Biotechnology in Africa

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It is no secrete today that Africa’s history has been marked by a development narrative in which benefits from Science, Technology and Innovation has been enjoyed by a few.

And now that African Governments have launched their National Biotechnology Awareness Strategy, we wait to see the mileage Africa is making towards becoming Biotechnology continent.

Just like other parts of the world, biotechnology should be viewed by African’s as a tool or facet of development not as a concept of the West, as it is construed.

One of the bottlenecks in the spread of Biotechnology in Africa is lack of accurate information and knowledge. However, it also remains a quagmire how faster the continent will understand and comply with the concept of Biotechnology.

Nonetheless, many African countries have had the notion that Biotechnology and more so the development of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) is a western culture that will be imposed on Africans.

This is not true and scientist should convince us the same.

Even as food security, Nutrition, Healthcare and Environmental sustainability send signals of threat to African continent, it is in the interest of Africans to realize the merits of Biotechnology and embrace it as available choice out of poverty that decrepit Africa continent.

At this point in time, regional Biotechnology efforts have a role to play and can be implemented through long-term Biotechnology missions.

The African scientists have a task here. They ought to be on the front to champion the importance of Biotechnology by addressing the problems of food security, healthcare and environmental sustainability. It is not an easy task even though.

And the so called African scientists (elites) should embrace regional innovation communities and local innovation areas to address the issue of Biotech.

Good news however is that already some parts of Africa, for instance Southern Africa are experiencing and practicing regional innovative communities inform of regional economics integrations.

Regional economics integrations are used as institutional vehicle for mobilizing, sharing and using existing scientific and technological capacities, including human and financial resources as well as physical infrastructure for development.

However, Africa’s ability to effectively use emerging and existing Biotechnologies depend on variety of factors and largely on the level of investment in building human institutions and societal capacities.

It is indeed critical for the third world African continent, and where specific focus should be on creating and reforming the available knowledge-based institutions like universities.

It is therefore important that Africa and Africans must have the prerequisites of what it takes to realize full importance and adopting Biotechnology.

Africa must go Biotech. to save itself and the continent through its scientists who should address the following;  improved commercialization and business capacity, through fostered research and development at all levels, emphasize the role of technology for SME’s development policy, enactment of business policies that enhance business development and incubations and creation of market infrastructure for economic development.

African continent need to identify specific Biotechnology priority areas for regional Research and Development and product development.

The continent also needs to expand and create infrastructure development programmes to help Biotechnology opportunities that arise,

Development and expansion of National and Regional human capacities like continental biotechnology curriculum on specific areas and targets, more female recruitments in the sciences and university research consortiums that offer regional biotechnology training courses.

It is by Africans and for Africa that the concept of biotechnology should be internalized, adopted and made part of the continent’s vehicle of future prosperity in terms of food security, healthcare, nutrition and environmental sustainability to mitigate against poverty.

The achievements of the global Millennium Development Goals for the African continent revolve around biotechnology.

What is your opinion on the topic?
Joseph Abuje
Talk to Abuje at [email protected]
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