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...

Biosafety Capacity Building Needs Assessment in Zimbabwe

AUDA-NEPAD ABNE carried out a mission to assess the status of biosafety in Zimbabwe, from 15-16 August, 2019 in Harare. The mission was led by Dr. Tinga Jeremy Ouedraogo, Director of ABNE, accompanied by Dr. Woldeyesus Sinebo, ABNE Senior Programme Officer. This mission is a follow-up of an official request from the National Biotechnology Authority (NBA) of Zimbabwe for technical support from AUDA-NEPAD to explore, introduce and adopt modern biotechnology in order to enhance agricultural productivity, encourage biotech-based business development and stimulate sustainable socio-economic development in the country. The mission started with a meeting with NBA representatives to understand NBA’s mandate, vision, mission, organizational structure, current state of things and future expectations and to look into the National Biosafety Framework. A meeting was also held with delegates of Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Higher & Tertiary Education, Science, Technology and Development (HTESTD). The Director of ABNE made shared information on the mandate of the institution, which was followed by discussions. The Parliamentary Committee after raising a few questions appreciated the initiative by AUDA-NEPAD/ABNE and made a plea for ABNE to deepen its engagement in Zimbabwe and to increase its visibility in the country. The Parliamentarians assured their support to ABNE to make ABNE’s intervention in Zimbabwe effective. ABNE team also met with government officials from the Department of Research and Specialist Services (DR & SS) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization & Irrigation Development; officials from the Ministry of Environment, Tourism & Hospitality Industry; and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of HTESTD. Topics discussed during these meetings included previous experiences of Zimbabwe with GM crop testing, the existing legal...

Capacity building in Uganda on the Development of Biosafety Regulations for the implementation of the Genetic Engineering Regulatory Act

A two-day consultative and training Workshop was held from 23rd-24th June, 2019, in Kampala, Uganda to enhance the safe development, transfer, application, importation and utilization of genetically engineered materials. The Government of Uganda established a Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) on recognizing Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) is key to the country’s socio-economic growth and transformation. Premised on the resolve that Technology and Innovation development is an important determinant of progress and transition, the Ministry is mandated to provide over all Policy Guidance and Coordination for scientific research, development and the whole National Innovation System in Uganda. Its establishment came in at a time when the Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill was ready for presentation before parliament for discussions and subsequent passage into law. A process which the ministry managed throughout up to the passage and now it lays before the President for the final assent. With the conclusion of that process, it is almost certain that it is the ministry to be the competent Authority in regard to GMO development, and regulation. With a team of nearly new staff as a reason of its infancy, the ministry faces the challenge of lack of capacity in matters of Biotechnology, and other emerging technologies especially in the field of Biosciences and their Regulation. This challenge would also present difficulties in the development of implementing regulations to the law once the President assents to it. This lack of adequate capacity prompted the ministry to ask of AUDA-NEPAD/ABNE to support the enhancement of the capacity of its staff in the aspects of Biotechnology and other emerging technologies especially in the field...

Information Sharing and Sensitization Seminar on Biotechnology and Biosafety for Members of Parliament in Senegal

The National Biosafety Authority of Senegal, “Autorité Nationale de Biosécurité (ANB)”, in partnership with AUDA-NEPAD African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) organized an information sharing and sensitization seminar on biotechnology and biosafety for the Senegalese Members of Parliament (MPs), from 6 – 7 July, 2019, at Saly Portudal, M’bour region. . The seminar aimed to equip the MPs with science-based information on modern biotechnology and biosafety and to provide an opportunity for them to hold preliminary discussions on the provisions on draft revised biosafety law that will be soon presented before the Parliament for adoption. We recall that the Government of Senegal, with the support of AUDA-NEPAD ABNE, started in 2015 the process of revising its 2009 biosafety law that was found to be limiting the functionality of the country biosafety system. Up to forty (40) MPs effectively attended the seminar. In his opening remarks, Hon. Cheikh Seck, Chairman of the Select Committee stressed that “the precautionary principle which should have encouraged measured actions in the area of biotechnology has finally proven to be a principle of inaction. However, in order to face uncertainties, it is compelling to develop research programs in order to provide answers and lessen doubts. It is obvious that scientific evidence only remains the sources for relevant answers to unknowns. Therefore we should not hinder science for the sake of the comfort of maintaining status quo situations. It is then appears necessary, if not urgent, to revisit the Senegalese biosafety law in order to make it operational, implementable and efficient.” Sound scientists and biosafety experts from national institutions and from AUDA – NEPAD ABNE introduced...

African Biosafety Regulators Improve their Knowledge on Genome Editing Regulations and Establish the African Union Biosafety Regulators Forum

As part of COP-MOP intersessional activities, AUDA-NEPAD ABNE and the AU Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology organised a consultation and training on Genome Editing and a Post-UN Biodiversity Conference 2018 Review Meeting, from 25 – 28 June, 2019 in Addis Ababa. Following the recommendation made by the AU member states in September 2018, that the AU biosafety regulators forum be established, the said platform was constituted on 28 June, 2019. The gathering brought together 60 participants (regulators and scientists) from 31 AU member States. In his opening remarks, Nicholas Omondi Ouma, on behalf of Dr Mahama Ouedraogo, Director of the African Union Commission Department of Human Resource, science and Technology welcomed the participants and said that “the technical and policy issues pertaining to the application of genome edition is a critical conversation to have. It is therefore in this regard that the AU Commission is supporting this important initiative by our implementing partners at AUDA through the ABNE Program in the preparation of this training”. This meeting had two main components; the first one concerned the capacity building aspect and the second one, on the last day, was dedicated to the COP-MOP follow-up and the establishment of the African Biosafety Regulatory Forum. The last COP-MOP discussions in Egypt focused on emerging technologies like gene drive, genome editing and synthetic biology and the African Group of Negotiators expressed the need for capacity strengthening in these areas. AUDA-NEPAD and AUC initiated this meeting to respond to this request and strengthen the capacity of African regulators on genome editing first, while planning for training on other emerging technologies before the...