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.

From left to right : Colonel Major Mahamadou SEYDOU MAGAGI, Director of CNESS, M. Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou, Minister and ‘Directeur de Cabinet’ of the President of the Republic of Niger, and Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo, Head of AUDA-NEPAD Regional Office for West Africa.

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 for inter-ministerial actions in the biosafety area. “The national biosafety strategy envisions to broaden the scope of the legal and institutional framework to take account of all aspects of biosafety and biosecurity so that Niger people can have access to safe food and safe environment”, he added.
Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo, on behalf of AUDA-NEPAD CEO, congratulated Niger for its move towards fulfilling its commitments with respect to the domestication and application of the international biosafety conventions and treaties. He added that “this meeting today marks almost the end of a process started in April 2019 to strengthen the national biosafety legal and policy framework. This process has been very dynamic and particularly intense and the African Union Development Agency has always been proud to support every decisive step in this journey. It is this set of concerted actions, initiated and conducted within the framework of this partnership with CNESS that has led to the results and highly strategic products that the people of Niger are about to endorse today.”

A view of the of the participants with high level government officials

During the meeting, the draft strategy document was presented in a plenary session. Participants were then divided into three thematic groups (context and diagnosis, strategic direction, and implementing strategy) to scrutinize the document for improvement. In a final plenary, reports on groups’ work were presented and clarifications were brought to concerns raised.
At the end of the meeting, participants unanimously praised the quality and relevance of the strategy document and officially endorsed it. The next step in principle will be its adoption by the Cabinet before its implementation on the ground.