Training in biosafety communication for the Mozambican regulators

NEPAD Agency African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) in partnership with GIIBs under the Ministry of Science and Technology, Higher Education and Professional Technicians (MCTESTP) organized a training workshop in Biosafety communication, and WEMA application technical backstopping for GIIBs. The opening ceremony was chaired by Prof Dr Eng Leda Florinda Hugo, Vice Minister of of Science and Technology, Higher Education and Professional Technicians. 36 people attended the workshop including regulators, communicators and scientists. This capacity building initiative had two key components: Biosafety communication training workshop for the regulatory body and stakeholders, and a separate technical backstopping on the issue of dossier review administrative documentation procedures and technical meeting with the Mozambican regulatory body (GIIBs) on the major areas of establishment of best practice and functionality of the regulatory institution in Mozambique. The two dimensions of the training essentially helped enhance the general knowledge about genetic engineering and adoption trends of genetically modified crops/food and helped identify the main gaps in the Mozambican legislation. It also allowed improving the communication skills of the MCTESTP-GIIBS team and increasing their knowledge about international organisations dealing with biosafety and biotechnology. The next steps in NEPAD Agency ABNE support to the Mozambican biosafety regulatory framework will include technical assistance for the revision of the biosafety regulation, and for drafting an ACT for biosafety which will function as umbrella for all the biosafety regulation to be developed. Other areas of capacity building will be among others communication strategy development, and implementing a fully operational national biosafety...

High Level Conference on Agricultural Transformation in Africa

NEPAD Agency ABNE in partnership with The Ugandan Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) organized a High-Level Conference on Application on Science, Technology and Innovation in Harnessing Opportunities for Africa’s Agricultural Transformation from 26 to 29 September 2017, in Kampala. Close to 600 Participants took part in this conference, including Ministers from the Government of Uganda, Members of Parliament from the country and other African countries. During the conference, Akile Sunday, ABNE Senior Programme Officer delivered a presentation on “Evidence-Based Biosafety Policies and Regulations for the Transformation of Africa’s Agriculture”. The message to the meeting resonated with the interest of many African countries. Thanks to the support providedby NEPAD Agency and other international service providers to the Ugandan regulators and stakeholders, the country has finally passed her Biosafety bill into law. This will certainly allow Uganda to safely continue the use of science, technology and innovation opportunities for a sustainable development of the...

Training Workshop on Biotechnology Products Application Evaluation in Namibia

NEPAD Agency ABNE in partnership with the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST) organized a training workshop on mock application evaluation of biotechnology products from 17 – 22 September, 2017 for Namibian regulators and stakeholders. The main objective of the workshop was to build the capacity of Namibian regulators on the basic concepts of assessing genetically modified organisms (GMO) applications and to equip Namibian regulators with the necessary tools for the handling of GMO applications. Twenty participants took part in this training, including regulators from the Biosafety secretariat and legal secretariat, the Biosafety council members, technical experts from in line ministries and from Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency. Through this workshop, the participants were successfully introduced to science background of the GMOs technologies, basic concepts of administrative handling of biosafety applications and they were able to understand the concept of risk analysis in the decision making pathways. The training also enhanced their capacity with regard to conducting risk assessment of GMOs and to review applications based on scientific evidence and socioeconomic considerations. As per its mandate to provide technical support for the implementation of functional regulatory systems in African countries, ABNE is committed to continuing building the capacity of Namibian regulators in the biosafety area. Future interventions will include giving in-depth understanding of food/feed safety assessment, environmental risk assessment and training media practitioners in biosafety...

NEPAD Agency CEO, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Wins the African Agriculture Leadership Award 2017

NEPAD Agency CEO, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki is the winner of the 2017 African Agriculture Leadership Award, awarded by the Indian Council of Food and Agriculture (ICFA) in New Delhi, India. “I am pleased to convey the decision of the National Organising Committee of 10th Global Agriculture Leadership Awards 2017, which met in New Delhi on Aug 1, 2017, under the Chairmanship of Prof. MS Swaminathan, Father of India’s Green Revolution, to confer upon you the African Agriculture Leadership Award 2017 for your pioneering work spanned over three decades towards empowering African farm and farmers through innovative policies, promoting agriculture research, investments, technology development, partnerships and international cooperation, which have positively impacted the lives of large number of farmers in African continent”, said Dr. MJ Khan, Chairman of ICFA. Agriculture Leadership Awards were launched in 2008 to recognize the leadership roles played by individuals and institutions, which are positively impacting the lives of farmers and rural masses. The Awards are presented in different areas including Policy, Research, Extension, Farming, Industry, Environment, Innovations, Entrepreneurship, CSR, Development, Life Time Achievements, International Policies and State Leaderships. Congratulations to NEPAD CEO for this recognition and for his effective leadership in spurring development initiatives across the African...

A new African Biosafety Communication Network to optimize efforts in the biosafety communication sector

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. “After almost a decade of biosafety capacity enhancing to help build functional biosafety regulatory systems across the continent, NEPAD Agency ABNE is now strategically focusing on fostering proactive initiatives through specific experts networks to help African countries safely harness science technology and innovation opportunities. The communication network we are establishing today come after a successful implementation of other networks, namely the lawyers network, the food and feed safety network, the environmental network and the socioeconomic network recently established in Accra”, said Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo in his opening remarks. “This network is very timely, as Uganda’s parliament is preparing to pass the biosafety bill and we look forward to working with the members of this network to improve public understanding of biosafety in the country”, said Dr. Charles Mugoya. The key objectives of the African biosafety communication network are: to identify and support key biosafety media specialists in African countries and help...

Workshop on GMO Dossier Review for African Regulators, and Launch of NEPAD-ABNE Biosafety Socioeconomic Resource Network

Workshop on GMO Dossier Review for African Regulators, and Launch of NEPAD-ABNE Biosafety Socioeconomic Resource Network NEPAD Agency African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE), in partnership with the Michigan State University (MSU), organized a 5-day workshop on GMO dossier review for African regulators from June 26 – 30, 2017 in Accra, Ghana. The workshop sought to technically capacitate participants in the evaluation of biosafety application dossiers to enable them make science-based recommendations for consideration by competent national authorities during decision-making. It was attended by biosafety regulators from eight African countries: Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Swaziland, and Uganda. During a brief opening ceremony, Dr. Jeremy Ouedraogo, Head of NEPAD Agency ABNE stressed the importance of having functional biosafety systems noting that they would provide an adequate level of safety in accessing new beneficial products. He also noted that the meeting was a key step in creating a platform that will foster cooperation towards attaining future joint reviews and mutual recognition of environmental and food safety assessment reports within biosafety systems in regional economic communities. Michigan State University’s WorldTap Programme Director, Dr. Karim Maredia, in mentioning their long standing tradition of working with countries in Africa, pledged MSUs continued support in availing global resources to ensure a critical mass of assessors with the necessary skills and tools to be able to conduct science-based risk assessment on applications. At the end of the training participants indicated strengthened competencies in discharging their mandate. Beyond the training, the resource networks from which participants were drawn – environmental biosafety and food safety resource networks – are expected to serve as support mechanisms for...

A memorandum of understanding for more collaboration towards building a functional biosafety regime in Mozambique

NEPAD Agency ABNE signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Science and Technology, High and Technical Vocational Education in Mozambique on 30th June, 2017. The NEPAD Agency delegation was led by Dr Jeremy T. Ouedraogo while the Mozambican party was led by Hon. Prof. Dr. Eng. Jorge Olívio Penicela Nhambiu, Minister of Science and Technology, High and Technical Vocational Education. In his speech, Dr Ouedraogo thanked the minister for this opportunity to establish a link with the ministry and also see ABNE with African union mandate to sign a MoU for assistance in building the regulatory capacity of Mozambique for a safe use of biotechnology in the country. He pledged the ABNE support drawing from the expertise in Africa and around the world and the ABNE technical expert to help the regulators. He laid out the coordinating effort of NEPAD by establishing networks like ANBAA, Environmental network, Lawyers network, food safety networks to help the member state and tap from the wealth of expertise available within the continent. Hon. Minister Prof. Dr. Eng. Jorge Olívio Penicela Nhambiu congratulated all those who directly or indirectly contributed to the signing of this memorandum. “Biotechnology is a technique with the potential to contribute to the improvement of agriculture through pest and disease control, thus increasing production and productivity. It can also contribute to the preservation and improvement of the quality of the environment”, he said. “However, it should be developed and used with adequate safety measures for the environment and for human health… With the public act of signing the memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Science and...

Regulating gene drive technologies, vector control programmes in the RECs

NEPAD Agency convened a meeting of experts in the East African Community (EAC) region to consult and discuss the potential that emerging technologies, including gene drives, can offer in the elimination of malaria in Africa. It is a fact that Malaria is number one killer disease that takes the lives of many people in Africa. In 2015, there were 212 million new cases of malaria reported worldwide, 90% of which were from WHO African Region. Out of the estimated 429 000 malaria deaths worldwide in the same year, 92% occurred in the African region. Various vector control interventions have been implemented for many years with limited success in eliminating the disease. Interventions such as, indoor residual spraying (IRS) and insecticide treated bed nets (ITNs) have been employed but have been hampered by resurgence of resistance of mosquitoes against the chemicals. The consultation meeting held from 20-22 June 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya, under the leadership of Prof. Aggrey Ambali. The meeting offered a window of opportunity for experts in the EAC region to put their minds together to discuss the new technology on gene drives as an additional intervention to complement the existing malaria control efforts. The environmental, agricultural, biosafety and health experts, regulators and scientists were drawn from twelve (12) countries and regional economic communities namely; Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and the East African Community Secretariat. The partners present in the meeting included; Donald Danforth Plant Science Centre (DDPSC); International Life Sciences Institute Research Foundation (ILIS); Foundation for the National Institute of Health( FNIH); Target Malaria, BioInnovate, Ifakara Research Centre,...

Regional Approach to Control Mosquitoes that transmit Diseases in Africa

In Accra from the 5th to the 8th of June 2017, a team from the NEPAD Agency led by Professor Aggrey Ambali, Head of Industrialization, Science, Technology and Innovation (ISTI) is meeting with these regulators from four West Africa countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Senegal, Mali) and Uganda to discuss and formulate a preliminary regional approach to the control of disease transmitting mosquitoes in the region, building on their experiences during a study tour to South America. Mosquitoes of the genus Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are responsible for the transmission of arboviruses responsible for Yellow fever, Chikungunya, Zika virus, Dengue, Malaria and Rift Valley Fever. These diseases are increasingly becoming a global public health concern due to their rapid spread. In April 2017, regulators and other senior government officials from five countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal) in the ECOWAS region with Tanzania and Uganda were on a study tour, organised by the NEPAD Agency and Danforth Centre, to Brazil and Colombia, to gain practical exposures to integrated disease transmitting mosquito control programs in those countries and understand their regulatory requirements and processes, as well as assess their effectiveness. The regulators and NEPAD Agency staff are discussing experiences from the study tour and identification of approaches that can be adopted for a regional programme on regulatory strengthening. The topics covered include technology development and transfer, regulatory capacity strengthening, inter-sectoral collaboration, south-south collaboration, advocacy and policy articulation, community engagement, and leveraging political will and commitment. The essence of regional harmonisation in disease control activities cannot be overlooked, as the mobile nature of mosquitoes makes it more practical for...

Eliminating malaria in Africa by 2030, by reducing the population of mosquitos

Ouagadougou – Malaria is spread by female mosquitos (vectors) that pick up the parasite from an infected person then inject it in to the blood of the next person being bitten. Historically, this fact has been known for a long time and medicines to treat malaria have been developed. Currently efforts are doubling-up to also focus more on the cause of malaria, the mosquito. New tools are being developed through genetic alteration to control mosquitoes and eradicate malaria. On 01 June 2017, a team of experts led by Prof. Aggrey Ambali paid a courtesy call on the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) Secretariat in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to facilitate the necessary dialogue to allow for concerted efforts in building regulatory capacities to effectively manage this innovation. This courtesy call to UEMOA is very important because gene drive technology for malaria vector control involves organisms that are mobile. Therefore, regulation of transgenic insects will have to take into account trans-boundary issues. In this case, a regional regulatory approach needs to be pursued in addition to the national regulatory systems approach. This will require building strong collaborative arrangements between countries and harmonizing technical requirements and processes for regulating transgenic insects, the most practical being at regional level. NEPAD Agency already has established mechanisms for establishing joint working groups that can work at regional level on regulatory matters which will be adapted for this project. During the courtesy call, the NEPAD Agency team of experts had discussions with the Regional Programme Coordinator on Biosafety, Mr. Saidou Kina who highlighted the progress and status of WAEMU regulation to date. Prof. Ambali...