The National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST) and the African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) has agreed to facilitate the networking and experience sharing with other African countries in the area of biotechnology and biosafety.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on Monday by NCRST acting CEO Enid Karamen and ABNE director, Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo.
“Biotechnology is the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make useful products, or any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use,” explained Karamen during the signing ceremony that was held in Windhoek.
She said the development of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has become the contention and most discussed aspect of biotechnology.
Indeed, advancement in modern science and technology offers tremendous opportunities for improving the well-being of people and the environment, however it also embodies risks, she said. Therefore, there is a need to ensure that adequate care is taken consciously to inform the populace of the benefits and processes related to these innovations, she added.
She said this will only be achieved by a skilled and well-informed society that will lead to effective participation in decision-making.
On his part, Ouedraogo reiterated New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) agency ABNE’s commitment to continue supporting Namibia to build a functional biosafety regulatory system.
He said signing of the MoU aligns with ABNE’s mandate and is meant to forge a strategic partnership to enable capacity strengthening of Namibian regulators and other relevant stakeholders.
“ABNE is then a tool in your hands,” he said.
For instance, he said, in countries of intervention, ABNE POs are allowed to sit in the NBA’s sessions to review applications or regulatory matters as observers providing advices but not in the decision process.
He said today on the continent, the regulatory landscape in many countries looks much different than it was about five years ago as many countries are beginning to tear down the “iron curtain” put in place by regulation.
“This is a new era where many countries are beginning to either review or enact legislation to create an enabling environment for harnessing the tools of modern biotechnology and other biosciences safely,” he said.
ANBE is a NEPAD agency which is a biosafety resources network for African regulators and policy makers.