South African Minister of Science and Technology Mrs Naledi Pandor with Mr Daan du Toit, Deputy Director-General: International Cooperation and Resources at South African Department of Science and Technology (DST), Prof Aggrey Ambali, Head and Advisor of NEPAD Science, Technology and Innovation Hub (NSTIH) and other representatives attending the BioFISA II Launch.
Ambassador of Finland in South Africa, Mr Petri Salo
The NEPAD-SANBio BioFISA II Programme was launched by the Department of Science and Technology, NEPAD and Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland on the 8th of December 2015 at the CSIR International Conference Centre in Pretoria, South Africa, coinciding with The Science Forum. The launch was attended by the Minister of Science and Technology (RSA) Hon Naledi Pandor, DST, Mr. Petri Salo, Ambassador of Finland in South Africa, and Prof Aggrey Ambali, NEPAD Head of Science, Technology and Innovation Hub, Professor Thokozani Majozi, Chair of the CSIR Board, stakeholders from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as other partners.
SANBio activities and its supporting programmes are implemented on a regional multi-country basis outlined in the SANBio Business Plan, in line with the Science Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa - 2024 (STISA-2024, a 10-year strategy which is part of the long-term African Union Agenda 2063). BioFISA is a Finnish-Southern African Partnership Programme to strengthen NEPAD-SANBio. Its second phase, BioFISA II, is a four-year Programme running from 2015 to 2019. The BioFISA II Programme supports NEPAD-SANBio in the impact areas of health and nutrition by creating an effective and dynamic regional research network, including the establishment of sustainable funding structures for collaboration; enhancing human capacity in the region including the development of entrepreneurial skills; and funding the development of innovative products.
The Programme is mainly funded by the Finnish Government and the Department of Science and Technology in South Africa with matching funds from institutions in the 12 SANBio Member States that are implementing the funded projects.
“BioFISA I enabled the creation of one of the main ways of co-operation in biosciences, fostering the SANBio Network with the establishment of bioscience nodes across Southern Africa,” the Ambassador of Finland in South Africa, Mr Petri Salo, remarked.
In his speech, the Ambassador of Finland in South Africa Mr. Petri Salo expressed Finland’s highest respect to the South African Department of Science and Technology, the CSIR, NEPAD and all other parties involved in SANBio and the BioFISA Programme. “BioFISA II marks the beginning of a new phase. With the challenges the region is facing, we are confident that the importance of cooperation in the biosciences sector is adopted and SANBio will have a bright future.” Furthermore, the Ambassador remarked on the importance of investment in research and development as well as in human capital in today’s globalized world faced with global challenges.
Prof Aggrey Ambali, Head of NEPAD Science, Technology and Innovation Hub (NSTIH) also recounted the activities and successes of the first phase of BioFISA in reducing disease burden using indigenous knowledge, poverty alleviation with mushroom technologies and animal health.
At the event, Dr Rachel Chikwamba, CSIR Group Executive for Strategic Alliances and Communication, gave the closing remarks and noted how privileged the CSIR is to be the Hub of the NEPAD-SANBio and to work with its partners on this particular initiative. Dr Chikwamba also thanked Minister Pandor for attending the launch and acknowledged the important role the Ministers from the other SANBio Member States are playing. She also noted that the SANBio model has proved to be something worth replicating in other disciplines in response to the Science Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024).