Africa is the most diverse population of humans in the world in terms of genetics, language and culture. It is no secret that with the advert of modernity and the associated challenges with it, some of the solutions could be hidden deep in the culture of the people. Problems of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), climate change’s effects and the erosion of both the culture and germplasm that sustain these societies is under threat. It is also no secret that the food basket in both the rural and urban African population is getting smaller, resulting in unhealthy eating.
The theme of this year’s Forum was Effective Public-Private Partnerships in Research and Innovation. The purpose of the Global Research Africa and Science Granting Research Initiative Annual Forum was for stakeholders to discuss the cutting-edge issues related to science, technology and innovation within the framework of public-private-partnerships (PPP); and the role the private sector companies in Africa could play in supporting the African agenda on science, technology and innovation for socioeconomic benefit.
In order to develop products from indigenous resources and create new markets for them, it is important to empower women, farmers and relevant students with information which enables them to start thinking innovatively about food and food products. Business skills and scientific awareness as well as connections with food manufacturers can be of great help to these stakeholders.
The NEPAD Science Technology and Innovation Hub (NSTIH), NEPAD SANBio (Southern Africa Network for Biosciences), National Institute for Science, Technology and Innovation (NISTI) in the Republic of Seychelles in collaboration with the other key national stakeholders, African Union Commission, Ministry of Education, National Bureau of Statistics and the University of Seychelles held a training workshop on strategies of creating an enabling environment for a knowledge-based economy led by innovation in Beau Vallon, Seychelles, from 7 to 11 August 2017.
On 31 July – 3 August 2017, NEPAD SANBio (Southern Africa Network for Biosciences), with the support of the BioFISA II Programme (a Finnish-Southern African Partnership Programme to Strengthen NEPAD SANBio), and the Botswana Innovation Hub held the SANBio Winter School on Indigenous Knowledge Systems Commercialisation in Gaborone, Botswana.
The Southern Africa Network for Biosciences, in partnership with the SADC Plant Genetic Resources Centre (SPGRC) and with support from the BioFISA II Programme, is hosting a training course on Plant Genetic Resources Management in Lusaka, Zambia, from 7-12 August 2017.
Nhlanhla is a recent graduate from the University of Swaziland with an MSc in Agricultural Sciences. At the age of 25, she is full of life and has many dreams for herself and her five siblings, many of them either unemployed or underemployed. Nhlanhla dreams of a future where she would be able to not only afford food, water, shelter and energy, but be able to even go on a holiday in Durban.
Policy makers have emphasised that the African continent needs Science, Technology and Innovation to contribute towards the transformation of its food, nutrition and health statuses and fats-track the continent's socio-economic development.
Ms Ntombenhle Hlengiwe Gama, a PhD student at the University of Pretoria, was recently awarded the Women in Science Award (WISA) Doctoral Scholarship by the Department of Science and Technology in South Africa.