CAPACITY STRENGTHENING ON BIOSAFETY COMMUNICATION AND REPORTING FOR MEDIA PRACTITIONERS, 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...

Niger Parliament Approves the National Biosafety Law

Niger Parliament approved the country biosafety law in a plenary session on 17 October, 2019 in Niamey. Among others, this law provides for safety measures in research and development with respect to modern biotechnology, and for transboundary movement of living modified organisms (LMOs) and products thereof. It also includes provisions for risk assessment, risk management and risk communication concerning living modified organisms or other modern biotechnology products. “This law allows us to honour our commitments to the international community, thereby improving the living conditions of our citizens”, said Mr. Almoustapha Garba, Minister in charge of the environment. He added that ”at the government level, everything will be done to ensure a prompt adoption of the implementing measures and to ensure the strengthening of the capacities of the various services responsible for their application to the benefit of the people of Niger and of the humanity as a whole. The enforcement of this law is essential for biodiversity and the protection of the environment “. The adoption of this law comes after a series of capacity building activities undertaken by national institutions in charge of biosecurity and biosafety, with the support of the African Union Development Agency – NEPAD. Among these activities were an important stakeholder seminar on the biosafety bill organised in June, 2019 and a Parliamentarians’ technical seminar on the biosafety bill held in early October, 2019. Both of these meetings were initiated by the Ministry of Environment of Niger and the Centre National des Études Stratégiques et de Sécurité (CNESS) and were fully supported by AUDA-NEPAD through its specialized regulatory capacity building program, the African Biosafety Network...

Sensitization workshop for government Legal Officers and media on the Biosafety Act 2012 in Eswatini

African Union Development Agency – NEPAD ABNE in collaboration with the Eswatini Environmental Agency (EEA) and the ministry of tourism and Environmental Affair to organized a sensitization workshop for other government ministries legal officers and media on the Biosafety Act 2012 in the Kingdom of Eswatini. The parliament, through to the request from the grass root, requested the minister through the EEA to create an enabling regulatory environment with a functional biosafety system in the kingdom of eSwatini. The objectives of the trainings are, to capacitate the Judiciary in supports of the EEA of their role in case of litigation against government, to enhance media knowledge on science based biosafety communication. Twelve (12) government Legal Officers from different ministries participated in the Lawyers’ workshop while nine (9) journalists from the media houses in the Kingdom of eSwatini were involved in the media capacity enhancement training. The pre-meeting with the Permanent Secretary to the Minister of tourism and Environmental Affair signaled the government support for the capacity enhancement of the government legal officers and the media in the kingdom. A meeting with the Acting executive Director of the EEA prior to the training brought to bear the importance of the meetings and the timeliness for the legal fraternity in the kingdom to be introduce and capacitated on the Biosafety issues and first of its kind since the inception of the agency. During the meeting, many topical talks in the legal subjects were made, such as Basic science of biotechnology, biotechnology trends in African countries, legal instruments for the regulation of biosafety in modern biotechnology, status of global, regional biosafety regulation...

Niger Parliamentarians’ Technical Seminar on the country biosafety bill

African Union Development Agency – NEPAD, in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, the Centre National des Études Stratégiques et de Sécurité (CNESS) and the Parliament organised a technical seminar to discuss the biosafety bill provisions on 30 September, 2019, in Niamey. This workshop follows previous meetings organized by CNESS and the Ministry of Environment with the support of AUDA-NEPAD to sensitize stakeholders on biosafety issues. 50 participants attended the seminar including members of the Parliament Select Committee for Rural Development and Environment. The opening ceremony was chaired by Honourable Iro Sani, First Vice-President of the National Assembly. In his opening remarks, Hon. Iro Sani highlighted the importance of this meeting as it will “open discussions on the biosafety principles and their relevance for a country like Niger.” He added that “the Parliament will pay special attention to the outcomes of the meeting, hoping that they will serve as a basis for constructive discussions on the biosafety bill during the parliamentary session coming soon.” Dr Moussa Savadogo, AUDA-NEPAD Principal Programme Officer, on behalf of the Head of AUDA-NEPAD West Africa Regional Office, recalled that Niger is party to the Cartagena Protocol on biosafety and he congratulated the country for its active participation in the international negotiations that led to the adoption of protocol and in the subsequent meetings. He further stated that AUDA-NEPAD highly appreciates the efforts made so far by Niger Ministry of Environment and the whole Government to table to the Parliament such a draft biosafety bill that is modern and well balanced.” He stressed that the adoption of the biosafety bill has been long awaited and...

African Union Development Agency – AUDA-NEPAD opens office in Nairobi

The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) officially opened a Regional office for Eastern Africa in Nairobi, Kenya, on 16 September, 2019. This follows a decision by the African Heads of State and Government, who during the 31st Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit held in Mauritania in 2018, approved the transformation of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) into the African Union Development Agency (AUDA). During the 31st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State, an official decision was taken and approved to establish “African Union Development Agency” (AUDA-NEPAD) as the technical body of the African Union with its own legal identity, defined by its own statute. The current reforms at the AU are an affirmation by Member States of their commitment to the NEPAD Agency as the Union’s own instrument established to champion catalytic support to countries and regional bodies in advancing the implementation of the continent’s development vision – as articulated in the Seven Aspirations and 20 Goals of Africa Union Agenda 2063. A core aspect of the current reforms is to streamline and improve effectiveness and efficiency in delivery in the implementation of AU decisions, policies and programs across all AU organs and institutions. This calls for bringing AUDA-NEPAD services delivery closer to Member States and therefore the need to set up regional offices in Africa. As the African Union’s legitimate technical and implementation support Agency, the AUDA-NEPAD mandate highlights five key areas, namely: To coordinate and execute priority regional and continental projects to promote regional integration towards the accelerated realisation of Agenda 2063 ; to strengthen the capacity of...

Inauguration of a biosafety laboratory in Burkina Faso

The Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation, Prof. Alkassoum MAÏGA chaired the inauguration ceremony of the National Biosafety Laboratory on Monday, September 02, 2019 at the INERA-Kamboinsé premises in Ouagadougou. He had at his side two other Ministers namely Mr. Maurice Dieudonne BONANET, Minister of Urban Planning and Housing, Mr. Salif OUEDRAOGO, Minister of Agriculture and Hydro-Agricultural Development and Dr. Urbain Ibrahim COULIDIATI, Deputy Minister for Scientific Research and Innovation as well as high ranked officials including the CEO / DG of the National Scientific and Technology Research Center and the DG of the national Biosafety Agency. Also were present his Excellency Larlé Naba Tigré, MP and traditional chief, other honorable Members of the National Assembly and representatives of international and inter-African organizations, including the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD). Dr Moussa Savadogo represented AUDA-NEPAD at this important ceremony. In his opening remarks, Prof. Alkassoum MAÏGA, said that this jewel was fully financed by the State of Burkina Faso to the tune of 565,817,869 FCFA (~1,001,448 USD) through a loan agreement with the World Bank and equipped by the State with the support of WAEMU to the tune of 825,094,692 FCFA (~1,460,345 USD). He expressed his gratitude to the partners and paid tribute to the first authorities of the country for this important initiative. This laboratory ambitions to cover the sub-region and it is called to “provide quality services to countries who need it. To guarantee its independence, the laboratory is placed under the governance of the National Biosafety Agency. Given its technical platform, we are convinced that...