Stakeholders Vow To Back Continent’s Genome Editing Efforts With Effective Communication and Advocacy Strategy
(October 17, 2023, Mombasa, Kenya) :- The private sector and key partners of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) have expressed their determination to support Africa’s Genome Editing (GEd) efforts with the right and proper communication strategy.
The partners said that genome editing is an emerging technological tool key to realize sustainable agriculture in Africa.
The stakeholders expressed this at the opening of a Strategic Meeting with Key Constituencies and the Private Sector on GEd Communication and Advocacy organized by the Centre of Excellence in Science, Technology, and Innovation of the AUDA-NEPAD, held in Mombasa, Kenya, 17– 19 October 2023.
Opening the stakeholders meeting, Director of the Biotechnology Research Institute of the Kenyan Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) Martin Kiogora Mwirigi (PhD) said that as agriculture has passed a series of revolutions since antiquity, Africa has not benefited from the global technological advancements and now the continent has to seize the opportunities that have come in relation to the modern tools of genome editing.
“It is time for us Africans to harnessing the genetic resources we have for the development of the agricultural sector in Africa instead of domiciling of the precious time we have,” Dr. Mwirigi added.
According to Dr. Mwirigi, Africa is lagging behind with regard to making use of the opportunities accessible in this modern world and the continent, through the guidance of AUDA-NEPAD, needs to move forward in the right direction of achieving the African vision of 2023 – The Africa We Want- counting the opportunity of genome editing that we have on hand tackling the challenges in the continent.
Mrs. Florence Nazare, AUDA-NEPAD Acting Director of Knowledge Management and Programme Evaluation on her part said that the science and practice of genome editing is supposed to be linked with the right communication and advocacy tools so as to maximizing benefits out of the technology of genome editing.
She urged the participants to attach greater importance to the development and implementation of a clear-cut communication approaches to achieve the desirable goals in the use of genome editing technology in Africa.
Ms. Rebecca Arunga, representative of the NEPAD-APRM Kenya Secretariat noted that African researchers and stakeholders have started and continue to enrich and mould the lives of Africans through Genome editing which will revolutionize agriculture in our continent but it also raises social questions.
She said that the NEPAD/APRM Kenya Secretariat remains committed to continuously support in the coordination and facilitation of all AUDA NEPAD programmes and projects in Kenya and is on the fore front of championing the implementation of the African Union Agenda 2063.
The agenda has the element of transforming African agriculture to enable the continent feed itself and be a major player as a key net exporter, she added.
“This technology has raised some social questions which can only be addressed by coming up with ways to foster a broader understanding of modern biotechnology focusing on Genome Editing among different stakeholder groups through communication and advocacy for enhanced uptake of the tool to optimize agriculture in Africa and also broadly in the realization of Agenda 2063,” she underlined.
She also encouraged the AUDA NEPAD to fast track the establishment of the Centre of Excellence on Human Capital and Institutions Development which is one of the five centres of excellence which they have plans to set up in Nairobi, Kenya so that it can establish Research and Development units to drive new innovations on food production and industrialization.
The AUDA-NEPAD was established in 2010 to integrate the then New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) into African Union (AU) structures and processes and, in 2019, NEPAD became the African Union Development Agency.