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.

Group photo of the ABNE delegates with University staff

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 appreciation for the visit and welcomed everyone.
Dr. J. T. Ouedraogo, in his response, appreciated the warm welcome. He stated that the mandate of AU-NEPAD is to provide support towards the development of Africa, in view of which, ABNE supports the establishment of functional biosafety regulatory systems in Africa. Co-evolvement of biotechnology and biosafety is very essential to safely harnessing the benefits of biotechnology. He mentioned that NEPAD Agency ABNE offers various services including partnering with African institutions to deliver biosafety short courses. He stated that the objective of the mission was to dialogue and to obtain answers to key questions towards ensuring the success of the program and its sustainability. He emphasized that the strategy is to organize one course per year through collaboration with partners for three (3) consecutive years, and subsequently, the host institution would fully own the running of the course. He mentioned that similar courses had been held in universities in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Uganda previously, which were successful but were not sustainable. It was therefore essential to critically address issues that will ensure its sustainability in Nigeria.
In supporting remarks, Samuel Timpo recalled the earlier support provided by NEPAD Agency ABNE and Michigan State University (MSU) through the participation of two representatives of the Godfrey Okoye University in an international biosafety short course. He also mentioned that the long term goal is to institutionalize self-sustaining biosafety capacity building in Africa in partnership with local institutions. He expressed the need to mainstream biosafety capacity building in the curriculum to ensure that the younger generation is well informed.
The VC reaffirmed the readiness of GOU to host the programme but stressed that sustainability would be key to achieving success. The meeting was followed by a special edition of a round-table discussion anchored by the GOU broadcasting unit, which featured the ABNE Team, was hosted on the University’s radio station.