Curricula and Pedagogical Innovations at “Universite Joseph Kizerbo Ouaga I”, since October 2012. He is a renowned scientist, Food safety Specialist and Full Professor of Biochemistry, Microbiology / Virology. He was awarded the rank of Knight of the International Order of Academic Palms by “Conseil Africain et Malgache pour l’Enseignement Superieur” (CAMES) on...

Stakeholders’ Deliberations on the National Biosafety and Biosecurity Strategy in Niamey, Niger

The National Center for Strategic Studies and Security (Centre National d’’Études Stratégiques et de Sécurité -CNESS) of Niger together with eleven sectoral ministries, in partnership with African Union Development Agency – NEPAD held a national stakeholders consultation on the national biosafety and biosecurity draft document, on 7 November, 2019, in Niamey. The objective of the meeting was to finalize the strategy document and technically endorse it before it is tabled to the Government for final adoption. More than a hundred participants drawn from relevant government departments, international partner institutions, research institutes, universities and the civil society attended the meeting. The opening ceremony was chaired by M. Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou, Minister and ‘Directeur de Cabinet’ of the President of the Republic of Niger which shows the high priority accorded to this process by the top level political authorities of the country. Mr Ouhoumoudou was accompanied by M. Mallam Zaneidou Amirou, Minister of Industry, Mrs Ramatou Doula Talata, Secretary General of the Presidency of the Republic and several senior officers from the Ministry of Defense and Security. AUDA-NEPAD CEO was represented by Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo, Head of the AUDA-NEPAD Regional Office for West Africa, accompanied by the Principal Program Officer for Environmental Biosafety and the Communications Officer. In his opening remarks, Mr Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou recalled that “the government of Niger has adopted the national biosafety Act which was subsequently approved by the Parliament last month. This law is a key legal instrument that will allow the country to safely manage modern biotechnology applications in the country”. He also highlighted the importance of the national biosafety strategy that will serve as a roadmap...

STAKEHOLDER VALIDATION MEETING ON THE POLICY AND LEGAL INSTRUMENTS AND A CAPACITY STRENGTHENING MEETING ON REVIEW OF BIOSAFETY APPLICATIONS FOR REGULATORS AND TECHNICAL EXPERTS IN RWANDA

AUDA-NEPAD has been working with the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) and other stakeholders towards creating an enabling environment to safely harness modern biotechnology as a tool for agricultural transformation and socio-economic development. The policy and legal instruments were recently finalized after several stakeholder consultative meetings and one-on-one consultations with the Legal Officers of REMA. In view of this, a stakeholder validation meeting was held from 29th to 30th October, 2019. Also, a capacity strengthening meeting on administrative handling and review of biosafety applications for research was conducted for regulators and technical experts from 31st October to 1st November, 2019. Both activities were held in Nyamata, Bugesera District of Rwanda. Stakeholders were adequately represented including civil society organizations and women groups. Presentation of the final drafts of the biosafety policy, biosafety law and ministerial orders were made to the stakeholders to verify that all deliberations and observations from previous consultations have been well captured and provided for in the legal instruments. The stakeholders having formally accepted the provisions of the policy and legal instruments, unanimously endorsed their validation. A roadmap towards facilitating the enactment of the validated legal instruments was then agreed on, to be implemented by AUDA-NEPAD and REMA. Hands-on training on administrative handling of biosafety application, and review and decision making on biosafety applications through powerpoint presentations, group break-out/practical review sessions, role play and plenary discussions resulted in acquisition of requisite capacity in biosafety administration and application review for informed biosafety decision making in Rwanda. Following the validation of the policy and legal instruments, AUDA-NEPAD will provide support towards sensitizing cabinet and parliament members as well as...