“The time has come for African countries to establish effective regulatory frameworks, develop national valorisation strategies and fairly negotiate Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) agreements with the users of genetic resources.”
This is according to NEPAD Southern Africa Network for Biosciences Programme Manager, Dr Sechaba Bareetseng speaking on the network’s upcoming pre-convention workshop on the Nagoya Protocol on ABS and its impact on the bio-economy on Africa to be hosted in collaboration with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, South Africa and Africa Bio on August 25th at this year’s Bio Africa Convention.
The Nagoya Protocol on ABS promotes the legal access to access genetic resource and traditional knowledge and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilisation, through research and commercial activities.
According to Dr Bareetseng, the workshop aims to raise awareness about the Nagoya Protocol on ABS, and its implications on the development of the biotechnology industry with particular focus on basic research, technology and innovation commercialisation, local trade and export of products derived from genetic resources and traditional knowledge.
“With the growing scientific and technological capacity, Africa is beginning to turn its biodiversity and traditional knowledge into novel biotechnology and biotrade products which are creating a whole new and diversified income opportunities for local and indigenous communities in the process.”
“Majority of research institutions and the private sector, especially SMMEs, on the African continent have limited knowledge on how to operationalise the Nagoya Protocol on ABS in line with the implementation of their research and development strategies and business models respectively. This is mainly due to lack of national ABS laws and associated regulations in their countries, which have permitted almost unconstrained access to genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. The consequence has been that the Continent as a whole, including local and indigenous communities have not benefited equitably from the commercial and other gains derived from local genetic resources commercialisation. In addition, there is general lack of institutional systems and policies that guide the protection and management of IP derived from R&D on genetic resources. Together with the lack of ABS guidelines on benefit sharing negotiations and arrangements, these have negated researchers’ ability to comply with the Nagoya Protocol,” Dr Bareetseng.
The workshop will amongst others include ABS case studies by SMEs from Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia which will highlight the successes and challenges on implementing the Nagoya Protocol on ABS.
For interested parties who wish to attend the workshop, please RSVP by 20 August 2019 at Ksedieane@csir.co.za for registration. The workshop will be held at the CSIR Durban offices.