Needs Assessment Meeting towards Technical Support Services to the Biosafety Regulatory System in Rwanda

In recognition of NEPAD Agency African Biosafety Network of Expertise’s mandate to provide biosafety regulatory capacity building support to AU member states, the Government of Rwanda requested for technical support in developing a functional biosafety regulatory framework. To this end, a two-day meeting was held on May 31 – June 1, 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. Participants were drawn from the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), the Ministry of Agriculture, Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board, the Ministry of Health, the College of Science & Technology of the University of Rwanda, the Rwanda Development Board and the Ministry of Education. The meeting discussed the current state of biotechnology and biosafety in Rwanda, how agricultural biotechnology is regulated worldwide and in Africa, and the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in ensuring a functional biosafety regulatory system. With leadership from the REMA, a biosafety needs assessment was conducted subsequent to which a roadmap was developed detailing areas of technical cooperation with NEPAD Agency ABNE and outlining a system to ensure effective technical backstopping. Key among the identified priority areas of intervention was the need to review legal instruments including the draft biosafety policy, the biosafety law and regulations as well as the need to augment human resource capacity in...

Visit of G5 Sahel’s Permanent Secretary to the NEPAD Agency Regional Office in Dakar

The Permanent Secretary of G5 Sahel, Mr. Maman Sambo Sidikou, paid a courtesy call on the Head of the NEPAD Agency Regional Office in Dakar, Dr Jeremy Tinga Ouedraogo on 15 May, 2018. “G5 Sahel emanates from the African Union and is part of the security and development architecture leading to the effective fulfillment of Agenda 2063. Our goal is the well-being of the people of the Sahel, in its most fragile areas. NEPAD Agency is the partner of choice for G5 Sahel”, said Mr. Sidikou at the end of the visit. Mr Sidikou particularly commended the Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD, Dr Mayaki, and thanked him for offering to technically support the process of developing the G5 Sahel Action Plan in its economic and social development component. He stressed the importance of this support so that through the NEPAD Agency, the African Union is effectively involved in the ongoing process. He also extended his thanks to Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo and his team in Dakar. Technical teams are working together on the socio-economic development action G5 Sahel was created on February 16, 2014 in Nouakchott, in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, and has its headquarters in Mauritania. It brings together five Sahelian countries: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad. It contributes to the implementation of security and development actions in the Member States through strengthening peace and security in the G 5 Sahel area; development of transport, hydraulic, energy and telecommunications infrastructures; creating conditions for better governance in member countries; building resilience of people by ensuring sustainable food security, human development and...

NEPAD Agency’s Head of Regional Office Paid a Courtesy Call on the Minister of Integration, NEPAD, and Francophonie in Senegal

NEPAD Agency’s Head of West Africa Regional Office, Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo, paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Integration, NEPAD, and Francophonie, on 27th April, 2018, in Dakar, Senegal. H.E. Mbagnick Ndiaye, Minister of Integration, NEPAD, and Francophonie of Senegal, welcomed Dr Ouedraogo, and expressed his satisfaction with such a visit that will strengthen the collaboration between his Department and the NEPAD Agency’s regional office in Dakar. The Head of the Regional Office presented to the Minister the two major programmes of the office in Dakar; the Biosafety Programme led by the African Biosafety Network of Experts (ABNE) and the Great Green Wall Programme. He highlighted that on request of 20 African countries ABNE provided them with technical support to implement functional regulatory systems that would enable a safe use of new emerging technologies for local development. Other countries such as The Gambia, Madagascar, and Rwanda have showed interest in such support. Similarly the Great Green Wall is being implemented in Sahelian countries to combat desertification and improve African countries’ resilience vis-à-vis the effects of climate change. The regional office also relay information on all NEPAD Agency’s programmes for more visibility of the activities on the ground. In that regard, the regional office is planning to organize a sensitization workshop for the diplomatic bodies and international organizations present in Dakar. The Minister recalled that the Great Green Wall was the idea of a native of Senegal, the former President Abdoulaye Wade but to date people need to understand how the idea had evolved and what the achievements of this initiative n are so far. He also praised the...

Visit of the NEPAD Agency ABNE team to Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, Nigeria

NEPAD Agency ABNE, in collaboration with the Godfrey Okoye University (GOU), the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Michigan State University (MSU) and the Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS), plans to organize a biosafety short course scheduled to hold from 16th to 18th July, 2018 on the campuses of the Godfrey Okoye University in Enugu, Nigeria. The course seeks to empower lawyers, the media, policy- and decision-makers and other important stakeholders with current information on biotechnology and biosafety to enable them effectively support regulatory processes. As part of the planning process for the short course, a delegation from NEPAD Agency ABNE visited the host institution, Godfrey Okoye University Enugu, and held a meeting with the Vice Chancellor of the University, Rev. Fr. Prof. C. Anieke and other management staff on the 13th April, 2018. The NEPAD Agency ABNE was led by the Head of AU-NEPAD Regional Office in Dakar, Dr. Jeremy T. Ouedraogo with other members being Samuel Timpo and Modupe Adeyemo. In his welcome remarks, the Vice Chancellor of the University highlighted the journey of the institution till date. He mentioned that the institution was established in 2009 with two (2) Faculties but now has five (5) Faculties with plans for two (2) additional Faculties in the immediate future. He was pleased with the choice of the institution for hosting the Biosafety short course. He reiterated that the scholars of the institution are always available and willing to work hence there is assurance that the program will be a success. He added that the institution is a leading University in the field of biotechnology. He then expressed his sincere...

Signing of MoU and workshop on food safety assessment and environmental risk assessment in Namibia

NEPAD Agency ABNE and The National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST), responsible by law to administer the Biosafety Act 2006 (Act No. 7 of 2006), in Namibia, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for capacity building of the regulatory body with the international best practices and other regulatory technical partnership on 9 April, 2018, in Windhoek, Namibia. Dr. Jeremy T. Ouedraogo, led the NEPAD ABNE delegation while NCRST was represented by the Acting Chief Executive Officer Ms. Enid Keramen. In his opening speech, Dr. Ouedraogo affirmed that signing the MoU aligns with NEPAD Agency ABNE mandate and is meant to forge strategic partnership on biosafety that enables capacity strengthening of the Namibian regulators and other relevant stakeholders. In her response, Ms. Keramen said that NCRST equally recognize the importance of science, technology and innovation for national growth, sustainable development and competiveness that would translate into the improvement of socioeconomic standards of life. The Biosafety Act 2006 of Namibia provides measures to regulate the activities that involve the research, development, production, marketing, transportation, applications and other uses of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and specific products derived from these GMOs as they are harnessed safely. ABNE has the continental mandate to assist member states in developing capacity for a functional biosafety system that can receive, review applications and make decision on GMOs products. The signing of the MoU was followed by a workshop organised by ABNE and the National Biosafety Secretariat and took place in Swakopmund. Participants in the workshop include staff of the Biosafety secretariat (NCRST) and Biosafety council members as well as technical experts in line ministries...

A New Strategic Plan for Improved Technology Regulatory Support Services on the Ground

From 17 – 21 March 2018, ABNE staff held their annual meeting in Accra. The objective of this meeting was to assess the progress made and the needs for improvement in project implementation on the ground. The meeting also aimed to develop and adopt a robust and effective strategy plan to address all the needs and fill the gaps as to the provision of technical expertise for implementing functional biosafety systems in Africa. ABNE Director with POs during the meeting The meeting was opened by Prof Aggrey Ambali, Head of NEPAD’s Industrialisation, Science, Technology and Innovation Hub alongside with Dr. Jeremy Ouedraogo, Head of the NEPAD Regional Office in West Africa and Head of ABNE. Prof. Ambali welcomed all staff and especially the new ones, i.e. Ms Modupe Adeyemo, Food Safety Programme Officer, based in Dakar and Ms Agnes Amakie Gidimadzor, Administrative Assistant-Finance, based in Ouagadougou. He encouraged staff to make this meeting a success and come up with a sound strategy plan that will inform ABNE ‘s action for the coming years. During the meeting, clear vision, mission and values of ABNE were identified along with strategic objectives and priority areas of intervention. As an African-led program with a sound African Union mandate, NEPAD Agency ABNE, with this new strategic plan, ambitions to better serve the interests of African countries and the people in providing effective technology regulatory support services towards Africa’s socioeconomic...

Strengthening Stakeholders’ Capacity in Biosafety Communication in Cameroon

NEPAD Agency ABNE, in partnership with Cameroon Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development, organized a training workshop on Biosafety Communication from 29 – 30 November, 2017 in Yaounde. The workshop was officially opened by Mr. DAMOU LAMTOING Antoine, Technical Advisor to the Minister of Environment. On behalf of the Minister, he welcomed participants and presented the status of biosafety in Cameroon: “I thank NEPAD Agency ABNE for the techical support provided to Cameroon in the biosafety area in general and regarding the organization of the present workshop in particular”, he added. Dr Silas Obukosia, ABNE Principal Program Officer, on behalf of ABNE Director, thanked Cameroon government for inviting NEPAD Agency ABNE to the workshop and assured Cameroon authorities of ABNE’s availability to provide continuous technical support in the development and implementation of biosafety regulations in Cameroon. Around 100 regulators and stakeholders from relevant ministries, civil society organization, the cotton industry and the media took part in this workshop. ABNE experts and local biosafety specialists made presentations on various topics including the biosafety status in Cameroon, food safety basics, biosafety administration, biosafety communications principles and strategies, dealing with the anti-GM activism, the Biosafety Focal Point activities and the Biosafety Clearing House activities in Cameroon. Profusion of questions and comments from participants reflected their high interest in the topics developed and they openly expressed their gratitude to NEPAD Agency ABNE for this capacity building initiative. At the end of the meeting, participants initiated a local biosafety communications group that included mainly science/environment communications experts, and a WhatsApp platform was subsequently set up to facilitate information sharing in the...

ABNE’s Technical Advisory Committee Holds Annual Meeting in Addis Ababa

NEPAD Agency ABNE’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) held its annual meeting from 15 to 16 November, 2017 at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting was officially opened by the TAC Chairman, Dr Dave Keetch and with Mr. Hambani Masheleni, Senior Policy Officer, Human Resources, Science and Technology, African Union (AU), Mr. Lawrence Kent, Senior Programme Officer from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and Dr Douglas Buhler, Director of AgBioResearch and Assistant Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies at Michigan State University (MSU) also in attendance. In his opening remarks, Dr Keetch expressed his gratitude to the AU for hosting this year’s meeting and stated it was a privilege to once again meet with TAC members to assess the progress made by ABNE in the year 2017 and to provide the necessary guidance going forward. Mr Hambani Masheleni, on behalf of Dr Mahama Ouedraogo, Ag Director of the AU Human Resources, Science and Technology, welcomed his guests and assured the gathering that the AU would continue working closely with ABNE and would provide the continental policy platform support required by the ABNE programme for the implementation of functional biosafety regulatory systems in Africa. Mr. Lawrence Kent stated that the BMGF appreciates the impact made by the NEPAD Agency ABNE on the ground and values the strong commitment of the NEPAD leadership to ensure sustainability of the ABNE programme. Dr Buhler, affirmed MSU’s support for the ABNE initiative and expressed the University’s commitment to strengthen this partnership and continue providing technical support, through training courses and international study tours. During the meeting, TAC members...

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...