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...

Training Workshop on Biotechnology Products Application Evaluation in Namibia

NEPAD Agency ABNE in partnership with the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST) organized a training workshop on mock application evaluation of biotechnology products from 17 – 22 September, 2017 for Namibian regulators and stakeholders. The main objective of the workshop was to build the capacity of Namibian regulators on the basic concepts of assessing genetically modified organisms (GMO) applications and to equip Namibian regulators with the necessary tools for the handling of GMO applications. Twenty participants took part in this training, including regulators from the Biosafety secretariat and legal secretariat, the Biosafety council members, technical experts from in line ministries and from Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency. Through this workshop, the participants were successfully introduced to science background of the GMOs technologies, basic concepts of administrative handling of biosafety applications and they were able to understand the concept of risk analysis in the decision making pathways. The training also enhanced their capacity with regard to conducting risk assessment of GMOs and to review applications based on scientific evidence and socioeconomic considerations. As per its mandate to provide technical support for the implementation of functional regulatory systems in African countries, ABNE is committed to continuing building the capacity of Namibian regulators in the biosafety area. Future interventions will include giving in-depth understanding of food/feed safety assessment, environmental risk assessment and training media practitioners in biosafety...

NEPAD Agency CEO, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Wins the African Agriculture Leadership Award 2017

NEPAD Agency CEO, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki is the winner of the 2017 African Agriculture Leadership Award, awarded by the Indian Council of Food and Agriculture (ICFA) in New Delhi, India. “I am pleased to convey the decision of the National Organising Committee of 10th Global Agriculture Leadership Awards 2017, which met in New Delhi on Aug 1, 2017, under the Chairmanship of Prof. MS Swaminathan, Father of India’s Green Revolution, to confer upon you the African Agriculture Leadership Award 2017 for your pioneering work spanned over three decades towards empowering African farm and farmers through innovative policies, promoting agriculture research, investments, technology development, partnerships and international cooperation, which have positively impacted the lives of large number of farmers in African continent”, said Dr. MJ Khan, Chairman of ICFA. Agriculture Leadership Awards were launched in 2008 to recognize the leadership roles played by individuals and institutions, which are positively impacting the lives of farmers and rural masses. The Awards are presented in different areas including Policy, Research, Extension, Farming, Industry, Environment, Innovations, Entrepreneurship, CSR, Development, Life Time Achievements, International Policies and State Leaderships. Congratulations to NEPAD CEO for this recognition and for his effective leadership in spurring development initiatives across the African...

A new African Biosafety Communication Network to optimize efforts in the biosafety communication sector

Under the auspices of NEPAD Agency ABNE, an African Biosafety Communication Network was launched on 18 July, 2017 in Entebbe during the Africa Ag-biotech and Biosafety Communication (ABBC) symposium. The launching ceremony was chaired by Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo, Director of NEPAD Agency’s West Africa Regional Office in Dakar. It was co-chaired by Dr. Charles Mugoya, Chair of the Uganda National Biosafety Committee, Dr Theresa Ssengoba from the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology, Dr Douglas Buhler, Director/Assistant Vice-president and Administrative leader of Michigan State University AgBioResearch, and Margaret Karembu, Director of ISAAA Africenter. Around 60 people, including government officials, communications specialists, NBC representatives and staff from various biosafety service providers in Africa took part in this event. “After almost a decade of biosafety capacity enhancing to help build functional biosafety regulatory systems across the continent, NEPAD Agency ABNE is now strategically focusing on fostering proactive initiatives through specific experts networks to help African countries safely harness science technology and innovation opportunities. The communication network we are establishing today come after a successful implementation of other networks, namely the lawyers network, the food and feed safety network, the environmental network and the socioeconomic network recently established in Accra”, said Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo in his opening remarks. “This network is very timely, as Uganda’s parliament is preparing to pass the biosafety bill and we look forward to working with the members of this network to improve public understanding of biosafety in the country”, said Dr. Charles Mugoya. The key objectives of the African biosafety communication network are: to identify and support key biosafety media specialists in African countries and help...

Workshop on GMO Dossier Review for African Regulators, and Launch of NEPAD-ABNE Biosafety Socioeconomic Resource Network

Workshop on GMO Dossier Review for African Regulators, and Launch of NEPAD-ABNE Biosafety Socioeconomic Resource Network NEPAD Agency African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE), in partnership with the Michigan State University (MSU), organized a 5-day workshop on GMO dossier review for African regulators from June 26 – 30, 2017 in Accra, Ghana. The workshop sought to technically capacitate participants in the evaluation of biosafety application dossiers to enable them make science-based recommendations for consideration by competent national authorities during decision-making. It was attended by biosafety regulators from eight African countries: Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Swaziland, and Uganda. During a brief opening ceremony, Dr. Jeremy Ouedraogo, Head of NEPAD Agency ABNE stressed the importance of having functional biosafety systems noting that they would provide an adequate level of safety in accessing new beneficial products. He also noted that the meeting was a key step in creating a platform that will foster cooperation towards attaining future joint reviews and mutual recognition of environmental and food safety assessment reports within biosafety systems in regional economic communities. Michigan State University’s WorldTap Programme Director, Dr. Karim Maredia, in mentioning their long standing tradition of working with countries in Africa, pledged MSUs continued support in availing global resources to ensure a critical mass of assessors with the necessary skills and tools to be able to conduct science-based risk assessment on applications. At the end of the training participants indicated strengthened competencies in discharging their mandate. Beyond the training, the resource networks from which participants were drawn – environmental biosafety and food safety resource networks – are expected to serve as support mechanisms for...

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...