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...

Biosafety high level consultative meeting in Nairobi

The NEPAD Agency African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) in conjunction with the Program for Biosafety Systems and The National Biosafety Authority held a high policy Consultation in Nairobi, on 12th May, 2017 to discuss the process regarding the handling of biosafety dossiers in Kenya. This meeting brought together stakeholders including Kenya National Biosafety Authority (NBA), the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Organization (KALRO), the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Ministry of Agriculture, and Kenya Plant health inspectorate Service (KEPHIS). The Principal Secretary from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, and representatives from the office of the Deputy President was also in attendance. In 2016, the NBA gave a conditional approval for Bt maize and Bt cotton applications for general release and recommended that they commence the National Performance Trials (NPT) under auspices of KEPHIS. One of the key conditions was that the applicant should conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of experimental sites and submits report to NEMA for approval before conducting the NPT. The applicant submitted the EIA report as required but to date no decision has been made on the NPT. The representative of the NEMA emphasized that the EIA report should be site specific not combined report as it was submitted by the applicant. Delegates from South Africa response gave a different view on the issue of EIA as requested by NBA through NEMA that in South Africa EIA is only required for the crops that are indigenous and that thus far all the approval already given in South Africa, no...

Deliberations on Biosafety Capacity Development in Africa

NEPAD Agency’s African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE), in partnership with Croplife, the International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) programme for Biosafety Systems, together with other partners, organised a Stakeholders’ Coordination Meeting on Biosafety Capacity Development in Africa from May 3-4, 2017, in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Attended by about 50 participants, the meeting was officially opened by Mr Akwa Patrick Kum Bong, Secretary General of the Ministry of Environment and the Protection of Nature in Cameroon. “The current trend is to use modern technologies in agriculture, pharmaceuticals and related sectors. That is why we think this meeting is very useful for Cameroon. We currently have a biosafety project that builds the capacity of Cameroonians in the handling of biosafety in the country. This project will build both human and infrastructure capacity in the country with the support of partners,” the Secretary General said. The objective of the meeting was to bring together leading biotechnology and biosafety stakeholders, as well as providers of technical assistance to share experiences and analyse the key capacity building needs and emerging challenges regarding the development and implementation of workable regulatory frameworks, both at national and sub-regional levels across the continent. The meeting also aimed to strengthen alignment among biosafety service providers and stakeholders to build future collaborative efforts in biosafety capacity development, in addition to identifying actions and responsibilities among partners to implement functional biosafety regulations in...

Biosafety Capacity Strengthening in Ethiopia

NEPAD Agency ABNE, in partnership with the Ethiopian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and COMESA/ACTESA, organized a biosafety training workshop for regulators, researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders from 10 – 13 April 2017 in Addis Ababa. The workshop was officially opened by Dr. Gemedo Dale, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Fifty-nine participants drawn from various institutions attended the training workshop. The training provided insights on the amended biosafety proclamation and biosafety directives, the procedures for approval for CFT of a GM crop event focusing on environmental risk assessment for CFT, the procedures for approval for environmental release of a GM crop event and GM crop variety for cultivation, and the environmental and food safety risk assessment of a GM crop event for deregulation. Regulating modern agricultural biotechnology, especially genetically engineered crops requires involvement of and close collaboration and interaction among important inter-sectoral actors that includes personnel from ministries such as environment, agriculture, industry, trade, health, education and justice and also various research institutions in the country. The training workshop brought personnel from these diverse institutions. Ethiopia has made significant progress in the development and implementation of a workable biosafety regulation over the last few years. The country has amended its Biosafety Proclamation and revised its Biosafety Directives. This has enabled Ethiopia to conduct field trials of Bt cotton in the main cropping season of 2016. Bringing regulators and other important stakeholders in a single biosafety training forum would, in addition to imparting skills on biotechnology regulation, enhance interaction and consensus building and, in the end, help achieve...

Functional biosafety systems enable safe development of biotechnology in Swaziland

NEPAD Agency ABNE in partnership with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Swaziland Environmental Authority organized a training workshop on Risk Analysis and Regulatory Compliance Monitoring and Inspection for GMOs, from 27-29 March, 2017 in Ezulwini, Swaziland. The objectives of the training were to build capacity of the Swaziland Environmental Authority on Risk Analysis covering assessment, management and communication aspects. Twenty-five biosafety regulators and research officers took part in this training workshop. In his official opening remarks Mr. Isaac Dladla, the Acting Executive Director of the Swaziland Environment Authority (SEA), described the training as timely coming at a time when Swaziland was preparing for a parliamentary hearing on the draft amended biosafety Act. In his remarks, Seemilo Mavimbela, representing the Chairperson of the National Biosafety Advisory Council (NBAC), said his organization’s role was to advise SEA on biosafety issues to find a balance between environmental protection and the safe use of modern biotechnology. He said the NBAC had advised on the approval of field trials on Bt cotton in 2016 and thus the workshop would further enhance confidence for similar advice. The Principal Program Officer at the NEPAD/ Africa Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE), Dr. Silas Obukosia, underlined that Malawi, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Swaziland are in advanced stages of approving agri-biotech products. “This progress requires continuous regulatory capacity building, and this workshop is part of that capacity building objective in Swaziland,” he added. COMESA Senior Biotechnology Policy Advisor Dr. Getachew Belay commended Swaziland for the progress it has made in creating an enabling policy and regulatory environment The workshop included field visits to Bt...

NEPAD Agency CEO visits NEPAD’s West Africa Regional Office

NEPAD Agency CEO, Dr Ibrahim Hassane Mayaki, paid a visit to NEPAD’s West Africa regional office in Dakar on the sideline of the tenth joint annual meetings of the African Union Specialized Technical Committee on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration and the Economic Commission for Africa’s Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, which was to take place from 23 to 28 March, 2017. The CEO was accompanied by Ms Sarah Lawan, Lead Manager of The Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa and Ms Pamla Gopaul from the Office of the CEO. Dr. Mayaki was welcomed by Dr. Jeremy Ouedraogo, Head of the Regional Office and some of the NEPAD staff in Dakar. This visit was an opportunity for the CEO to see the new premises which staff will be moving to by the end of March, 2017. Dr Mayaki, expressed his satisfaction with the new office and encouraged staff to continue to closely work with the head office for more effectiveness and visibility of NEPAD action in the...

Meeting with the Committee for Science and Technology of the Uganda Parliament

NEPAD Agency ABNE was invited to present its views on the Uganda National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill 2012 (NBBB), to the Committee for Science and Technology of the Uganda Parliament (PCST) in North Wing of the Parliament Building. The team was led by Sunday Akile, the legal expert accompanied by Silas Obukosia and Wolde Sinebo. They took the opportunity of this presentation to highlight the strengths of the bill that is clearly in line with international related protocols and also with Agenda 2063 as a collective vision and roadmap of the African Union for the next fifty years. The content of the presentation also included the role of ABNE in biosafety in Africa, the definition and interpretation of NBBB, the institutional Framework, the separation of greenhouse/laboratory approval from CFT, MLTs and general release approval, provisions on expedited reviews of applications, risk and safety assessment, restoration order, period taken for a determination to be made on an application. Concurrent with ABNE presentation were presentations from the Uganda Cotton Development Authority (CDA) and Uganda National Environment Management Agency (NEMA). Uganda scientific community has been struggling to get the revised biosafety bill passed since 2012, to allow safe and effective implementation of biotechnology and biosafety in the country. Uganda is one of the African countries that have done the most diverse and successful confined field trials (CFT) of genetically modified food commodities. CFTs implemented in the country mainly target banana, maize, cassava, cotton, rice, and Irish potato. Yet these trials could not go beyond this stage, as the existing law in the country allows only the conduct of GMO research. It does...