Strengthening Regulatory Capacity of Biosafety Regulators and Communicators for Confined Field Trial Management in Tanzania

NEPAD Agency ABNE in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, in Tanzania, organized a Confined Field Trial (CFT) management training in Environmental Safety and Biosafety Communication from October 26th-27th Dodoma, Tanzania. This important activity entailed a day of in-house training workshop and then a day for field visit to Makutopora where stack trait DT/Bt WEMA maize has been planted for confined field trials. The objective of the training and field visit was to build a critical mass of biosafety expertise in Tanzania by empowering and strengthening the competencies of regulators in management of CFTs. It also sought to facilitate the adoption and implementation of best practices for the performance of regulatory functions and improve networking and cooperation among regulators, scientists, and decision-makers. The meeting was well attended and officiated by the Deputy Permanent Secretary to the office of the Vice President and he also availed himself to be part of the field visit to the Research site the following day. The meeting brought together representatives from institutions within the regulatory system, including the Competent National Authority (CNA) on Biosafety, Institutional Biosafety Committees, Plant Quarantine Officers, Scientific Advisory Committees, Biosafety Communicators and Officers from Government Agencies involved in regulating Agricultural Biotechnology in Tanzania. It also involved local resource persons from the Ministry of Environment and TARI, the Agriculture Research institute currently conducting the DT/Bt WEMA maize. After presentations and discussions pertaining to CFT management requirements and best practices on the first day, the field visit carried out the following day peculiarly gave most of the regulators an ideal hands-on training which some of them never received before. The experience dispelled...

Gene drive regulatory consultative training workshop for West African biosafety Stakeholders

NEPAD Agency ABNE, in partnership with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (DDPSC) organized a consultative and training workshop on the regulatory aspects of Gene Drive technology, from 16 – 18 October 2018 in Dakar, Senegal. 20 participants attended the workshop, mainly national biosafety stakeholders from Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal and experts from the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). The objective of this workshop was to develop a good understanding of the basics of the “Gene Drive” technology and its potential applications in various sectors including health and agriculture and to establish a basis for conducting risk assessment for decision making on the use of organisms modified with Gene Drive technology. it was also expected that interactions between the workshop participants will help build strong relationships based on trust and confidence for the establishment of functional frameworks for coordinated review of Gene Drive permit applications and collaborative policy development within countries and regionally. During the meeting, experts from NEPAD Agency, DDPSC, and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) shared knowledge and experiences on topics relating to the malaria vector control in Africa, the basic science of Gene Drive, the introduction to the use of malaria modelling to inform policy, risk assessment for organisms (plants, animals, insects, and microbes), risk assessment for biological control, Gene Drive regulatory and policy background in Africa. The presentations were followed by practical case studies and exercises that allowed participants to improve their understanding and skills on risk assessment and risk management for the review of the Gene Drive applications. The Gene Drive Technology is one of the emerging...

Training Workshop on Negotiation Skills and Techniques for National Focal Points of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

The African Union’s Department of Human Resources Science and Technology (HRST) and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency’s African Biosafety Network of Expertise program (AU-NEPAD-ABNE), in partnership with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) organized a training Workshop on Negotiation Skills and Techniques from 5-6 September, 2018 in Addis Ababa. This training workshop was in preparation for the upcoming Ninth Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) serving as the meeting of the parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP-MOP 9) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from November 17th to 29th, 2018. In his opening remarks, Dr Mahama Ouedraogo, Director of AU-HRST, affirmed that “this training workshop is being organised at a critical time, as COP/MOP 9 is nearing and as this time the COP/MOP is happening on our continent. It is important for African delegates to get the necessary skills to be able to make useful contributions on the part of Africa” Representatives from thirty-one (31) AU Member States who are mainly national focal points of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety attended the training. It was facilitated by Mr. Rabih El-Haddad, Manager of the Multilateral Diplomacy Programme at UNITAR and Dr. Joshua N. Weiss, Co-founder of the Global Negotiation Initiative at Harvard University and Senior Fellow at the Harvard Negotiation Project. The training covered key elements of negotiations skills and techniques, including the mindset of a successful negotiator, negotiation myths and barriers, introduction to two models of negotiation (positional approach and collaborative framework), challenging negotiation dynamic, and toolkit for efficient negotiations. In addition to formal presentations, participants were taken through various...

Coordination Meeting of the African Group for the Ninth Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity serving as the meeting of the parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 4 June 2018: A one-day African Group Coordination meeting was organized by the African Union’s Department of Human Resources Science and Technology (HRST) and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency’s African Biosafety Network of Expertise program (AU-NEPAD-ABNE). The coordination meeting was in preparation for the upcoming Ninth Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) serving as the meeting of the parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP-MOP 9) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from November 17th to 29th, 2018. In his welcome remarks, the Head of AU-NEPAD-ABNE, Dr. Jeremy T. Ouedraogo, expressed his appreciation for the commitment of African negotiators over the years towards advancing the interests of the continent during international negotiations and urged participants to not only represent the interests of their countries but also speak with one voice for Africa. Representatives from thirty-one (31) AU Member States who are national focal points of the Biosafety Protocol attended the meeting. The negotiators representing the African region discussed the agenda items of the COP-MOP 9 towards an African position setting. Among the key issues that the group focused on were risk assessment and risk management of living modified organisms, issues of compliance with the Protocol and socio-economic considerations vis-a-vis new and emerging technologies that impact the implementation of the Biosafety Protocol. Exchange of experiences on national reports, meeting obligations to the Biosafety Clearing-House and challenges faced as a result of allocation of financial resources to biosafety by the funding mechanism of the CBD were also considered. Recommendations to the Secretariat of the African Group (the AUC and the NEPAD Agency) regarding...

Establishment of the West Africa Integrated Vector Management Programme

Representatives from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states, met from 15 – 17 August, 2017, in Accra, Ghana, for the establishment of the West Africa Integrated Vector Management (WA-IVM) Programme. After a series of consultative workshops, this meeting was the final stage for the validation of the programme. The key objective of this meeting was to agree on the scope and approach for rolling out the WA-IVM programme with malaria as pathfinder disease and gene drive as pathfinder technology. The meeting also sought to identify the needs and requirements of regulators that would facilitate the operationalization of the IVM programme in the ECOWAS region. It also aimed at determining a governance structure for the programme and aimed at considering for adoption a five year workplan for the programme. 42 representatives, mainly CEOs for Food and Drugs Authorities, and National biosafety Agencies as well as from Ethics Committees of the 15 ECOWAS countries took part in the meeting. It was officially opened by Dr Rufus Ebegba, Director General of Nigeria National Biosafety Management Agency and representing his country that chairs ECOWAS. He stated that “science and technology are the major drivers of economic change and if there are no applications for science and technology, the African continent will not make any significant progress.” Mrs Mimi Darko, CEO of Ghana Food and Drug Authority and Mr. Eric Okoree, CEO the Ghana National Biosafety Agency, welcomed participants and wished that the different discussions contribute to fine-tune the IVM programme for a smooth and effective implementation on the ground. Dr Tete Amouh, Officer in charge of Communicable Disease at...

National Seminar on the Implementation of the Biosafety Regulation on the Management of Genetically Modified Organisms in Mozambique

The Ministry of Science and Technology, Higher Education and Professional Technicians (MCTESTP), organized National workshops on the Implementation of the Biosafety Regulation on the Management of Genetically Modified Organisms in Mozambique, from 11 – 12 July, 2018, in Maputo and the Minister invited NEPAD Agency African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) to bring in continental perspectives from a neutral point of view into the discussion with all the stakeholders. The objective of these two-in-one workshop was to engage all the stakeholder in a discussion on the issue of the Biosafety Decree and its implication for the Mozambican and a forum to officially inaugurate GIIB’s with all the ministries involved with the mandate as stipulated by the Decree. It was also a platform for reflection on the implementation of the Biosafety Regulation on the Management of Genetically Modified Organisms. The meeting was opened by H.E. Prof. Doutor Eng. Jorge Olivio Penicela Nhambiu, Minister of Science and Technology, Higher Education and Professional Technicians. In his opening remarks, Prof. Nhambiu expressed his “sincere thanks to NEPAD Agency ABNE for the efforts to support the establishment of functional national biosafety system in Mozambique through technical support.” He further stated that “Biotechnology is an area of great potential for solving the various challenges of modern society and rural communities, especially in the area of Agriculture. Therefore, recognizing the potential that this component has, together with the need to regulate its use, after formalizing different inherent legislation, the Biosafety Regulation on the Management of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) was approved.” The development and use of GMOs in the country are regulated by Decree No. 6/2007...

First International Biosafety Short Course implemented in Nigeria

NEPAD Agency ABNE in partnership with the National Biosafety Management Agency of Nigeria (NBMA), the Godfrey Okoye University (GOUni), Michigan State University (MSU) and the Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS), successfully implemented an international biosafety short course at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, Nigeria, from 16 – 18 July, 2018. Participants were drawn from various relevant stakeholder institutions such as biotechnology and biosafety agencies, academia and research institutions, as well as the media and women groups. The main objective of this short course was to empower important stakeholders with current information on the safe management of biotechnology for socio-economic development. It also sought to provide a platform for networking among key actors to foster inter-agency collaborations and to increase awareness among key actors on their role, and the significance of having functional regulatory systems for biotechnology. Official welcome and opening remarks were given by Prof. Edwin Onyeneje, Deputy Vice Chancellor of GOUni; Dr Rufus Ebegba, Director General of NBMA; Prof. Karim Maredia, Director of the World Technology Access Program at MSU; Dr Mathew Dore, Nigeria Country Leader for PBS; Dr. Ojuolape Solanke, West African Health Organization (WAHO); Dr. Jeremy T. Ouedraogo, Director of NEPAD Agency ABNE; Prof. Uche Ebe, Enugu State Commissioner for Education; and Prof. Engr. Patrick E. Ikpenwa, Enugu State Commissioner for Science and Technology. All interveners welcomed participants to the biosafety short course and congratulated GOUni for this important feat. Prof. Edwin Onyeneje said that GOUni was particularly honored to host such an important event and thanked all partners who contributed to make this happen. Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo highlighted that “through this activity, the NEPAD Agency would...

WEST AFRICA REGIONAL PLATFORM FOR STRENGTHENING CAPACITY FOR REGULATING VECTOR CONTROL TECHNOLOGIES

The NEPAD Agency has initiated regional consultations on the establishment of a regional integrated vector management platform beginning with the ECOWAS region. The Agency is collaborating with the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) to establish the regional platform which is being designed by experts from member states within the ECOWAS region. The consultative meeting brought together environmental regulators, health regulators, members of ethics committees and malaria control programme managers from six West African countries, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal. The main objective of the consultation was to examine a draft scope and approach document of the West Africa Integrated Vector Management Platform (WAIVMP), and to plan its roll-out in the region. In his opening remarks, Prof. Aggrey Ambali, Head of NEPAD Agency’s Industrialization, Science, Technology and Innovation programme welcomed participants and thanked them for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend the consultative meeting. He thanked experts, various stakeholders and AU and NEPAD colleagues for contributing to the work of the AU High Level Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET), which has recommended ten emerging technologies for the socio-economic development of the continent. In her welcome remarks Mrs. Mimi Darko, CEO of the Ghana Food and Drugs Authority thanked the NEPAD Agency for choosing Accra as the venue for the consultative meetings and reiterated the importance of a collective decision in establishing a platform for integrated vector control and management, which will be owned be member states in the region. Prof Ambali explained IVM as a strategy by the WHO member states which was adopted last year. The IVM he said, calls for strengthened...

ABNE’s side event during the African Innovation Summit 2018

NEPAD Agency African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) held a side event on biosafety capacity building in Africa during the African Innovation Summit, on 7 June in Kigali, Rwanda. The objective of the event was to highlight NEPAD Agency’s contribution to ongoing efforts at creating conducive environments for the development and management of emerging technologies for socio-economic development in Africa. Co-chaired by Hon. Dr Gérardine Mukeshimana, Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources of Rwanda and Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD Agency, the event also served as a commemorative milestone of a decade of ABNE service delivery to AU member states and Regional Economic Communities. In his welcome remarks, Dr Mayaki stated that “The advent of modern biotechnology, while presenting new tools and techniques for crop improvement, continues to raise safety concerns to human health and the environment, and thus the relevance of regulation. There is the need to adopt a co-evolutionary approach by which the function of regulation is to promote innovation while at the same time safeguard human health and the environment.” “It was within this context that the African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology resolved over a decade ago to develop a 20-year Biotechnology strategy with specific technology goals that would be implemented through regional economic communities. Today the landscape regarding the regulatory systems looks much more different than was the case 5 years ago. This could be attributed to improved knowledge and understanding emanating from improved capacity in the management of the technology. And this is why ABNE is a critical space, instrument and mechanism in forging a conducive environment and providing...

Reports on emerging technologies officially launched at the African Innovation Summit

Advances in modern technologies are occurring at an accelerating pace, ranging from the fields of robotics, nanotechnology and biotechnology to materials science and artificial intelligence. Globally, these technologies are bringing about transformation in all dimensions of life, and this provides an opportunity for Africa to harness these technologies to advance its socio-economic development agenda and position itself as a frontrunner in the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR). Hence, on 08 June 2018, three reports were launched by Ms Clare Akamanzi, CEO of Rwanda Development Board and the African Union (AU) High Level Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET) at the Africa Innovation Summit II held in Kigali, Rwanda. The reports focus on malaria control and elimination, increasing Africa’s agricultural productivity and enhancing Africa’s energy security. Recognising the role of science, technology and innovation, the APET was established by the AU to provide advice on emerging technologies and has since identified three emerging technologies that have the potential to benefit Africa; (i) Gene Drives for Malaria Control and Elimination in Africa; (ii) Drones on the Horizon: Transforming Africa’s Agriculture; and (iii) Micro-grids: Empowering Communities and Enabling Transformation in Africa. In addition, APET has called for functional regulatory systems at national and regional levels. Speaking during the official launch of the three reports, Ms Clare Akamanzi commended the High Level Panel for the achievement of this milestone. She further reiterated Rwanda government’s commitment and urged other Member States to harness emerging technologies for accelerated socio-economic transformation of the continent. Ms Akamanzi was speaking on behalf of His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and Chair of the African Union. Chair of the High...